Monday, 31 December 2012

Adventures in self knowledge

1) Overhearing someone on the bus expressing my exact views on Edinburgh's Hogmanay and thinking what a miserable bastard they sounded.

2) Discovering that the face I pull when I am lost in a reverie of existential misery and self loathing and also rather cold looks exactly like a cheery grin unless you are really close up and this is why people smile at me in the street while I am thinking about ripping their heads off.

3) Being unable to answer the question 'if you met someone exactly like you, would you like them?' About 80% of people have no difficulty in immediately saying yes.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Also wrong

Seen in my local sweet store - a notice reading, "Sale of vintage items."

Sweetie, if you are selling edible items, they are not vintage, they are out of date, off, stale or even rancid.

HTH.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Unhelpful

Am I the only one to have noticed the sudden slew of articles about how we shouldn't be throwing out leftover food, not for financial reasons but for green reasons? Suddenly we've gone from 'don't throw it out because it isn't biodegradable' to 'don't throw it out because it is biodegradable'. I don't really understand what's wrong with stuff composting in landfill as opposed to sitting there till the next Mayan apocalypse in its nasty plasticy glory.

Anyhow, this reflection is brought to you by the last slice of the utterly WRONG M&S Stollen. How this metric fuck-tonne of wrongness got recommended by Observer Food I don't know*. It was too soft, too wet, too sweet and it shouldn't have been covered in soggy nuts because the sugar crust on Stollen is the best bit. It should have gone in the bin and instead it went into my stomach where it has contributed to me regaining all the weight I lost during nearly a month of miserable dieting in December.

*Or maybe I do. I'm getting to the point where if I read another hagiographic article of a winsome male food celebrity posing with a fish on their head I'm going to commit to a life of never eating anything other than KFC.

Friday, 21 December 2012

I think it's possible the world did end

Because I find myself feeling sorry for Andrew Mitchell and there is something so unutterably wrong and backwards about that, that I can only conclude that we are living in some kind of new reality.

It's a shame the new reality kept the same old weather though.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Meanwhile somewhere on the internets





One of the things I like best about the internet is that however bad you might feel about yourself, it only takes a few clicks to find someone very much less fortunate.

Click to embiggen.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Mail and the truth

This blog post, while several years old, is very pertinent to current post Leveson discussions. While long, it's an easy read and the comments (featuring our own Tim Footman) are also worthwhile. It makes me very glad I've only ever written for trade publications.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Since you asked

Here's the pig's ear. It looks even worse in real life. I'm not good at straight lines.

It cost about £30 in materials and more in tuition fees. Lurking behind it is a much nicer Banana Republic bag I got on ebay for £11. Nuff said.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Making a pig's ear out of a purse

A few weekends ago I attended a 'making a leather bag' workshop and indeed, I made a leather bag. It was actually a remarkably nice bit of leather but we did not get much guidance on design and the result was pretty horrible, especially the handles. So I took it home, bought some equipment on eBay and altered the handles and now it's still pretty horrible but the handles are more functional.

As I've mentioned previously, Dad was a saddler and while on the course I suddenly thought that he would have been proud of me. Of course, I immediately realised my error - he wouldn't have been proud at all and he would have taken much pleasure in pointing out how bad a job I had done. Hopefully I haven't completely inherited the miserable bastard gene, but I am beginning to wonder if I've inherited the pleasure in making stuff for a living rather than doing proper work. Unfortunately I quite clearly haven't inherited any ability.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Swift, silent, without trace

It's not something you'd notice when it was happening. After all it's nothing out of the ordinary, a cat on your lap, rubbing up against you. It's only several hours later that you realise, once again, that part of your clothing is missing, this time the tag on your sweater zip, silently swallowed, gone, if not forever, certainly to all intents and purposes in any usable form.

Little buggers. Just as well I don't tend to wear jewellery.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Well that was a total screw up

Not only did I not pick up any work at the conference I was at last week, I didn't score any free promotional pens either. Truly I am useless.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Return of the wordcount

I've decided to do Nanowrimo this year, which means writing a 50,000 word draft of a novel in November (it's another excuse to put off jobhunting). This will be extra challenging as I'm away for nearly a week early on in the month and won't be taking a laptop. Let's hope I manage it because if I fuck this up it will probably be the final straw.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Why it pays to buy expensive cat food

Disgusting as the ingredients sound (derivatives of this, that and the other), Gourmet Ocean Pearl cat food doesn't actually smell all that bad and at times like these*, that is a major blessing.

*when Mits has just upchucked her lunch into the inside of the radiator.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

I want to punch me in the face

I've spent the past couple of days doing a video production and editing course and as part of this I had the experience of seeing myself talking on video for the first time since the late 80s. Playing back interview transcript audio tapes is bad enough but that's just my voice. This was horrific and I now quite understand why I have very few friends and many people dislike me from the first moment they meet me. I've never really bought the concept of me being posh - I feel no identification whatsoever with people like David Cameron who as far as I am concerned are the sort of people who either cut me dead at university for not being their sort or just laughed at me. However on the evidence of this video (we were all filmed talking about our pet hate - I chose neighbour noise), I think I may stay home with a ball gag and a paper bag over my head for the rest of my life. It's the only considerate thing to do. If only Cameron would do the same.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Now what?

I graduate today. I'm not going to the ceremony because I can't afford the fee and I don't have anyone, such as parents or a partner, to take with me. Plus the promised 'amazing catering' could surely only be a temptation to anyone who has never experienced my university's catering before (amazing =/= edible).

The only real outcome as far as I can see is that I lose my council tax exemption and student discounts on stuff. As far as being more employable goes - well, I've confirmed that I'm good at writing articles essays about stuff I don't understand and can't do myself but I knew that anyway. I really wish I'd either not done this at all or done a degree in something fun rather than thinking about so called employability.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Blogsale

As part of my continued effort to sell everything that isn't nailed down, I have a blogsale running here. It probably won't interest any of my gentlemen readers though.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Return of the monkeys

I'm going to blame the assclown I dated last year for this. The pills I had to start taking to deal with the anxiety and insomnia I developed when his mother developed heart problems (the irony) have a known side effect of causing heart problems. Plus of course he broke my heart in the metaphorical sense. ALL HIS FAULT.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

I want a refund

It looks like my lifetime diet of sugared lard has caught up with me. After a whole 5 months of no health problems other than the normal RSI and depression, I've developed a heart murmur. I guess I can stop fooling myself that buying superskinny jeans from Primark means I'm still young. I now have old person health problems and I am extremely upset about that.

Friday, 12 October 2012

How to bargain

While this article about independence raises a lot of sensible questions, it completely fails to understand the function of the 'devo-max' option, in common with pretty much everything else written on the subject. Basically, Salmond has traded away the 'devo-max' option on the referendum in return for letting 16 and 17 year olds vote. This is called giving up something you never wanted in the first place but pretended that you did to get something you really want. Cameron has fallen for it, hook, line and sinker.

With a third devo-max option available on the referendum in addition to the basic stay or go options, wouldn't a sizeable percentage of the go vote who weren't blinded by emotion vote for devo-max as a way to get the best of both worlds? That option is gone now - chances are most of those votes will go to independence. And now we can add a demographic not known for caution and the ability to consider both sides of the question - 16 year olds. I bet most of those vote for independence.

