Saturday, July 30, 2005

Where is my blog?

This blogspot hosting and shell of my former blog is a temporary arrangement. Just as I was getting into writing on a regular basis, my host has seemingly disappeared - free hosting without banner adverts all over it was apparantly too good to be true. Will move all my files elsewhere sometime soon, once I find somewhere cheap to host the small amount of memory I wish to take up.

Let this be a warning to anyone who puts files online without backing them up.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

How to avoid a terrorist attack

Ever since posting about teleports and bomb proof pods, I've been toying with a few more ideas. The best in my view is that we all have a robot version of ourself, fitted with a video camera and operated via a virtual reality suit (from the safety of our own home.) So, we leave our house and walk to the tube station, go to work, and generally go about our lives as normal - all without literally leaving the house. With the right technology, there is NO REASON to ever leave the house again, human interaction may become a thing of the past.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I'll be thinner if you don't

£42,500 bottle of water snatched from a literary festival in Devon. Devonshire folk are the best and I wouldn't put it past someone to realise that 2 litre plastic bottle of water was actually 'Art.' Water is for drinking.

I work with an obese woman (okay, fire me now for my website). She is one of those obese people who puts it down to an under active thyroid, and then has a drawer full of Jammy Dodgers and Mars Bars. THIS is the reason you are fat, fatty. Anyway, today she wore a t shirt emblazoned with the writing "I'll be nicer if you give me chocolate." Stating the obvious, much?

How good it feels...

... To know that I have done something about my hatred of working for Friends Provident (oh, Dooce me, at this point in time it would be a blessing I tell you!) To know that maybe I'll get the hell out of there on Friday, having spent my last afternoon staring into mousemats that say "Life's better with friends." That's a pretty bloody horrible existence for someone who happens to work there and doesn't have any friends = hey you! you have no friends! But rest assured life is better for people who are more likeable than you and DO have friends! Fuck you! (Go and do some filing!)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Letter from the Editor

I returned from work today to two emails in my university account. The first was a copy of the reference that my department administrator sent to my letting agent and the second was a letter from the (incompetent) editor of the university newspaper. I am not calling him incompetent because I am bitter towards him, but I am simply astonished at how slow his email turnaround is: there was a meeting on the 14th June that I was unable to attend, re. writing for the newspaper in September, and I requested the week before that the information from the meeting be emailed to me.

Weeks passed, other people I knew who'd requested more information, received said information. I emailed asking where mine was? And today, I have finally heard from the editor - not sending me the information I requested, but telling me that he would be getting around to it soon. Thanks a lot for that, why couldn't you just send it to me then and there? I hate people who can't cope with just organising themselves, particularly when they get to flounce around with the title of Editor and put that on their CV.

So, this is reason number one I am irritated. Reason number two is perhaps a little more biased: I submitted three sample columns (six weeks ago) for the post of columnist for the paper. I heard nothing back for weeks and weeks, despite asking for information about when the decision would be made when I submitted my columns. The decision rests with the features editor, and hasn't even been made yet - but just to assert himself, Mr. Editor has told me that in his personal opinion the columns are too anecdotal. I can only assume that what he was looking for was more genuine columns relating to making your penis appear bigger (true -appeared in the most recent edition of the newspaper) rather than anything anecdotal. Plus, I swear they were interesting anecdotes! People who don't know me have talked about me for the getting locked in my room by French people last year!

Anyway, I am perhaps a little bitter because of 'his personal opinion' even though I know I shouldn't be. There's nothing wrong with being an anecdotal writer, it's nothing bad about me or my style, it's just that I don't write columns according to the standard for columns. Although, if my column was called 'Tales from University' (though it wouldn't be, because that is a Stupid Name), it would totally be a good column and people would expect anecdotes...

So I'm only half joking, when I say that I'm setting up my own paper!! I will actually organise things and people and provide lots of information for everyone who emails me. I will write an anecdotal column! And everyone will want to come and write for me instead of Roar because it will be different and original, and for COOL PEOPLE, and it shall be called Miaow. Kappow.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A little amusement

The business card of my letting agent has the words 'Home Boy' where one would usually find 'Managing Director' or some such title.

And also - Why oh why does attempting to flee the world of filing have to involve filling out more application forms?!

Defying the lazy stereotypes

I feel myself longing for a few days completely away from news coverage - it seems that since July 7th the news has all been bad. I'm so grateful that I live in a relatively peaceful country, I can switch off for a few days if I need to, drive away to a small coastal town with my boyfriend and a tent and have some quiet. I hope Bill makes it to see me soon so we can do something like that. Just that potential is a comforting thought though.

My married friends have found a flat in Battersea. So my knowledge of the South will hopefully be soon a little more extensive! Both Charlie and I are longing for some essays to do and to get back into university life in general. I never thought I would say it but I am getting sick of the holidays now. A 20 week academic year is just a little ridiculous if you ask me. I would much rather have full time education actually mean full time education, and finish my degree in two years rather than three. I seriously think that would be a very economical option for students to take in the future, especially with the impending introduction of ridiculous top up fees. Intensive degree courses should be introduced ASAP, and when they are they should be attributed to my good self.

