Saturday, 30 June 2012


The skip is on the drive, dust sheets have been laid out in the rest of the house, TP and I are in our scruffiest clothes and are wearing a natty line in dust masks and eye protectors. There will be no more procrastination*. It is time to take down the Dining Room ceiling ...

...and that is how our day was filled; pulling down the Victorian era lath and plaster ceiling chunk by chunk followed by a forensic examination of the joists to remove any remaining nails. There was then a joyful couple of hours loading the debris in to a wheel barrow to be hauled and dumped in the aforementioned skip.

I think it is fair to say that by the end of the day we were both absolutely knackered.

Just as I was clearing up the last of the dust Steve appeared at the door to confirm that he and Andy would be here on the ninth. He was impressed by the state of the room and expressed surprise when he learnt that it had only taken us a day to prepare for the replastering.

Considering the age of this part of the house it is in good condition but a peculiarity of Victorian building techniques was that they would insert random blocks of wood in the inner face of an 8" wall.** There are a good few of these in this room and many of them have suffered the ravages of time. I believe the technical term for this is "rotten as fuck". Fortunately A&S are more than capable of chopping these out and replacing with bricks

All I need to do now is sort out the electrics before Andy & Steve turn up.
* especially as Andy & Steve are booked in to come and re-plaster on 9th July
** presumably because they were available and less expensive than bricks

Friday, 29 June 2012

I haven't really been busy

I find myself in the latter half of Friday and note that The Journal is looking a little empty ...

... Well Tuesday and Wednesday were filled and I am using "filled" in the loosest sense of the word with preparation for a Client Meeting on Thursday and a series of on-line training / briefing / boring sessions that needed to be completed. I think it fair to say that these were not the most strenuous working days that I have ever encountered.

I finally reached Thursday, crammed myself in to my suit and trundled in to the Nearest Circle of Hell to meet up with the Sales executives that had arranged the client session. I must admit that I was having problems working out what the purpose of the session was and their suggestion that I just "chip in here and there" wasn't exactly clarifying matters either. A little before midday we set out for the meeting which was to be held in one of the slightly more civilised areas of the Black Country*. I must admit that I had a little fun at the expense of the Sales Exec as I had offered him a lift and left it until I opened the rear door of the Defender for him to work out that this was his ride to the Client's Office ...

... to be fair he took it really well.

We reached the Client's offices and were escorted in to a crummy conference room and spent the next three hours walking three fairly junior IT Managers through the basics of setting up an Outsourcing Agreement. I think it is fair to say that they were very naive and at one point appeared to be on the point of moving well in to the category of "shitting themselves". Reading between the lines it looks like their CIO has hired some hot shot Consultant and promised a humungous bonus if he can get rid of a load of cost in the next few months. The aforementioned Consultant is now breathing down the necks of the incumbent IT and Procurement Teams to get the  whole lot done for less.

To be honest the poor devils are floundering and we have offered some assistance to try to get the opportunity shaped so that it would suit us but some of the messages coming at in Thursday's session raised all sorts of alarms. Phrases like "mess for less" and "limited or zero growth" are not very likely to have me champing at the bit to get involved with this one further down the line.

And so I find myself at Friday ... this morning I took a trip down the M5 to sunny drizzly Weston-super-mare to pick up an eBay bargain. Last week I found a full length aluminium roof rack at an unbelievable price in the Global Flea Market. I watched it expecting it to soar in price but it just never happened and I now have a shiny piece of kit bolted to the roof at half the price I expected to pay.

We can now go on holiday without having to drag a Camping Trailer to South Wales.
* If you have ever visited Tipton, Bilston or Walsall you might agree that Dudley and it's environs could possibly** be described as civilised
** I am using "civilised" in the loosest sense of the word

Monday, 25 June 2012

I hear dead people

I have a cordless 'phone at home. Now if I was typing this in the 1980's I might seem like some sort of early-adopter techno geek but here in 2012 it is an old-hat piece of technology in a world of smart 'phones and a population where a significant proportion no longer have a land line in their home.

OK, so where is this going? Well I have noticed that my cordless 'phone appears to be operating on an FM frequency that is very close to that of Radio 4. I use the 'phone a lot and first noticed it a good while back ... in the background there is a tinny, low level dialogue that is frustratingly just too quiet to identify. It was only when I picked up the unmistakable Archers theme tune one afternoon that I finally realised what the source was. Nowadays I am tuned in to it and can recognise the hourly time signal tones and snippets of voice and music.

Another explanation is that either my 'phone or me is somehow linked in to an alternate universe or plane of being. If that is the case and I am tuned in to the after life then I have gleaned some worry facts. Firstly there does not appear to be a naked Indian, with a gourd on his penis, acting as a Spirit Guide thereby denying me a lucrative career opportunity as a Medium.* The barely audible babble is not to be deciphered by a man wearing ochre and a member** of the Cucurbitaceae. I will not be making a mint by advising distraught relatives that recently departed Mam did want the house to go to Chanel and Tyler rather than let Dad sell it and invest in a dubious scheme involving a sure thing that will get 'em minted.