One thing I don't understand though - why does Westminster have to pay any attention to a vote for independence? The Act of Union was agreed between 2 bodies - the Scottish and the English parliaments. Leaving aside the fact that an English parliament no longer exists, wouldn't both sides have to agree to a parting of the ways?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Noises in my head. And outside my head.

You can be on a bit of a sticky wicket when you are known to be having mental health problems and you start complaining about strange noises.

However.

I'm putting this out here in the hope that someone Edinburgh based knows what the hell it is because it is driving me faintly homicidal and the council* can't do anything unless you know the source of the noise.

You can hear it between 6.30 and 9 ish in the morning and between about 8.30 and 11.30ish but sometimes much later at night. Also Sunday mornings until about 11. It's been going on for about 3-4 months now.

It sounds a little like a muted fog horn or the noise lighthouses make. It's low pitched and as much of a vibration as a sound and it pulses on and off. It cuts right through ear plugs and makes sleep impossible.

Does anyone have any ideas because it is making me very unhappy indeed?


*I think I could derive a lot of satisfaction out of being a noise abatement officer.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

On another planet

Overheard at the bus-stop, one academic to another:

"So I told the bus driver that I was just going to nip off the bus to buy a paper, I'd only be 30 seconds and would he mind waiting and watching my briefcase. And when I got back the bus was gone and I had to wait 40 minutes for another! So I was ever so naughty when I got into work and rang the bus garage to say that my heart pills were in my briefcase and I needed them to get it back to me immediately."

"That was rather naughty."

"But my heart pills were in my briefcase."

Sucker

I've just been commissioned for my first piece of paid work this year. I've decided to leave a final decision about applying for a job and moving till after Christmas. The message of the latest career advice book I've just finished could be summed up as "Suck it and see" so I am sucking freelancerdom again for a bit. I pretty much *know* I can't make enough money to live from it but the fear of applying for jobs remains strong.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Reframing

If posts are rather thin on the ground at the moment it's partly because the Blogger toolbar at the top of the screen has disappeared so signing in and posting is no longer an impulse thing but more of a pain in the arse.

Anyhow, I was at a dinner party last night at which one of the other guests was a monstre sacré of the local art establishment. He brought a camera with him and photographed all aspects of the proceedings for his archive, which  he estimates, is worth in the region of several million pounds. I don't think he was terribly interested in me - depression has dialled my introversion and shyness up to 11 so where before I was mildly boring company, now I am extraordinarily so. Nonetheless I am now part of his archive.

Which got me thinking. I'm extremely bad at getting rid of stuff and putting stuff away. Just from here I can see a heap of years old credit card slips, some very out of date Viking catalogues, compliments slips from many a failed venture and many, many pieces of cabling that might come in useful at some point. Previously I thought this was clutter. Now I'm calling it an archive, which I shall probably leave to the state on my demise.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

What exactly have I been doing for the past 18 months?

I'm not entirely sure why although perhaps because it's a reason to put off job hunting, I've started an online course at Coursera.org on cryptography. We had about 4 lectures on cryptography during the Masters and I enjoyed them so I thought this would be nice revision. I'm not even 2 lectures in with the Coursera material, which is taught by someone from Stanford University and which is supposedly at undergraduate level and it's clear that we barely scratched the surface last year. So what exactly was the Masters for? I'm under no illusions that the university I attended was the equal of Stanford (it was an ex-polytechnic) but postgraduate material should be more advanced than undergraduate shouldn't it?

Anyhow, the Coursera courses are free and on the basis of one week so far (I'm also doing a Gamification course), I'd recommend them.

Friday, 31 August 2012

No more excuses

I passed my viva yesterday and am now on countdown to not being a student anymore. So I need to confront what's in the previous post. I keep telling myself that trying and failing leaves me no worse off than not trying at all so I might as well try but honestly I'm not convinced. While it's difficult to imagine feeling any more worthless than I do at the moment, I suppose it's possible and I don't want to experience it.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Decisions, decisions

Next week is my deadline for starting to try to find work so I have some decisions to make this week. Don't wanna.

Do I look for a job or stay self employed? Or just starve to death given that the effect of the past few years is to leave me feeling too scared, lacking in confidence and useless to either apply for jobs or look for freelance work.

Do I stay here or move back to London? If I do stay freelance, I don't think I can stay here because there just doesn't seem to be any work (available to me at least). And it's not like I've really got any kind of a social life or fit in at all up here. In fact it's got to the point where I feel so excluded I don't want to be here any more. But then with London, there's the whole expense thing, the paying for prescriptions thing, the Tube thing, the too many bloody people thing.

I don't feel excited or optimistic or driven or anything. I just want to go to bed and never get up again.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Got it in one

image from inagist.com

Most Private Eye covers leave me wondering why they are supposed to be funny but occasionally they strike gold. This is one of those times.

Personally, the people I feel sorry for at present are the embassy staff. What appears to be the case about Assange's qualities as a houseguest is that he is utterly inconsiderate, contemptuous of other people's needs and property, apparently not that bothered about hygiene* and quite unsafe around women. It's all right for President Correa - he doesn't have to share a tiny apartment, possibly for many years to come with the creep**.

*If I can find the reference, I'll post it - it comes from quite a long article I read somewhere earlier this year or last year while Assange was still holed up in the country home of one of the saps that are now out the bail surety they put up.

** My personal view on all this? Assange =/= Wikileaks. I'm reservedly in favour of Wikileaks. Frankly if the conspiracy theorists are right and Assange ends up in an orange jumpsuit for the rest of his life, I won't lose a minute's sleep. If you're worried about your personal freedom, don't rape people***. It's not that hard.

*** I've been on the receiving end of the stunt he pulled with the sleeping woman. The three month's wait for the HIV test was not one of the better parts of my life.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Today, in not surprising

EDF was supposed to call me before 2pm to reschedule the visit. They didn't. Of course.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Also

Ewan Morrison wrote this the other day about fanfic (which is what 50 Shades is).

My view on fanfic? Creating a convincing character is one of the hardest parts of writing a novel. You think it's a 'homage' to use someone else's character*? That makes you both lazy and a thief.And I prefer that you keep your masturbatory fantasies to yourself.

*I feel that there are probably exceptions to this where the character is not the main one and it is being used creatively. Jasper fforde for example. Can anyone think of anything else?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A question of modern etiquette

How does one tell friends that one would rather dig one's eyeballs out with a spork than read Fifty Shades of Grey without implying that one thinks (and one does) that their taste in reading is abysmal? I've tried 'I think it might upset me as I don't have a boyfriend' and have had that excuse tossed back in my face.

Also, it's prominently displayed at the Book Festival bookshop. This is wrong. WRONG. The Book Festival Bookshop is a place for the entire oeuvre of Canongate, for small hardcore Scottish publishers who wouldn't deign to sell in England, for children's books, for poetry and for small run hard to find non-fiction about history, philosophy and the like, not for softbound signs of the apocalypse and insults to proper authors.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

What the hell kind of a way is this to run a customer service operation?