Am currently watching the film version of The House of Mirth. Always nice to see just how much film adaptations sometimes stray from the novel. It's not so bad, but on the other hand - an entire character seems to have vanished from the film. Where is Selden's cousin? Selden's cousin who seems to be the vehicle for all of Wharton's lesbian tendencies? The same cousin who seems to love both her own cousin, and Lily. And, how disconcerting is it to watch a film with Scully, but no Mulder?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Quadroblogohedron

/1/ The man shot dead on the tube yesterday, was not connected to the bombs on Thursday. At first, I thought, well he ran from the police onto the tube and jumped over the ticket barrier in the tube station - what else could they have done? But the police were undercover and carrying guns. If undercover policemen were running after me with guns, I too would jump a ticket barrier and try to get the hell out of the situation. I hope it's not that straightforward though.

/2/ I am working on designs for either travelling to university in a bomb proof pod, or teleporting myself there. I will let you know how this pans out as I look further into the logistics of these creations. The other possibility was that everyone wears skin tight leotards and carries clear PVC luggage. Anyone agree to this? (What? It would be like Utopia or something. And would be far more effective than identity cards.)

/3/ I have made an acquaintance at work who is an example of innocent Devonshire folk at their finest. She lives on a farm with her parents who met at 18 and married soon after, and aspires to be a local primary school teacher after going to university (in Devon.) Like her forefathers, her boyfriend is a farmer, and no doubt her children will too be farmers for as long as there is farming to be done (possibly not long then.) Like her parents, she met her boyfriend at Young Farmers. She is blissfully unaware of some of the horrors that go on in the world: the Beslan seige was news to her apparantly, when I discussed it at work the other day (mistaking it for the comparatively tame Dunblaine massacre.) She also describes her fondness for reading as being down to the way in which, when she is reading, she likes to imagine that she is the main person in the book and pretend that the things in the story are happening to her. She is possibly what people from up-London imaging all country-folk are like, and for meeting the stereotype at all I would usually feel a little bit angry towards her, but she is at the same time rather sweet.

Unfortunately (for her, and the whole cake loving world), she refused to bring in cake on her birthday, giving the fact that she is only working at the Establishment until September. Everyone now despises her for denying them that opportunity for cake (particularly My Big Fat Lazy Boss) and so it's generally been a bad move not to stick to the company birthday cake policy. My liasons with said-girl have now become frowned upon, and we will have to resort to secret liasons amongst the files in The Hut of Eternal Files. Although my days of discussing how great it was that we learnt the alphabet in primary school may be numbered anyway, what with me fast approaching The End of My Tether and constantly battling urges to set fire to the whole filing system. Starting with the JONES'S section.

/4/ Here is a photoset of the few photos I took before my battery ran out whilst celebrating Emily's 21st birthday. My battery has an amazing life, but this means I overlook charging it for months - so when it does eventually run out I am shocked and caught unawares, EVERY time. More new photographs elsewhere on Flickr.

The Twist & Stab

Having seen the images of one of the rucksacks involved in Thursday's incidents, I resolved to keep an eye on the Fitness First website, just to see if they would bring it up. (I don't know what is standard procedure when a bag emblazoned with your logo is used in attempted bombings - should you make a point to condemn the actions or..?) I didn't see any press releases related to the bombs yesterday, but, I did come across the Light Saber Workout, which was much better than seeing what they had to say for themselves re. allowing terrorists to join their gym. The LS Workout sounds just like my cup of tea, for the sheer novelty of it, despite not having seen any of the Star Wars films.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Terror Twilight

One set of bombs was a reminder that we are vulnerable to terrorists - two asserts this vulnerability, making it perfectly clear that we cannot prevent terrorist attacks. I want to stand up and say I will not be made to feel fearful, but in all honesty I am feeling very wary about my return to London: people are willing to kill me for their cause. I know that it is not me-specific of course, but it is me-as one of the many people who live in the city. I would like to cycle to university, I've been planning to for a long time. But even so, it is an inescapable fact of life that I will have to use public transport when I go back. I just wish I lived in a London where you could do that without there being any fear.

There are cycling courses, and according to the TFL website the average journey time from Belsize Park to the Strand is 22 minutes. That is quicker than tubing at the best of times, let alone amongst all these bomb scares and so on. I remember when I was working in Leicester Square - there was a bomb scare and the tube just went straight to Charing Cross. With all the evacuations at the moment it seems that my journey is going to be a lot more disrupted than it was last year by terror alerts. Especially seeing as it involves daily passing through Russell Square, which for god knows what reason (they want to bomb the big Paperchase? UCL?) seems to be a popular option.

Anyway. So. I cannot wait to go and see Willy Wonka, but I am waiting to share the experience with Bill. If anyone can do it in a way that would have made Roald Dahl proud, it would be Tim Burton. I'd like to see him take on The Witches next, although that may be speaking too soon. Roald Dahl is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the best writers in the history of all time. Perhaps it is entirely sentimental though: my dad used to work for the World Service in Reading & I was in Exeter - in lieu of bedtime stories, he would record himself reading The Witches and post it to us each week.

Carter left ER and can now be seen on Little Angels with an alias of Stephen Briers. Don't think I don't know what you are up to!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bath, book, bed

I think that my boyfriend-amputation is starting to show - in my fantasy relationship with Every Musician I listen to, as well as the cumulative male staff of londonist.com (hot!) I've been alone for an entire month now, oh my! We used to live this far away from each other for the most part of the year - so it is weird to see how quickly one takes close proximity for granted.

& I especially miss him because I have such a lot to thank him for right now. He has scored infinite points and a permanent place in my heart, by finding us a nice flat in Belsize Park within our price range. So, as of September we will officially be co-tenants, which will be an interesting experiment! I am rather shy with people I don't know very well: so living in my current flat has been hard work because I spend a lot of my time with Bill or busy with university, and we were all up and down between our family homes and London anyway - so, all in all we didn't get to know each other very well. The times we were in the flat together were a little awkward, with my flatmates being lifelong best friends and me feeling a bit of an outsider. I do hope to keep in touch when I'm back in London though, they are definitely lovely people and we have a lot in common - it just didn't work out living together (although it didn't NOT work out either).