Here's how EDF runs its appointments system. Like airlines, they book in more customer visits than there are actual time slots available. They send out a confirmation letter in which they tell you that if you miss the appointment, they will fine you. Then a week or so beforehand they bump some of those appointments. However unlike airlines, they don't bother telling you they are bumping you.

When you ring up 30 minutes after the end of the 6 hour stretch the engineer was supposed to arrive in, you get a half arsed apology from a call centre operative who clearly couldn't give a toss at the end of a long day and you are then rescheduled at the back of the queue in the same system, presumably to run the risk of getting bumped again. Earliest date, mid September.

At that point, I let the greatly increased irritability that depression brings get the worst of me and I went nuclear. You will give me a two hour appointment slot, next week on the day of my choice, I shrieked. No, I won't she said. Apparently that requires referring the decision upstairs to a special department and that can't be done till Monday.

Even I recognise that ripping my electricity meter off the wall and throwing it out of the window would be counterproductive. I will just say however that EDF have what is undoubtedly the worst customer service I have ever experienced. The comedy of errors that my switch over to them has been has been going on for an entire year. They make me think fondly of Ryanair, it's that bad. If it wasn't for the fact that I don't think I can face going through this again with another switch, I'd be out of there so fast the static would burn out the National Grid.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Stupid, stupid, stupid

What on earth made me think it was a good idea to go to a comedy show about love and romance? One with audience participation where people shared stories about all the lovely romantic things people have done for them? People don't do romantic things for me - they use me for a bit till they can't tolerate having me about any longer then they throw me away. Mind you, things don't appear to have been much better for the comedians. One stated that she had basically shut up shop after a bad breakup and the other admitted he'd never had a relationship.

I'm not enjoying the Festival at all this year. The only thing that's been half way enjoyable involved warfare, pillaging and death.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Unnatural child: 2

I don't know if anyone watched the BBC's Young, Bright and on the Right but in case anyone did and is wondering, nothing appears to have changed in 28 years. It was exactly like that, down to the Nazi songs and port. I actually found the programme incredibly difficult to watch and had to pause it (iPlayer) several times to let the nausea die down. Was I really that obnoxious? Yes, probably. I was on OUCA committee for two terms (I came top of the ballot in every election I stood in) and only began my slow move to the hard left after I'd been 'knived' by someone if not more ambitious, certainly more adept than me. In many ways, I deeply regret spending that time on student politics when I could have been doing something else like student drama or journalism (did you think I was going to say voluntary work? I haven't changed THAT much...) On the other hand it was the only period of my life when I was consistently happy and having fun. I'm not sure what that says about me. But those now frighteningly repulsive people do undoubtedly explain why I didn't carry on being politically active afterwards.

I also retain my university allegiance clearly because I found the Cambridge lad so objectionable I could have punched him across Parker's Piece whereas I rather warmed to the Oxford one, despite how objectively speaking, his behaviour was so much worse.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Cautionary tales: 3

In a rare bout of optimism, she was foolish enough to think that she could change careers late in life to one that paid more than the minimum wage. She chose something she'd been good at when she was younger but whether through age related atrophy or early onset dementia she wasn't good at it any more. This left her so lacking in confidence that she was unable to manage any kind of work so she survived first by selling furniture, then by selling the cats to a Belgian waistcoat manufacturer and then by selling her flat. She moved into a dustbin where she shortly died, crushed under half a hundredweight of unwanted flyers for an amateur drama group who failed to sell any seats for their performance of Macbeth (the three thousandth production of that play that year at the Fringe).

Monday, 6 August 2012

Cautionary tales: 2

The success of her poorly written trilogy about sadomasochistic sex took her as much by surprise as anyone but she was even more surprised when one of her readers, an unmarried gentleman from Tooting, whose failure to marry or form a normal relationship probably had something to do with his propensity to take everything literally, abducted her one day from her newly purchased £3m mansion. He confined her in his basement, which if not red, was certainly somewhat painful for there was nothing else in there but his electricity meter, not even a bed. He disciplined her daily, applying a hairbrush vigorously to her matronly and capacious haunches and fed her using the gavage method. At one point the police thought they might be able to locate him when he posted a photo to Twitter which showed in one corner the serial number of the electricity meter next to her reddened and scarred rear but unfortunately he was a customer of EDF so to this day she is still missing, although this is not viewed as a major loss to the British literary establishment.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A failure in online stalking

Having had the deeply traumatic experience of seeing the gentleman who dumped me last year a couple of streets from my flat just over a week ago in the middle of a work day, I hastened to LinkedIn in order to check whether he'd landed his dream position at [big bank] just round the corner from where I live and I would therefore have to move. The inconsiderate ass turns out not to have updated his profile since 2009 and is still listed as working for the company he quit (or was booted from, I am unsure which) in 2010. I am now too scared to go out in case I see him again.

Lunatic fringe pt 2

On top of the catastrophic loss of self confidence about my abilities and misery about being single, I utterly hate the way I look at present and a lot of it has to do with that wretched fringe, which I only got because of the cliched desire to change my hair after being dumped (as if I didn't feel bad enough). If it weren't for the fact that the only attractive (to men) thing about me appears to be my hair, I'd go and get a peroxide crop. This photo may explain a lot. Note also the double chin, huge conk, jowls, gut and general encroaching aging. This was taken in late May, rather sooner after the operation than was sensible in retrospect and shortly before I had a complete breakdown, for which that fringe may be partly to blame. The monkey quite rightly looks very unimpressed.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Unnatural child

My father was a Tory. My mother was a Tory. My brother is somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, seemingly unaware that as a yurt dwelling, benefit cheating, illegitimate child having and deserting, non-working, washing-refusenik, mohawk-wearing-in-his-40s waster, he really ought to be hanging and flogging himself,  my cousins are Tory. I think my aunt was Liberal but from the libertarian extreme right wing side of the party.

I used to be a Tory until I grew up and started thinking about things. I can't help feeling that if I were still a Tory I'd be a lot less angry and depressed but however hard I try, I just can't. One of the things that worries me about the SNP is that I suspect an awful lot of them are really Tory at heart but with an overlay of hatred for the English.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

I think I prefer severe depression

Now I'm feeling a little bit better I'm capable again of thinking about all the things that made me depressed in the first place. I'm not sure why this is supposed to be an improvement.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Test your knowledge

I got 21/25. How well can you do?

Insurance companies are evil

Pretty much every single idea I've had over the past few years to raise a bit of money turns out to either invalidate my household insurance or make it so expensive that the idea stops being worth bothering with. I feel completely defeated by life at present.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Massage





One of the worst things about the current situation is that nothing is enjoyable. I coughed up a small fortune on a massage last week in the hope that it might perk me up but nope. Even that monkey had a better time than I did. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Schadenfurde

Schadenfurde - the experience of sinking in relief onto the sofa after cleaning up cat vomit and realising that you missed the most important bit and now have a large furball stuck to the back of your neck.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Attention cat owners

Making sure that all your soft furnishings are the same colour as cat vomit will save you precious minutes worrying about unsuccessful stain removal in the future.

Mustard is the new black.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Today's blog post was supposed to be about how I had finally finished my dissertation

Except I've just been told I haven't. There's another round of revisions to do and a further round to come next week. I suspect I may never finish.

Monday, 9 July 2012

This explains it

Sometimes reading about someone else's issues helps to crystallise one's own. This really resonated.

I still feel dreadful about losing the magazine work in 2008. I feel dreadful about the coaching being a failure. I feel dreadful about the book being a failure. I feel especially dreadful about the book. Now I feel dreadful about the MSc being a waste of time and money and another failure.

I can't think of anything I'm good at and nothing interests me any more. I'm supposed to be job hunting but I can't even manage a conversation about nothing with people I know. Interviews seem inconceivable, always assuming I even get that far. There's only one small thing I can think of that I'm proud of that I've achieved in the last 5 years. I'm useless.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Straight out waste of money




My problems with my fringe continue to upset and offend so I thought I'd give this a try. As you can see, it comes in a box so I did not read the teeny tiny print on the back of the bottle before purchasing. If I had, I would have found out one thing and failed to find out a second. The thing you are told is that to keep your hair straight for three days as promised by this product, you have to use flat irons every day. Not every third day, Every day. If I want to do that, I don't need this product do I? The thing you aren't told is that it doesn't work without also using serum. Without serum it keeps hair straight about 30 minutes maximum. And if I use serum, I don't need this product, do I? And with serum and straighteners, you get about 3 hours of straightness out of it. Pointless waste of money.

Recommend or do not recommend? Do not recommend.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Better?


If the pills don't start working before I run out of monkeys*, we're in trouble.

*I have about two weeks worth of monkeys left.

Have another monkey


Monday, 2 July 2012

Win money

If, unlike me, you have 15 friends and a social life, you should enter this as apparently the number of entries is currently very low so your odds are good.

It's open to anyone not residing in the Axis of Evil so you don't need to be in the US. Mind you, where you could spend the prize these days I'm none too sure.

Horoscopes - more fun after the fact

Here's what apparently happened:
>No matter when your birthday falls, you will find this to be a month filled with communication, quick travel, new people, fresh starts, new offers, and lots of stimulation. You may start a new venture, and if so, you may have meetings to get your venture in the pipeline.

Here's what I remember happening:
I spent nearly the entire month housebound and sleeping 14-16 hours a day and had 3 conversations in total.

Friday, 29 June 2012

I'm a hypocrite clearly

While I get fairly annoyed about the arrangements with the US about extradition affecting people like Richard O'Dwyer who have committed crimes on British soil and therefore surely should be tried in the UK, not the US, even just reading yesterday that the Americans may demand the extradition of Bob Diamond* over the Libor rates fixing scandal pleased me so much that I actually smiled for the first time in over a month.

*can't remember where so no link

Monday, 25 June 2012

Mental health services provision - England v. Scotland

War of attrition

London - tell the doctor you are suicidal - get placed on a 2 year waiting list for counselling.

Catch 22

Scotland - tell the doctor you are too depressed to function. Receive a letter explaining that the mental health system is opt in and that to retain your referral you have to ring up and confirm you still want it. Unfortunately one of the things you now find impossible is making phone calls. Should you make it over this hurdle, get informed by service gatekeeper that you don't appear as depressed as you claim as you managed to make it to the appointment and therefore you do not qualify for help.


The London situation is bad but understandable. The Scottish one is downright evil because it actively weeds out the people who most need help before denying it to everyone else.


Saturday, 23 June 2012

If there's one thing I hate

It's articles like this. I'm 48 now and I've achieved far less than even the 15 year old on that list. Never mind the hideous realisation that I'm not special, I'm not even adequate.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cautionary tales:1

At the last wedding she went to, she caught the bouquet. That meant she'd be the next to get married. Unfortunately no-one could be found who was willing to marry her, not for large financial reward, not even on the pain of death. There were no more marriages throughout the kingdom for the remaining 45 years of her life. Eventually Interflora paid for a hitman from their marketing budget and just to make doubly sure she was married post mortem to the corpse of an illegal immigrant who had been decapitated when his bicycle went under a lorry on the A1. On this occasion the Border Agency did not send the police to disrupt the ceremony.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Those of a sensitive disposition should cover their ear

I'm getting very close to the end of the road with eBay and other people's second hand or sub standard shit. It took 4 shots to buy a summer handbag on eBay that was anywhere near in the condition described (and even so, it was a completely different colour to that shown in the photo but that's minor overall). There was the 'originally extremely expensive bag' that turned out to be something that normally retails on market stalls at about £20, there was the 'minor signs of wear' bag that was heavily stained and there was the admittedly once nice but badly scuffed bag that had been tarted up for sale with shoe polish that ruined my favourite top.

My latest purchase was 40 pairs of earplugs to aid me in my constant struggle to sleep despite the worst depradations of the subhuman morons* who now live downstairs. Or at least I thought it was. Turned out it was 40 earplugs. I can't say I was misled. It didn't say pairs on the listing. But it should have - who the fuck buys earplugs in single instances? Even if I went all van Gogh and ripped an ear off which in my current mental state may or may not have crossed my mind, there'd still be a hole, wouldn't there? Unless I wedged the mutilated cartilege and lobe into it I suppose, instead of feeding it to the cats.

This could possibly be out of proportion to feeling that I've been stiffed out of £3.49 but final straw and all that.

*Young people. I hates 'em.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Lassitude

When the cat starts making biscuits (kneading) on your face and you still can't be bothered to move. It got a bit hairy when she caught a claw in my earring though.

It's like microdermy for cheapskates but with added cat poo particulates.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Jubilation

I want to emigrate. Constant nausea since May 2010 is getting wearing. Also, given I'm unemployed and disabled, frankly terrifying.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Festive

You lot have street parties. We have Orange marches to mark the jubilee. It's a different country up here. There are only 100 street parties up here (against 9500 in England and Wales) and apparently most of those are in Perthshire which is where most of the rich expat English live. Even if you adjust for population, that's about 90% less enthusiasm for Queenie round here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Be careful of what you wish for, because someone else will regret it

Every day Rosa runs to the front door when the postman comes and sits under the letter box. Today her fantasy came true. There was a parcel so I had to open the door and she got to see the postman. She was so terrified by this that she kicked me hard. In the operation boob and nearly re-detached my nipple.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

What's in the box 2: Shellac manicure

One of the things I won in the box was a voucher for a Shellac manicure. I'm not a big professional manicure fan - I don't like having my hands touched very much as it sets off RSI pain. Plus I have short fat fingers and very short nail beds which don't make for an attractive look so I rarely bother (and long nails make me shudder) although I do buy a lot of nail polish because obsessive pointless spending is my hobby.

But I was curious - Shellac is supposed to last for up to 3 weeks without chipping and as any and all nailpolish chips within a day on me, I was interested to see what would happen. Plus, it was free.

Anyhow, I emailed the Shellac PR requesting an appointment near where I live (there's a salon that does Shellac just round the corner). Back she came with an appointment at a salon in Chesser. Translated into London terms, that's like asking for an appointment in Chelsea and being given one in Eltham Forest. In fact I was mildly surprised to find there even was a salon in Chesser. When I had the misfortune of living in Livingston, we used to drive through Chesser to the bypass and its retail facilities seemed limited to boarded up betting shops and off-licences and it looked like it would supply limited business for what is an expensive discretionary service that you can't get off your head on. Plus it's about an hour away by bus. But it was free. And I was quite impressed by the fact that the salon managed its appointments by email.