All the more reason to be looking forward to sharing a space with someone I feel so close to. I am not afraid to speak my mind or do whatever the hell it is I feel like, whether it be going to bed at 7pm or singing along loudly with my ipod on: can't wait. I'm just so happy really, and! we are sticking to what we know in Belsize Park - much nicer alternative to having to familiarise myself with Tufnell Park. And just down the road from the tube AND a bus that goes all the way to university on the Strand. ( = longer time spent in bed.)

I've been working full time this week, which is certainly a big shock compared to the 3 days I did last week and my 8 hour week whilst at university. It is nice to have a change to learning though, because I am able to put away my last file at the end of the day and just leave it. I don't come home and have more work to do - which is quite a difficult thing about university sometimes. Anyway, in the past week I've learnt that I definitely need to choose my career carefully: I want to make sure I do something that matters to people, that utilises my strengths, and that stimulates me. It's such a large portion of life to waste filing insurance claims for example - and even if I was to be a senior insurance claim type person, I think that it's generally not particularly fulfilling or something you could really enjoy.

I felt awful when I checked my email account a week after Vixgirl emailed me. (Hi!) I really appreciated the email, so sorry for not responding sooner!

Big Brother has got boring, so I am switching off and getting ready for bed. Early nights are great, especially when fresh out of the bath and accompanied by cosy pyjamas and a good book: small pleasures have become infinitely amplified by the horror of filing during the day, coupled with entertaining miniature family members.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Muggles and mudbloods

I copied the other 2 million people who went out on Saturday and bought Harry Potter! I had debated with myself for days leading up to the release of the book - I am twenty now, I am studying literature, do I need to buy this book? But in the end my sentimental side got the better of me and I just had to buy it just to see what happened next. So, I read it on Sunday, because I went out to celebrate a 21st birthday on Saturday (and spent a good part of the day on a handmade present), and oh my! I love the narrative, it's all so quaint and very English sounding, and I really enjoy the familiarity that the narrative revolving around the school year enables, but JK Rowling doesn't half beat about the bush when getting her point across.

What is so important about making the book so so long? Whatever happened to quality, not quantity? To me, it seems that as JK has become more and more famous, the editors have been more and more reluctant to restrain her to a short book. The first three books are a reasonable length - the fourth is pushing that a bit - but the fifth and sixth are unnecessarily long!! & daunting, actually, for a lot of children under a certain age. In fact, daunting for me even, and I love to read! If I was really (really) super bored, I would go through the entire book and cut 100 pages at least. I did, despite this qualm about the length, become enthralled after about the first 250 pages. And, was devastated by the ending.

Bill went to look at a Tufnell Park flat today. We have decided against it though, because £220 is just pushing the boundary a little. If it was a spectacular flat, we would have been willing to go for it. But it wasn't, it was simply 'nice' - although it would have been lovely to have had it sorted out already! Tomorrow is another day, involving a room of files for me and a Belsize Park one bed flat for him, which is also a little out of our budget. But hopefully there are some in the Chalk Farm area in the process of being lined up that we will actually be able to afford!

Since when did Sainsburys start advertising Nesquik milkshake mix on their milk bottles? I know that this is obviously a carefully considered choice (milkshake!! advertised on a milk bottle!!) but still, I think this was a cheap shot from Sainsburys. Why don't they advertise their own brand milkshake mix on their bottle anyway? Hmm? It's all a little suspicious if you ask me.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

NWP-roperty

When Bill and I first decided to move in together, just after we encountered ye age old debate of whether 20 and 23 is too young to be in that kind of relationship, we encountered ye age old debate of, North or South of the river? Way back when Shakespeare was hanging out in London, South of the river used to be very dubious indeed. Where all those suspicious theatre goers and prostitutes lived. You wouldn't have caught my 16th Century self hanging around in those parts, oh no. Anyway, South London today has some very nice areas I am sure, but I lived for one horrible month in Waterloo and that put me off the whole of SE1 - and everywhere else in South London is completely alien to me. I see the South from my university on the Strand and occasionally might go to a theatre or a gallery on the South Bank, or this one nice fish and chip shop on Waterloo Road, but that is it. I have also settled nicely into my NW3 lifestyle, and want to continue to live somewhere semi-close to Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill because I do love those places - even if they are saturated with people who have 1) far too much money for their own good and 2) an insatiable desire to show off.

So, because I am like an old woman of the Moseley family, and very stuck in my ways, it seemed an obvious choice to keep an eye out for an NW3 bargain, though we don't hold much hope out for that. We also decided it would be wise to venture into the Wider World of Tufnell Park and Archway (Parliament Hill could perhaps suffice). Unfortunately for us, after looking around to see what the market is like, everything is too expensive or too small or too much located on the 39th floor of a tower block, regardless of whether it was in N19 or NW3. So we had to consider accepting his sister's request to move in with us - or I had to force Bill to consider that, because they don't exactly get on too well in their current flat but I gave the case for more space = less tension and arguments. Consider it he did, to the point that we looked at a very nice 2 bedroomed flat on Parkhill Road, which is a VERY NICE road in between both of our flats now. He considered it to the point that it would be OK to move in with his sister and compromise our loved-up desires for a nicer place. So it's something that we must give continued thought to, but at the same time I just want to do this living together thing, regardless of whether we have to eat our food sitting on the toilet because there is nowhere else to sit. (And it's not even THAT dire, I should count my blessings.) The reason we are having trouble is because the money he gets from his parents to help pay the rent stops here - combined with the fact that I have been living in a flat with a livingroom/bedroom, that is very cheap in the first place because my friend's aunty is also our landlady.