The day of the appointment, I checked the address on Google streetview and was slightly worried to find that it showed a block of social housing next to some waste ground. Further googling of the address showed it listed as a chip shop.

But it was a salon and the experience was pretty impressive (although bad on the RSI). The nail technician (and salon owner) was Ukrainian and I think could quite easily have run a large company or maybe even a mid sized country. She was a lot cleverer, driven and more personable than most people I meet through business networking for a start and it really was a pleasure to spend an hour with her. Apparently people drive from all over Edinburgh to Chesser for her skills and company, to the point where if I wanted another go, there's a waiting list.

The colour I chose was difficult to photograph - it was a holographic pink layered over steel grey which came out a muted purple, a bit like Chanel Paradoxal (Moonlight & Roses over Asphalt I think). It looks like a regular manicure too rather than the horny fungal hoofed look acrylics give. The photo above is at 13 days after application. Not a chip to be seen  I had it removed shortly afterwards as I don't like long nails but it could easily have lasted a while longer. I was actually very impressed and would have it done again if I ever needed my nails to look 'done' for longer than a day. The only occasion I can think of where a lasting manicure is needed, mind you, is a US business trip where for some reason I cannot fathom, the more tarted up you are the more 'professional' you look. For most other occasions where chipped nailpolish would be a faux pas, short nails and no polish at all would seem to do the trick, I would have thought.

The only downside is that in common with acrylics, you need to soak in acetone to remove it. I don't know whether it was the removing or the actual Shellac but my nails were in hideous shape afterwards, weak, bendy and peeling and two months later are still pretty awful. But I suppose if you got the Shellac redone immediately that wouldn't matter.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Note to self

If you buy a bag for £10 on eBay, there is little point in being disappointed when it arrives and turns out to look worth all of £10.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

What I expected and what I got

What I expected: a very sore appendage and feeling back to normal otherwise within a few days.

What I got: no pain. In fact the other one hurts a lot more. But it's like I've been hit by a steamroller. It's 10 days now since the operation and I can still only walk a few steps without a stick. My legs don't work properly and I'm exhausted to the point of tears the whole time. Or it may be the dissertation making me cry.

I am dealing with this the only way possible - by buying a whole lot of random shit on ebay that I probably won't take out of the packaging if it arrives.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Coming soon

When I'm through with health worries and the ***** dissertation:

posts on Shellac manicures, what the hell am I going to do with my life and how I beat the crap out of a woman called Claire who now crosses the road to avoid me (at a self defence class - what do you think I am?).

Strange branding decisions of our time

And if you don't pay it back on time we'll behead and disembowel you and leave the rest suspended from the nearest bridge.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Poached eggs

There are few things more annoying to the smaller woman than having one's bosom compared to poached eggs. Nonetheless one of these along with a bit of duct tape has been remarkably handy in keeping my wound dry when showering.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Breakfast scene

I shuffled across the road this morning for breakfast, which in retrospect was too much too soon but never mind.

As I was leaving, a delightful family group of parents and two small sticky infants arrived. The cafe has a slightly utopian arrangement that allows customers to pick their own roll from a shelf before handing it over to the counter staff to be turned into a bacon roll. Mostly people do not forage extensively but pick the first roll that comes to hand. Not so with this family. The father 3 times picked up a roll, handed it to his son to fondle and reject and then replaced it on the shelf before trying another. The child then threw a roll on the floor which the father picked up and returned to the shelf, to be eaten hours later by some poor unsuspecting sod.

All of which only serves to reinforce my view that a necessary condition of having a child is house arrest for a minimum of 8 years. I mean, I completely understand that your kiddie's taste in breakfast rolls is the most important thing in the universe to you but does that have to be completely incompatible with a tiny amount of consideration for other people?

Anyhow, that's the last bacon roll I'll be buying from them.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Statistics

On Wednesday I'll be having a full duct excision. Apparently only about 4% of these result in finding cancer but that's still a lot higher than the percentage of Lasik treatments that result in stuff growing inside your eyeball and I managed to score gold on that.

I think I'll be asking for a refund on this body. It's been rather crap really.

Irritatingly, I'll be straight out of hospital and back to the fricking dissertation. I can't even take time off to be ill. One only hopes it won't end up like my first Masters where the health problems I developed on that left me too ill to work for 3 years afterwards and permanently disabled thereafter.

Friday, 20 April 2012

How quickly on oublie

I am mystified by the continuing references in the press to socialist presidential hopeful Francois Hollande as meek, ineffectual and 'decent'. While I have nothing against his policies (indeed I'm quite enthused by them), people seem to forget that if it hadn't been for his duplicitous backstabbing of and refusal to support the previous Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royale, not uncoincidentally his ex-wife, Sarkozy would never have been president in the first place.

Something I regret

Providing the surgery doesn't turn up anything life derailing, I'll be starting job hunting in about 6 weeks time and back to wearing things like suits. I've spent most of the past year and a bit looking unkempt in jeans apart from the brief period of craziness last year when I was wearing very short skirts and too much makeup. Suits, jeans or slapper outfits though, it's all very conventional and I'm starting to regret not doing something interesting as a minimum with my hair like Grace London has while I was a student. I don't know what she does for a living but I'm going to bet it doesn't have much to do with the banking sector.

One thing that has held me back is the question of colour. Lilac looks fabulous on her because she has dark hair and pale skin, as would most unconventional colours, but anything pink, red, purple or orange based is going to look more like a regular dyeing mishap on me given I have reddish hair and I don't much fancy blue or green. If I am to make the most of the next 6 weeks and do something like this, what colour stripe should I go for? Black? White?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Just chop my whole body off

Take my head while you're at it too. This will be my 9th general anaesthetic - please can someone beat this?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

ssshhh, do not speak of it

I get the point of brand protection, I really do, but this is utterly ludicrous. However I am very happy not to further mention or in any way promote this utterly idiotic and wasteful fiesta of self frottage which should have been cancelled the moment the nation went into recession and should certainly have been axed before the government started cutting disability benefits.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Fountain of youth

The more hours a day I spend on this accursed project, the worse my diet gets. In need of a boost at 9pm I went out with the intention of procuring a cream egg. I came home with something I haven't eaten since I was about 11. A sherbet fountain.

For non-British or younger readers this is as close to a chemistry set as you can get in confectionary form. It's basically a stick of liquorice stuck into sweetened bicarbonate of soda. It used to come in yellow paper wrapping with the liquorice sticking out of the top, which, come to think of it, wasn't awfully hygienic although there's precious little in there for bugs to feed on. It used to look like a firework or tiny bomb. These days it's a sealed plastic tube with the liquorice safely inside. It is also, incidentally, halal and vegetarian although I'm not entirely sure how it wouldn't be. I wasn't big into reading ingredients labels when I was 11 but maybe there was bone meal in there or something.

As for taste, it seems lemonier than I recall. The liquorice is as pointless and unpleasant as ever (does any child, except Just William, actually like liquorice?). I suppose you are meant to use it to dip into the sherbet but I always used to pull it out and eat it first to get rid of it. That was harder this time - the sherbet had set into a hard lump and was all set to come out in solid lolly form, stuck to the liquorice. It took some vigorous banging on the desk to break it up. Then I tipped the sherbet into my mouth where as I remember it went simultaneously claggy and fizzy.

One thing hadn't changed though - the volume of gas it creates in the upper digestive tract. To think I used to consume this on the bus.

Given that it is bicarbonate of soda, I wonder if it would cure cystitis?

Friday, 6 April 2012

The mugfin

Other foodstuffs I've learnt of from the Internet. The cake in a mug. I've been messing around with a few recipes recently and think this works quite well:
Mix up:
2oz melted butter
2 tbspn full fat greek yoghurt
1 large egg
2 level tbspn sugar
1/2 tbspn maple syrup
2 level tbspn cocoa
2 tbspn self raising flour
1 tbspn oat bran
Pour into 2 mugs and nuke for 4 minutes. It rises much higher than any other recipe I've tried - must be the acid in the yogurt reacting with something. You could probably add more cocoa if you like it very chocolatey. This also contains less sugar than other recipes I've seen. You could also replace the bran with another spoon of flour. A lot of online recipes use oil rather than butter, which is, I believe, the American way with cakes but butter makes it taste better.

Mmmmm bacon

I've just had some bacon for lunch and as a result got to reflecting on the power of the Internet. The thing is, I don't like bacon very much but nonetheless whenever bacon is mentioned, I immediately think, 'mmm bacon'. And I buy it regularly and eat it regularly too, despite not especially liking it and it being extraordinarily bad for you, and actually not even wanting to eat pork, just because, you know, 'mmm bacon.' I put this down to pretty much everyone else on the Internet loving bacon and saying so repeatedly. One place I hang out, there's a user with the screen name 'baconwithasideofbacon'. This seems to sum up its bizarre power.

Now the flat smells of congealing bacon fat.

Update: as if to prove my point, Wikipedia has a bacon portal. This is the only portal I have come across on Wikipedia.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Things I really object to spending money on

Especially when I am not earning:


Moth control products. Expenditure this year so far is heading for over £100 and the little bastards aren't letting up. They've started on the rugs, most recently.

Light bulbs etc. Both fluorescent tubes in the kitchen have gone. Eating in the dark is impacting my happiness severely but so is the idea of paying an electrician to replace them.

Cleaning products. I'd get a cleaner if I was earning more money than I'd have to pay one. Wait, no I wouldn't because I don't trust anyone enough to leave them unsupervised in the flat. My one and only previous cleaner used to follow me around the flat asking if she could have certain items 'if I decided I didn't want them'. In the end she just took some of them anyhow.

Mobile phone charges. A minor fuck up on my part followed by total assitude by T-Mobile means my phone bill has gone right up this year.

Utilities (1) - I've posted about the screw up with EDF already. Still not resolved and I'm currently waiting on my credit report to see what damage it has done to that.

Utilities (2) - someone is going to have to pay the block electricity bill for the entry phone system soon but it is not going to be me.

New glasses. I bought new glasses 3 months ago. My eyesight has changed considerably in the past 3 months, thanks to the last Lasik cock up. So I need more glasses. I'm not supposed to need glasses at all after Lasik.

Vegetables.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cattitude

If ever anything more clearly said, 'Piss off and die", I'd prefer not to see it.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Four weeks to go till the dissertation hand in date

Time to really up your game and get your head down, said my supervisor.

Great. I've had 3 days off since January and 2 of those were spent at a conference. I'm exhausted and all I want to do is spend the next month sleeping.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Reasons why this isn't really working as a beauty blog so far

1) I can't be bothered to take product photos
2) I feel too embarrassed, old and hideous to post pictures of my face
3) I can't be arsed to remove facial hair and I'm not prepared to take photos of myself with it
4) I haven't got any spare money for buying makeup at the moment
5) I am however still buying it as a somewhat counterproductive stress reduction mechanism which embarrasses me
6) My RSI is hurting too much to make blogging a pleasure at the moment
7) I can't be bothered to upload any of the photos I have taken.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

More on independence

The Tories appear to be getting very worried about this, well ahead of October 2014 or whenever it is the referendum will be held. What they don't seem to realise is that every time they open their mouths and start yipping about how dangerous and wrong it is, Salmond gets a couple of hundred more votes. The best thing they could do is just shut up. And apart from anything else, what they are saying is just plain ridiculous. Independence will put Scotland at risk of terrorism and we'll need armed borders. And we'll be overrun by immigrants. We're already a terrorist target and arguably we're going to be at less risk if we exit the UK. We already have borders - trying getting through the airport queues on international flights without showing your passport to the UK Border Authority. And with fewer than 6 million inhabitants (approximately 10% of the UK population) in roughly 30% of the UK's land mass, we've probably got room for a few more under the covers.

If you'd asked me before May 2010, I'd have been vehemently against independence (it's hard not to take it personally), and I'm still not sure the economics stack up, but frankly the more I look at Alex Salmond's policies compared to David Cameron's, the more attractive the idea of waving farewell forever to the pudding faced old Etonian twerp and his twisted idea of compassionate Conservatism seems.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Breaking news - thought provoked

Just back from a fascinating debate at the National Library of Scotland about independence where a point was raised that had never occurred to me.

Where will Scottish independence leave the more or less uniformly rabidly Unionist Ulster Scots?

Update: See.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Dissertation survey

Please could I ask you all to help me by completing a survey to provide data for my dissertation? It can be found at:
http://www.smart-survey.co.uk/v.asp?i=49296baifl

Thank you!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Monday, 12 March 2012

Finally

A mere 7 months after I tried to change gas and electricity suppliers from Scottish Power to EDF, the transfer has now gone through. It's difficult to figure out exactly whose fault this is - Scottish Power resolutely kept refusing to allow the transfer but that might have had something to do with EDF attempting (successfully at one point and at my expense) to transfer over the account of my upstairs neighbour instead. But that probably has quite a bit to do with Scottish Power flatly refusing to agree that my address is what I (and the payments cards address verification system) say it is, rather than what they say it is.

Still, it's done and I've been refunded for the two months worth of gas I paid for for my neighbour. The problem is that the cheap fixed price deal I tried to transfer to is long gone and I am now paying more than I was paying Scottish Power. And now that EDF have me as a customer, they are being considerably less emollient than they were during the transfer.

I suppose I'll need to transfer again. Not back to Scottish Power who after all fitted this flat with a dual rate meter although there is no storage heating, meaning that I've been paying about 60% more for my electricity than I need to. Nor to N-Power who I understand to be evil incarnate. Does anyone have a utilities provider they like and can recommend?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

It appears I was wrong

It isn't a postpositivist mixed methods grounded theory interview.

It's an anti-foundationalist, critical realist, mixed methods, grounded theory interview.

I apparently had my 'ologies in a twist. This is prone to happen when you are chasing your own tail.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Beauty products I don't understand

The ones that make you look like you've had a full night's sleep when you haven't. The classic is Guerlain Midnight Rescue (which as far as I can tell works by irritating the skin a tiny amount but not too much so you look a bit pink rather than pale green) but also shadows which give the effect of 'a wideawake eye'.