The more details I look at, the more I want to have sorted this all out months ago and the more I rue the day they decided that giving just 1 month notice on ending a tenancy was a good idea. It was all good and fun when we used to browse the Evening Standard and other rental websites, whilst daydreaming about sneaking a pet cat/dog/small horse into the flat, but since it became something we actually had to sort out, particularly with 300 miles between myself and my boyfriend and any potential new flats, it became so much less fun. Why we can't just live somewhere with piped music and a sauna is beyond me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Spirituality shopping (London bombs)

So the bombers were British. Which doesn't entirely surprise me, but it's strange to think that people who have been through the same education system as me and live in my culture, have so much hatred inside them. I 'justified' terrorists actions as much as you can by telling myself that they were from far away and they had witnessed atrocities in their own country and that is why they were able to so gratuitously take away life. Are those who are actually affected by our government's foreign policies feeling this hatred towards us too? How many more people want to cause more tragedy? The hatred towards Muslims in this country has to stop or we will further alienate people who could do this in the future. We can blame Blair and Bush and all those others who decided that war would be the answer, but if terrorists are coming from within our country, ordinary citizens are not beyond making a difference by not further perpatuating divisions in our own society.

I remember my childhood street so vividly. We lived two doors down from a large family of Bangladeshis, who owned an Indian restaurant. They were amongst the most giving and friendly family I have ever met, and I remember how during Ramadan, my dad would observe it too, they would bring my dad HUGE plates full of every type of Indian food imaginable every evening. I haven't ever thought about the way my dad observed their religious festival, but I suppose it makes sense: he is not a Muslim, but he is equally not a Christian. We have a Christmas tree and share in those festivities with our friends, so he shared with our Muslim friends in the observance of Ramadan. It was a symbol of acceptance, and we all learnt to be accepting of this other religion that we hadn't known much about.

I'm not saying that we should all go out and not eat during the hours of sunlight, but, from Wikipedia:

During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to refrain from indulging in violence, anger, envy, greed, lust and backbiting, and are meant to get along with each other better than normal.

To me, this makes sense for everybody, all year around. Particularly now, particularly when we risk further alienating a large group of people. I know that what happened last Thursday was NOT the action of good Muslims, but I also know that for people to have been vulnerable to the message of terrorists, they MUST have been segregated, alienated, from our society in the first place.

& to draw a little from Christianity (another religion I am in no way affiliated with), the Dean of my university emailed everybody this prayer:

Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, vision.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Admin continues to SUCK

Somewhere in my mind there is a connection between going off in a bus to work in the outskirts of the city, with something to do with C20th American history. Did they sometime send people off to the suburbs in a bus to work? I don't know (but I must find out before I try and study the literature next semester.) Either way, I was awake at 7.10 this morning to go and do just that.

My day can be categorised into four parts:
1. Putting files away in a hot little hut, X Central
2. Getting requested files out
3. Putting pieces of paper (records of telephone calls, etc) into files
4. Changing the ownership of files on a database according to where I've just put it

That is it. £5.96 per hour is mine for carrying out those 4 things. But it still sucks, because those 4 things don't require any concentration whatsoever. I know the alphabet, and I know where the numbers are on a keyboard. I don't have to think at all, all day, and it's so boring. Luckily for me, I'm a part timer this week and don't have to go in again until Friday. Next week is a different story: I am going to be full time, which is a horrid thought. I am resolved to stick it out until at least the end of next week though. Then I am allowing myself to quit if need be. We shall see - my one day of training at WHSmiths, my one week at private school, and my complete abandonment of A level studies for a year, don't exactly bode well for my staying power.

The Flat Hunt is now officially on, because findaproperty.com actually lists a few that are available starting September and also because I am Highly Organised. This time next month I can guarantee that I will have a comprehensive knowledge of all one & two bedroom flats near Belsize Park, Chalk Farm, Tufnell Park, Archway, and Highgate, that fall in the £165-220 a week price range. I will probably have sent my poor boyfriend to go and visit 90% of them as well. Still, despite my organisation, I don't really have much of a clue what to look for or what to avoid. I know that I love Hampstead and the Heath, and that my current flat in Chalk Farm would be wonderfully perfect if it didn't involve living with people I don't feel comfortable with - but I also know that I am used to an expensive area at a reduced price. I am prepared to go in the other direction (Archway etc.) but I don't think I'm willing to compromise my love of all things North London. I am a sucker for Victorian terraces because I grew up in one, and I love fireplaces and high ceilings. But I am also a lowly student and have tastes that far exceed my budget - a point absolutely clarified by my NEED for an Orla Kiely bag like this!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Admin SUCKS

I started my new job today. I am so glad that I really enjoy my degree and didn't feel driven to leave school at 18, now that I have seen what it's really like doing lowly administrative tasks. Give me a huge reading list and a thesis to write any day - I mean it. And, when I worked (for free!) in Orion publishers, at least the environment was right even if the jobs I was getting assigned were tedious - I saw people there doing the kind of thing I would like to do & there were Macs in sight! I spent the whole of today surrounded by insurance claims in the mortgages & endowments department = NO FUN. And rubbishy PCs crashed on me when all I wanted to do was find out which file claims were meant to go in. I will have nightmares about the pile that mounted on my desk today.