If I haven't had a full night's sleep, the last thing I want is someone thinking I'm bright and perky and expecting a corresponding degree of bright perkiness from me. If I'm feeling like death, I'd rather look like death and then maybe someone will cut me a bit of slack. In fact slightly worse than death would be good because I like managing people's expectations and we can all be pleasantly surprised if I avoid dribbling while I talk.

Why don't you love me, cake?

As I said, a couple of posts ago, about the only pleasure I have time for at present is cake. I love cake. However I am unable to love cake in a reasonable and moderate fashion and as a result, cake doesn't love me back. Cake may even hate me (and by cake I also mean biscuits (cookies) and chocolate). I'm back to getting insomnia issues and I feel really unwell most of the time and I suspect this is diet related. So the obvious thing would be to eat a healthy diet of lean protein and vegetables and a lot less cake. The trouble is that I hate lean protein, although not quite as much as I hate vegetables. I really only love cake. OK, I love toast too but toast has started to give me severe stomach pains (although not quite as bad as the stomach pains pasta gives me but I don't love pasta) so I'm sticking to cake. But for how much longer?

Life is very unfair.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

This isn't just an interview

It's a postpositivist mixed methods grounded theory interview.

This aspect of academia really pisses me off. If I'd wanted to learn about postpositivism, I'd have done a sociology degree, not a computing one. All I wanted out of this was to be able to use a computer well enough to get a computing job and I didn't get that. Getting rid of the old polytechnics for vocational training - another stellar decision.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Cheap thrill

This probably won't mean much to most of you but seeing as I've given up MakeupAlley for Lent, I have nowhere else to crow. I actually spotted a Sleek Rose Gold blusher in the wild and had enough money left over from the week to buy it (yes, I know they only cost £4.29 but times are tight).

I've been wondering a bit about the point of life recently, given how unrelentingly horrible all the big things in life are and I've concluded that frankly it's about shopping and eating cake. If I eat enough cake, I may manage to ensure that I don't live long enough to run out of savings. Result!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Well, that explains a lot

I just ran a chunk of my chick lit magnum opus through this and apparently I write like...

HP Lovecraft.

What do you get?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What?

Obviously, you only have to look at the current political scene in the US to know that science is good and anti-science is bad but nonetheless, the following gave me pause. Paraphrased:
"recent research in the US showed that chickens fitted with red contact lenses showed..."

Well, it doesn't matter what it showed because frankly anything that involves fitting CONTACT LENSES to chickens for crying out loud cannot really be that important can it?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What's in the box: 1. Pass the coathanger

The first service I tried from the vouchers* that came in the box was a Shavata brow threading and tint session. I wasn't really looking forward to this - I get my brows waxed periodically, which hurts and I'd been told that threading was a whole world of pain beyond waxing. Nor did I think that tinting was going to end well but as my brows are now white in places, I decided to risk it. And they really needed attention - when I'm stressed I have minor tricho symptoms and my brows take the brunt. Thanks to the dissertation hell I am extremely stressed at present.

The treatment took place in Harvey Nichols in full view of passing shoppers. In fact the threading barely hurt at all. I felt a little bit like one half of a velcro pair - it was prickly but very fast and far far less painful than either wax or plucking. I was very pleased with the shape too - natural but a lot tidier.

The tint I was less sure about. The dye was only left on for a minute or two and when I left the store it looked fine - a shade darker than my natural brow colour and nice and even but nothing extreme. However it can't have been removed properly because it continued to develop and half an hour later I was full on Joan Crawford and not very happy. I was told to use clarifying shampoo to strip the colour out and repeatedly washed my brows over the course of the next few hours. Overall it still looks a bit harsh to me if I'm not wearing makeup.

The combined service would have cost £35 if I were paying for it. I will consider threading again if I  ever feel financially flush again although it is considerably more expensive than waxing. The tint I think I'll pass on.

Before/after




* V. has already used a London only voucher for a Rene Guinot facial and reports that it was 'lovely'.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Don't let the door hit ya

It strikes me that a key strength you need to be a successful CEO of a major bank, especially in the current economic climate is good judgment*. Public whining about having to give up your bonus because of media and political pressure does not display good judgment in the current environment. Ergo, you are lacking one of the key strengths of a good CEO and you hence do not deserve a bonus.

I interviewed Stephen Hester once, I can't remember what for but it was before he was at RBS. Pretty much everyone I've ever interviewed has managed to be charming and polite, however stupid (or indeed to the point) my questioning. As I've said before, Fred Goodwin, even Fred Goodwin, was quite delightful. My abiding memory of Stephen Hester was that he was quite the most unpleasant, arrogant, rude man I'd ever spoken to.

*And I do not believe that this, along with the other requisite properties, is the sole preserve of a highly select few people.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bargain

I've just dropped the Kindle price of The Trouble with Toyboys to 99c. Go on, you know you want to...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Horse o'doom - mawkish and cheap

Just back from seeing War Horse. I'd originally wanted to see the stage version and I really really should have stuck with that impulse, particularly given my current rage filled frame of mind.

Richard Curtis was involved with the screenplay. Do I need to say anything else?

I don't know why (I'm reasonably fond of horses, I ride and I come from a horsey background) but given the back drop of the Great War (over 35 million casualties), I really cannot raise even the faintest glimmer of a fuck about what happens to one dreadfully irritating central casting yokel (and the succession of equally annoying German and French teens who took brief ownership of horsey, all rapidly despatched) and his quadruped. Given that they (yokel and nag) were reunited I suppose that the ending was 'happy' but all I feel is manipulated. Given that dreadful things happened to pretty much anyone that the horse touched apart from said yokel, one could really question the totemic value of that horse. And to be quite honest by the end of the film, I'd have happily shot the boy and the horse myself had a shotgun been to hand.

Overall, I largely agree with this review, although the star rating I'd award is rather lower.

Things I don't understand

1) Why Edinburgh can't do rain without simultaneously doing howling wind. Within 5 minutes of leaving the flat this morning I'd broken yet another umbrella. This made my subsequent mistake in getting the wrong bus and ending up about half a mile from where I wanted to be that much worse.

2) What it is about my face that even when my inner monologue is full of apocalyptic rage and I am clearly in a hurry, it looks like I would be happy to stop in a torrential gale without an umbrella to discuss Jesus. I really don't get it - I attract these people like flies. Even assuming that my exterior does speak of an inner misery that only an acquired belief in an imaginary ceiling cat could assuage, why would you stop me in this weather? And I hope that's something that young Elder Bland had time to consider after the police had removed me from his throat.

While I really don't care what any given individual believes in as long as they keep it to themselves and don't either talk about it to the rest of us or slaughter people because of it, this only serves to reinforce my suspicion that hell, should it exist, will be full of the overtly religious.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Like the tortoise and the hare but nobody wins

So it turns out that one of my class mates (and possibly tutorial partner, I forget) at Oxford has just been fined £2.9m by the FSA and banned from the City. I'm trying to work out whether this makes me feel better about having been a consistent career failure ever since graduating or not (not very far to fall for me, should I ever decide to do anything dodgy). I wouldn't describe this as schadenfreude - all I feel is a degree of surprise and admiration that he did that well in the first place (being Asian and getting into Oxford in the early 80s was quite a thing, never mind a job in the City and he wasn't the outstanding student in our year (nor was I)). Anyhow, however much I might whinge at present, at least I'm not bankrupt (yet), although I imagine he has probably transferred most of his assets to his spouse in preparation for this, if he has any sense.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wolves - not as scary as dissertations

I love this. It inspired me to spend the morning trying to draw the cats instead of getting on with my dissertation proposal, which is shaping up (if that is the right word for something where I am so totally paralysed by fear that I'm not doing anything) to be a total disaster.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Drowning in stuff

 I alluded earlier to a surfeit of hair products. In fact I have a surfeit of all sorts of products, to the extent that I feel somewhat oppressed at times, while still wanting more (of course). Part of the reason for this is that last year, shortly after being dumped, something surprising and nice happened. I won a draw at Harvey Nichols (my spiritual home) for the Harpers Hot 100 products - the best 100 beauty products of the year. Here are a few pictures of the bounty.