I guess I just like my university environment, and I think I'll stick with that for the next few years at least. Hopefully I'll keep enjoying it until I get my PhD, I'll do some writing, and then I will be able to send Bill out to bring home le bacon whilst I stay home and raise baby Barry.

London feels so far away. I keep seeing it on television and wishing I was there to stand up and say I refuse to be terrorised! But here I am in Devon, and I can say most definitely that 'the West' is not scared at all. I'm thoroughly fed up of being Bill-less, I want him! Now! In every dirty and innuendo-filled use of the word. Three weeks is a long time, and the fact that there is no definite point at which we'll see each other again is just agonising!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Eugene to win!

Let it be registered here that I intensely dislike Craig from Big Brother this year. Some people are horrid and he represents them all! How absolutely pathetic it is that we live in a society where this is entertaining - but here I am being entertained by gross caricatures of people. Apart from, they are supposedly Real People. How did I get here?

If I had to choose though, I would much rather see Sir Alan on The Apprentice than aspiring celebrities on Big Brother (ah, famous for being famous, my favourite type of celebrity!) There are so many reasons that TA is better than BB in Superfi’s Rank of Reality Television. Most importantly is the fact that it is on just once a week, and that is a lot easier to cope with than the blanket of BB that I find myself smothered with about this time every year.

I <3 homewares

[On Friday] I am pleased to see just how many Londoners are picking themselves up today and carrying on with life. There was an especially touching piece on the news with a victim (I'm sorry I can't be more specific) who had cuts on his face and a bandaged eye, who was back at work today. In a way, I can see that there is no choice but to carry on, but it still shows an astounding amount of courage to me. I hope that when the time is right we will celebrate the Olympic bid, because that is an amazing achievement for the city and it shouldn't be sidelined - moreso, we should stand up and be proud of our success.

[On Sunday] I have spent quite some time this weekend with my seven year old nephew, which opens up a whole other aspect to the effects of the London bombs. Children who now know what a suicide bomber is, who have to face the fact that people have died - in this country, and not in some far off land that they can't identify with. The brother of a girl at his school was killed on Thursday, which is just terrible. I wish there was some way I could shelter him from all this news, but at seven years old it's impossible - he uses the internet and watches television.

I watched Adaptation, I liked it mostly, nice postmodernesque foregrounding of the construction there - but I'm not sure how necessary the dramatic climax was (ah but was that perhaps the entire point?)

I must have Le Beanock in my house one day. And I have been spending some time adding things that I want to this list today, because, well, it can't hurt to dream about having spare money. I am going to be working tomorrow, tuesday, friday, and then for the following fortnight full time - so hopefully I will have a little left over after paying off my overdraft for indulgences (please let it be enough for a KitchenAid blender.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Easy Money

I received the following in an email today. I could definitely use £90-£100 a day, and why not spend a few days in Manchester - but shoot, I just miss the criteria. It would appear that I have an unprofitable ethnicity, gender, and size, being as it is, completely average:

We are looking for a large oriental man for a production in Manchester the days of filming are 21st and 22nd of July. Payment for each day is around £90-£100 a day. No experience of sumo wrestling is needed.

If you know of anyone who would be great for this part please let us know or get them to apply over the message board.

Kind Regards
Uni-versalExtras Ltd

Thursday, July 07, 2005

7th July 2005



This is one of my favourite photographs of London, and I think it underlines the strength of city.

I love my life in London, and even though I'm not there right now I am still heartbroken about what has happened today. I felt so touched today, receiving texts and calls checking to see that both myself and my boyfriend are okay, and I feel terrible for those people who didn't get good news when they made their calls. Gratuitous loss of life is unacceptable, whether it is in London, Africa, or Iraq. I can see the context into which today falls, but to me it is something of a personal tragedy, being as it is in a place that I really hold close to my heart.

I know the future looks dark
But it's there that the kids of today must carry the light

We can be stronger than bombs
If you're singing along and you know that you really believe

We can speak louder than ignorance
Cause we speak in silence every time our eyes meet.

London Explosions

As I write, this story in London is unfolding in front of my eyes. Since 10AM I have been stuck to the television, Londonist, the Guardian, BBC online – every reliable source I can – watching the story change from ‘power surges’ to the discovery of a device, to a description of events that ‘bear all the hallmarks’ of a terrorist attack (specifically Islamic terrorist groups, according to the current news report.)

New York, Madrid, and Bali – all places I have never been to and cannot identify with, but of course all places that I felt for when they experienced devastating terrorist attacks. London, on the other hand, is a place that I live in for a large part of the year. The shots on the news are of places that I go to every day, that I pass on my commute to university, and the eyewitness accounts from the tubes are accounts of my nightmares. This time it’s me who is worried about people I know, hoping that my boyfriend will stay inside and stay safe.

It’s just so very sad, a horrific juxtaposition with the celebrations yesterday when London won the Olympic bid. There isn’t a lot more I can say, aside from collect the news that I have heard. This has been terrible news not just for London but also for the whole of the UK: we are vulnerable too.

11:32 (From Londonist) Arab sources have told the BBC that Al Qaeda are 'almost certainly' responsible. Two fatalities at Aldgate East.

11:40 (From Londonist) Traces of explosives found at at least one of the scenes.

12.08 Tony Blair speaks: It is his intention to leave the G8 at go down to London in the next couple of hours and to return later this evening. All the leaders at the G8 want the meeting to continue in Blair’s absence. Each of the leaders of the countries round the table has some experience of this situation and shares our resolution to defeat this terrorism. It is particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try and help the problems in Africa as well as with the environment.

It is reasonably clear that this is a series of terrorist attacks and that they have been designed to correspond with the opening of G8.

It is important that those who are engaged in terrorism that our determination is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people. Whatever they do it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilisations around the world.

12.11 London Ambulance Service - cannot confirm the number of casualties and fatalities, but it is expected to be high. Please do not use LAS unless it is absolutely necessary. There is currently a rescue operation ongoing at King's Cross Station, where a tube train is still stuck in the tunnels with fatalities expected. The LAS were also called to Leicester Square, although no explosion has been confirmed there yet.

12.13 Scotland Yard confirm that there have been explosions in London this morning at: Edgware Road, King's Cross, Tavistock Square, Russell Square, Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Aldgate East. The bus that was exploded was a Route 30 bus at Tavistock Place.

12.37 Londonist reports that LAS have confirmed a further bus explosion at Leicester Square (I've not seen any information regarding this, apart from the LAS interview earlier.) -- This was later confirmed by a Guardian Blog reader to be untrue, there have been no explosions in Leicester Square.

12.54 Charles Clarke - expresses sympathy for those involved. Not in a position to give precise details but 4 have been confirmed.

13.14 Images of those trapped underground appear on Wikinews.

13.15 Tony Blair speaks again, terrorists will not succeed.

13.31 Ken Livingstone on BBC News, describes the events as an 'indiscriminate attempt to slaughter.'

This has been my live update, although I'm sure nobody else has read, it has been useful for me to make sense of conflicting and confusing news stories and has given me something to do whilst I sit here in shock. My heart goes out to everybody in London. Londonist, Wikinews, and The Guardian Newsblog continue to update regularly. BBC is, as ever, reliable and constantly updated. I have no choice but to go out, but I will no doubt be constantly listening to the radio for more and will be rushing home afterwards to update further.

I hope that the leaders at G8 are still able to have a successful summit, and still deal with the same issues that absolutely must be dealt with this week no matter what terrorists do to try and f**k it up.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Fury of The Sound and the Fury

Never have I ever… had to read a book that required such intense concentration. The Sound & The Fury has reminded me how quickly I read usually, because it is making me be so slow, even when I know I will have to read it at least twice to make solid sense of it in my mind. I am ever so slowly ploughing through it though. I had my courses for next semester confirmed the other day, so at least I know now that I am definitely taking the American Fiction module and am not just wasting my time on the reading.

So, the book: it is dominated by the theme of time. In the first section of the book, what makes it so frustrating to read is the fact that it is written from the point of view of a retarded man, who has no concept of time whatsoever. So there are these constant leaps from the present day, to any number of days in history. And the leaps aren’t easily distinguishable, like in a lot of more contemporary books that attempt to tell a story across generations for example – the leaps just happen, like this, in the middle of a sentence. To top it all off, the retarded-factor also plays a big role in making it difficult to read. The second section of the book is where I am up to now, and the sense of time is distorted here because of the (different) narrator’s obsession with his sister. What interests me a lot is the changing shape of the narrator – I’ve looked a little at unreliable narrators before but not at ones that completely change to a different person. But I suppose this is the point of an English degree, to start reading things that you wouldn’t otherwise be reading – it’s not supposed to be a course made up of books I would usually read and enjoy… Anyway, I know that the book is a ‘classic’ and I think that it will be a worthwhile read by the time I finish it, but it’s just a bit of a hard slog for the summer holidays!

More about books: It’s so frustrating, and downright wrong as far as I am concerned, but most of my childhood books have gone to charity shops over the years. Although, as I got older, I held onto many of my books myself (that explains the Judy Blume on my bookshelves), there is one book that I absolutely must find before I have my own children. Dick Bruna, The Sailor (ISBN: 0416930204 Published 1966 by Methuen Young Books, or ISBN: 0415301711 Published 1979 by Price Stern Sloan), was The Book; the absolute favourite bedtime read that I used to demand to have read to me, and that my brothers can even now remember a lot of by heart (although they did, as brothers do, alter some of the words a little…)

My hunt for The Sailor has gone on for years, I always check that it’s not in second hand bookshops or on ebay or Amazon, but it’s more of a half hearted search method: for about a day, I am really geared up and full of commitment to the search, but then I check the usual places and can’t find it, and give up again, resolving to eventually find it somewhere. I wonder what it will be like, to finally have it again. Something like when I got the video of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe after all those Sunday afternoons of watching it in the late 80s? That was a shared nostalgia with an entire generation of children, but I think The Sailor is something special that I share with my family. It can’t have been a widely recognised favourite, or it would still be in print – especially seeing as Dick Bruna is a phenomenally successful children’s author. I wonder if it will be a let down or not. And I wonder if it will be an expensive mission, or has somebody else just cast aside this book that I so miss? Maybe it will turn up one day; there is a lot of attic space in my old house that remains to this day full of things to be sorted… And I wonder if I will find it myself or if I will share this piece of information with someone who will one day find it for me, just to make me happy.