 With cats, for scale
The upper stratum

It will be a while before I have to buy any moisturiser again. Which given my current financial situation is a good thing.

Now quite whether these are the best 100 products is questionable. Some magazines, and I don't know if this applies to Harpers or not, select their 'best' products of the year largely on the input of the advertising department rather than through any merit on the part of the products. But I was pleased to see a bottle of Clinique Laser Focus serum in there and that is a product that would win my personal best of award any time - I've been using it for about 6 months and it is absolutely amazing in my opinion.

The other thing about winning stuff is that it brings you into contact with PRs and that is something that quickly disabuses one of any illusion that being a 'winner' is something that makes you special, deserving of respect or anything other than an accessory to a PR opportunity. Years ago I won a slogan competion with a prize of some Inwear clothes and it was made very clear indeed that if I could not get time off work to receive them on a day that was convenient for the PR rather than one that was convenient for me, I would forfeit the prize. This time round, it was a considerable amount of time before the prize was actually delivered and then only on the second day I requested, having sat in all day the previous week under the illusion that we'd arranged a delivery time. Plus some of the service related items in the prize like facials are only available in London. V. is currently enjoying them on my behalf. Lucky I don't like facials really.

But even so, it was just what I needed at a point when I was very low indeed and I managed to stretch the unpacking process over 4 days.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

It's what's on the outside that counts

Boz has just posted about his conflicted desires for a Kindle. For me, the thing that made me want one was seeing the metallic red patent leather Kindle cover my friend A's fiance had bought her for her Kindle. I like leather, mmmkay?

Metallic patent has proven hard to come by but I have bought a quite splendid red lizard effect leather Kindle sleeve on Etsy from Gardenour Leather. Cases are obviously available from Amazon and people who like to read in bed (I don't) seem to swear by the ones with a built in light but they are fairly expensive (more so on Amazon UK than US Amazon of course) and the quality of the leather used is shoddy. I also didn't want a book cover type case - mine is simply a sleeve that the Kindle slips into. I'm very pleased with my purchase - even with postage from the US it barely came to £30 and it's similar quality to cases sold by Smythson for 3 or 4 times that amount (and Samantha Cameron doesn't work for Gardenour either - mind you they could be Tea Partiers - I didn't ask. But the leather is excellent quality and so is the workmanship).

Monday, 23 January 2012

1% bad

That's how the surgeon described my eye on Friday. I'm not having surgery for the time being - we're keeping an eye on it. Quite how he decided that I don't know because he didn't bother examing it properly. Let's hope he's right and his alarmist colleague (who did examine it) isn't.

Anyhow, it's an improvement on the rest of life which I would describe as approximately 75% bad at present.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

I'm my own worst enemy

The camera is no longer within guarantee so I can't return it. The aqua tint has been a problem since day one so I could have done something about it last year. But I didn't, because I was too busy, or too depressed, or too forgetful, even though it ruined my holiday photos from New Zealand. It seems to affect outdoor photos only and turns everything blue or grey a strange shade of turquoise. It's annoying me. Almost as much as I am annoying me at present. Of course, I can adjust the colour balance on the computer afterwards but that's no fun when you have over 1000 photos.

So, it's the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8. I'm not sure I'd buy a Panasonic again after this. What sort of camera do you have and does it have any peculiarities?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Play list

I across this list while trying to remember a song* that was lurking around the back of my mind and am now working my way through it while waving my fist around vaguely.

*Eve of Destruction.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The problem with the fundamental concept

In fact I have three issues with running a shopping blog. The practical one is that I am shockingly bad at photography, especially product photography, and my Panasonic Lumix camera tints everything aqua. If it's still within guarantee, I think I may return it. It's been disappointing.

The second one is that shopping isn't exactly a straightforward pleasure for me. I'd classify it rather as addictive behaviour and given how life has been recently there has been a lot of 'acting out'. A lot. Despite my lack of earnings. So actually I'm rather ashamed of myself and blogging about it seems odd. Plus most of it is still in carrier bags/suitcases, in true shopaholic fashion.

Finally, I feel a little uncomfortable showing people nice things I have when they themselves don't have them. It seems boastful. I'm not entirely sure what that is about. It's not like I seethe with envy when I read other shopping blogs or think that the bloggers are showing off. Maybe I feel I don't deserve nice stuff. I don't know.

So quite where this blog is going to go, I really don't know.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Lunatic fringe

Now I have a fringe, I'm having to think about things I have not previously considered. I've bought straighteners and multiple strange hairbrushes, which hurt. I've moved from slapping a bit of conditioner on, combing and forgetting about my hair to having to use product. Which hurts. For reasons that may become apparent if I get round to uploading the pictures, I have quite a lot of different products hanging around at present (although no serum or heat protector or hairspray so I still had to cough up for those. Which hurt). It's all intensely irritating, especially as people have either not commented about the fringe or told me that I look tired.

However, I can't just leave it because it looks appalling au naturale - curly, frizzy and sticky outy. I was going to post a picture of Grayson Perry at this point but a quick look at Google Images shows that he has his fringe under far better control than I do.

So here are the products I've tried so far with the straighteners:

  • Paul Mitchell leave in conditioner (my previous defrizzing and curl enhancing standby): rubbish. No straightening power at all.
  • Moroccan Oil (apparently what the salon used): as used by the hairdresser kept my fringe straight for 3 days (no rain). As used by me (immediate rain) kept my fringe straight for about 5 minutes.
  • Ojon Conditioning Finishing Paste, plus Kiehl's Creme with Silk Groom: one day so far (immediate rain). However my hair looks lanky and sticky and about 3 shades darker.
Further product reports to come as I try them out.

The straighteners by the way are Remington and cost £18 from TKMaxx. They have ceramic plates and look no different to the expensive sort you see for sale in salons.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New and not improved

It is a mistake to think that change inevitably means progress.

Before we had digital television, I could receive BBC channels. Now I can't.

I wouldn't be having the problems with utility suppliers that I am if they had never been privatised. A single non-profit making state owned enterprise is a wondrous thing. The improvements brought by market forces aren't terribly apparent to me. I blame Thatcher.

Free directory enquiries was pretty nice too.

Relaunched or reformulated fragrances are inevitably the worse for it (I'm looking at you Dior).

The current government is in no way better than the last government.

This blog is supposed to be better than the last one but it probably won't be.

On the other hand, 2012 surely has to be better than 2011.


Can you think of something that was better after it was improved?