So far, I’ve written mostly about books. That wasn’t my plan! The more interesting stuff starts… tomorrow.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Long hot summer of (free) DVD rentals

Another productive morning: spending ages buying second hand from Amazon, which is a big waste of time and only saved me £2.37 once the cost of the books DOUBLED when I took postage into account. Now I am going to be waiting on lots of separate parcels from all over the country, probably unreliable people who lied about the condition of the books, when I could have bought new copies from Amazon for more or less the same price. If you are a student trying for the cheapest way to get hold of your reading list, don’t assume that second hand will mean significantly cheaper. I automatically thought second hand = cheap, and it often does, but not when it comes to postage. Lesson learnt. The thing is, we’re not in London anymore Toto, where they line up rows and rows of second hand books (alphebetised!) on the South Bank:



We’re in Exeter, and second hand book shopping is a whole other ball game here. Perhaps some of my ‘Rise of the Novel’ texts would be easy to find, I’m sure there are at least ten thousand unwanted copies of Moll Flanders in the world. But, for American Literature, there are books that I have never even seen on Ebay despite the fact that I have been keeping an eye on hot auction action for books off my reading list for a few months now. It’s not that I don’t have the time to trawl charity shops in Exeter; it’s just that I don’t have the inclination.

On a slightly different topic: When I am in London, Bill and I share an online DVD rental account. Since coming home for the summer, this hasn’t been the only area of my life has been barren and dry, and the lack of good films to watch has definitely been felt in the rise in level of Channel 5 that I’ve been watching. Last night, I finally accepted that it is my fate to remain here over the holidays, and set up my very own free trial with Sainsburys online DVD rental. I can just tell, I am risking spending my entire holiday indoors watching as many freebie films as I can possibly get through - interspersed with a little light reading in preparation for Operation: BA Honours, year 2. Somebody better phone me with a job, quick sharp.

And finally, because I seem to be all over the place today: I got my first year results. Which were all very firmly in the Upper Second category, apart from one silly module I had to do entitled ‘Turning Points in the History of Christianity in England 1500 to 1900.’ To be honest, I was lucky to make it out of that, the most boring module ever, alive, and only managed to do so by attending the bare minimum of lectures, so I am not taking the one Lower Second too badly. Overall, a 2:1, so that bodes well for the future.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

London, chicken!

I have spent a considerable amount of today working on part of my birthday present for Emily. I’m making a little book full of photographs and captions which is entitled ‘A Day in the Life,’ so contains things like ‘do hair,’ ‘shop,’ next to suitable photographs. It looks good to me and I would definitely appreciate the effort if someone gave it to me, so hopefully she will like it too. Homemade presents are the best, like all the compilations that Bill & I have made for each other. I make a mean birthday chocolate cake, covered in a rainbow pattern of Smarties with white icing writing, that has gone down well with everyone I’ve made it for, but this year the baton of cake has been passed to Emily’s boyfriend Dylan so I am having to be a little more inventive.

I felt rather nostalgic going through all the pictures I’ve taken just since I got my digital camera a couple of years ago. Led me to think about how digital photography has made it so much easier to document events. I take photographs so much more these days – more or less every day. Whilst I have always taken photographs, processing is expensive, so I had to consider what to take pictures of more carefully. Now, I can afford to take pictures of anything and everything, which I certainly wouldn’t have done on a 35mm camera. Plus, I would have significantly less pictures of me, with friends and on my own, that I approve of if it weren’t for the digital revolution. The LCD screen is excellent! I rather take for granted the ability to see if something has come out before I print it, it’s one of those things that I can’t really remember how people managed to meet the kind of needs that I have in photographs before. (By that I mean, when I have my photos printed today they are consistently good quality, and cheap and they are very organised on my iPhoto, which is probably one of the best things about digital – especially considering that my house has always had boxes and boxes of unsorted photos!)

I would LOVE some baby chickens!! Too bad I don’t know where I’ll even be living in September - let alone whether it could also accommodate chickens.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Books etc.

So… I ventured into Waterstones the other day, which can be risky for someone who has such a penchant for books and impulse buying as I do - and should be especially avoided when said person is still painfully unemployed. But, anyway, I wanted (needed!) to buy The Nightingale Papers for university, because David Nokes is my lecturer for at least two of my courses next semester and because lecturers put their own books on the reading list so it looks like they are more popular with the masses than they really are. I know what they are up to!

I averted my eyes from the tables they lay out so gloriously with 3 for 2 books that I could just eat up in one sitting. I may be a Literature student, but I am all for 3 for 2 books in Waterstones and chart topping reads that are probably just (small ‘l’) literature. Who cares, really? I averted my eyes from those tables anyway, and from every other letter apart from N and some Os and Ps because sometimes I get a little confused about my alphabet. There it was, a hardback bloody book that will not be out in paperback for quite some time. Oh well - there are rumours of a £90 book that classics students have to buy and I have been very good with using eBay for all my other books for next year so far.

The point is that, I thought I was safe at that point. I just meandered through the tables a little bit on my way to the till, with The Magic Numbers playing nicely on my crappy iPod, and then I saw it. The cleverest trick that Penguin has had up its sleeve for a while: a stand full of little books to celebrate their 70th birthday. Now, it has been some time since I’ve actually been in a bookshop so they may have been around for a bit - but this was my first time faced with all these lovely mini books. What a selection! From such trendy contemporary authors as Zadie Smith and Nick Hornby to P.G. Wodehouse and Virginia Woolf. The clever thing? Each is only £1.50. Not quite as good as the 70p that the 70th birthday logo first suggests, but still not a large enough amount to make you feel like you are actually spending money (unlike my £10 hardback. I know, not that much…)

I managed to escape relatively unscathed with just Martha & Hanwell by Zadie Smith. Who, to be honest, I find more than a little bit pretentious at times (with all the Kabbalah-style strangeness in The Autograph Man) but who is simultaneously something of a role model (female English graduate turned literary writer, successful at a young age). I picked it up and read a little of the Introduction, in which she speaks about short stories, and took it to the till without reading much else. I knew I would enjoy it, because aside from any pretension, I think she is a Good Writer, and because short stories are usually delicious anyway. Even bad short stories are over pretty quickly. Plus I knew I was entering risky grounds and had to get out quick: there was a Dave Eggers book in the collection that I’d like to get my hands on, not to mention all the lovely others, and unfortunately my bank balance has OVERDRAWN at the end of it.

As for the Zadie Smith, I read it as soon as I got home in about half an hour. I preferred the ‘Martha’ story to ‘Hanwell’ but they were both interesting in their own way. Something that annoys me in short stories is the amount that is often left unsaid. In a Zadie Smith novel for example, everything is tied up and all questions answered – but in the space of a short story she doesn’t accomplish this. I don’t think that is something inherent in the form, because I am sure I have read short stories that don’t leave a lot to the reader to decide, but I think it’s definitely a sign of a novelist having trouble with adapting to a shorter form. A lot of novelists surely start off with short stories, but I think that once you’ve made the step to longer works it’s probably more of a struggle to work within certain length restrictions. Having said that, the Smith stories weren’t too obtuse, and I was almost led to conclusions, so it wasn’t too infuriating for me. I suppose once in a while it is actually quite nice to have a little space to make your own mind up about what occurs in a story, as long as the possibilities aren’t too endless. As for Martha and Hanwell, they gave just a snapshot of characters that were obviously far more developed in the author’s mind, and it would be interesting to see some more about them. Maybe they will be more developed in a novel one day.

I don’t question buying a newspaper for £1.50, so maybe I’ll invest in a few more of these little Penguin books… As long as they don’t start selling them anywhere I go every day or anything, because then I really would spend too much of my non money.

(Unrelated to the above.) I am feeling very Devonshire and countryside-ish right now, even though I’m not, because I’ve been eating broad beans, courgettes and new potatoes all freshly picked today from the garden!

Hyde Park, Live 8

20 years ago, I was 5 months old and living in a tiny village in Cornwall, a million miles away from poverty and Live Aid. Now I am 20 years and 5 months old and watching a very amusing Jonathan Ross present Live 8, whilst drinking Fair Trade tea. And I am so very aware of the situation in Africa but not really aware of a solution – change will eventually have to come from within Africa, like it should have done from within Iraq, and everywhere else we have interfered with. That’s not to say I disagree with people getting involved, I’ve read lots of bad reviews about how Live 8 won’t change a thing, about how the stars’ collective wardrobe must be worth a big chunk of the money that Africa needs, but to be honest I don’t see how it can be a bad thing. People are watching it and showing that they want the G8 leaders to do something – it’s important to let people know clearly what is wanted because you most probably can’t rely on them to work it out for themselves. Plus, finally, this isn’t like Iraq and there is pretty much absolutely unanimous support for making poverty history even if people disagree over the best way to do it. You can’t argue with it really, I think it would be fairly ignorant to dismiss today’s events as insignificant – they are providing a platform for people to make a stand and it just might make a difference. I think, at this point, with the horrific statistics coming out of Africa, there’s not much left to lose.

Anyway, it looks like a good concert! Lots of bands I wouldn’t mind seeing are there, but I didn’t get a reply to my text! And you can’t get fairer than that I suppose - it was a Willy Wonka kind of distribution and presumably some people sent more texts than they should have - but I can’t think of a fairer way to do it without spending a lot more money. Though it is a little irritating the number of celebrities hanging out at Hyde Park today to look cool/take advantage of their 'status' to get a free entry. Paris Hilton, for example.

What you really want, of course, from a day like this, is to see Michael Stipe dancing about the stage in all seriousness with a blue face:

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy July

I don’t know why advertisers think that annoying people is a good idea. They must sit around a big desk, debating the most irritating little jingles and adverts, in the hope of selling more Stuff. It is not going to work on me! I don’t have a Halifax account and I never will now thanks to this:



The man is inescapable, even at cash machines! He’s been around for a while, but I was reminded of him by the latest offender in the annoying advert situation: Sainsburys, with their ‘Little Bill, Little tiny Bill…’ car insurance adverts:



It makes me cringe! Not so much the fact that it’s a receipt, with arms and human features (that is slightly witty, in fact, he is a Little bill, as in receipt, literally, ha ha!), but more annoying the jingle. ‘Now I aint too big and I aint too tall but for car insurance give Sainsburys a call’ and so on and so on for the whole advert. No! Advertising agencies! Stop going out of your way to make me want to rip out my own arm. (Maybe a little over the top, but still...)

Today I had lunch with my friends Emily and Karen, and Karen’s daughter, who is called Emily too. I am constantly shocked by the fact that someone not even one year older than me has a six-month-old baby, particularly someone who is actually a nice girl and not someone from the council estate next to my old high school, just wanting to get a free house and some benefits. Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words so here is Emily big with Emily little:



She’s lovely! Very cheerful and didn’t whine a bit about being passed around, cooed at, bounced on knees, and generally lavished with attention. What with one university friend having a four-year-old son, Karen having her Emily, and Charlie married to Neal, I’m starting to feel like I know a very middle aged group of twenty/twenty-one year olds!

And on a note completely unrelated to either being annoyed by adverts or babies and husbands, I get my first year results on Monday.