The other thing that is worrying me is that the after-life appears to be a bit Radio 4. Now I am a huge fan of Radio 4 but if, after shuffling off this mortal coil, I find that my atheist beliefs have been totally wrong and I am in fact to enter a higher plane of being the last thing I think I will need is The Today Programme, Woman's Hour, The Archers and Desert Island Disks. Great though they all are I would be hoping for something a little less terrestrial***
* The cruel might say that I am most definitely not a Medium
** Did you see what I did there?
*** Some might describe it as the land of milk and honey. Hmm, if that is the case it is going to smell a bit after a few days and the wasps are going to be terrible.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday in brief

There is not a huge amount to report for Sunday; a trip to the feed store was my first activity then I spent a couple of hours applying and polishing a coat of wax on the bannisters. This was my penultimate task on the Landing leaving just the replacement of a couple of stair nosings* before the carpet fitter can do his stuff. The afternoon involved a wander around the Three Miler and then very little else ...

... I see Monday approaching.
* I have a ceiling to pull down first. These will be sorted in a couple of weeks time

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Odds 'n Ends

Saturday started at a very leisurely half past eight, coffee was imbibed, toast was eaten.

The weather forecast suggested the arrival of a huge band of rain later in the day so outdoor activities were dealt with first; T&M were walked around the Three Miler and The Porn Mower was given a run around the lawn ... The Garden now looks quite tidy if you don't look too closely at the beds or in to the shrubs*

I think I may have peaked too early as it was a case of lunch and then most definitely nothing at all before mid afternoon guilt set in and I wandered in to the "to be" Dining Room and got busy with a screw driver. The curtain rails were taken down and the fire back and surround were removed.

Before ...
The fire back is long past it's best and a replacement is sat in the garage waiting to be installed once the plaster work and floors have been completed. I took a few minute to play with some image editing software to try to get an impression of how the marriage of Edwardian surround and Victorian back will look and I think it will be a success.

Hopefully something like this ...
After that it was time to get tidied up and out of the door for dinner with the Oranges & Lemons clan ... I'm guessing it will be a late one.
* its a jungle out there

Friday, 22 June 2012

Musical Chairs

Yesterday I made the statement that "Thursday was the new Friday" and planned to have a very easy day ... it just goes to show that I know nothing. Early in the day The Idiot Manager called to advise that I had been redeployed from my current project and handed me two new pieces of work that I needed to get up to speed with as quickly as possible.

As a result I spent a large chunk of the day chasing people and arranging hand-over and briefing sessions.*

At the end of the day I was most definitely looking forward to the weekend but before that started I was required to run TP up to Nottingham. I therefore had a further 3 hours in the car before I could finally assume the role of Couch Potato#1**

* and my expenses, and chatting to Tigger, and arranging for a skip, and walking T&M
** For Fucks Sake Apple, why do you deem it unnecessary to have a "Hash Key" on your keyboard? ***
*** I learnt today that it is [Alt] + [3]

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Thank God That's Over

Another entry covering two days ... it has been a busy week.

Wednesday should have been filled with me studiously preparing for the client presentation on Thursday. I think it is fair to say that I have been somewhat preoccupied with this meeting as I am not a natural salesman and am being asked to spin the positives of something that currently has less substance than a light mist ... Cloud Bullshitting is a most accurate description.

I seem to have wandered slightly off the point or, perhaps more accurately, I was required to "wander away" as Wednesday was SMS's Father's funeral. Obviously it was a very sad day but he had made marvellous plans and the choice of venue was astounding. His chosen crematorium had a glass wall that meant the congregation sat looking at the coffin and behind was an elevated view over the trees and fields of Redditch's Abbey Park. It was splendid in the afternoon sun and made an initially odd choice make a lot of sense. There was a moment of humour too as he had apparently been interred with a copy of the Stratford Herald carrying his obituary so that he could be sure that he was dead.

A surprise attendee was my elder sister who I haven't spoken to since 2008, and very little prior to that, I think it fair to say that the conversation was stilted at best and I am absolutely certain it will be at a similar occasion that will be the cause of our next meeting too.

After the wake I was back at the desk writing presentation scripts and trying to make the words stick in head. I had rehearsal call with Victor and he seemed reasonably pleased with my spiel adding only a couple of more positive points.

Thursday started very early and I was out of the door by half past six and turning in to the car park of our "pre-meet" venue just after eight thirty. We spent a couple of hours going over last minute changes and making sure we were all "on message" and then it was a short drive over to the Presentation venue.

It all went really well and due to a lingering session on our Architectural Proposals I was asked to rattle through my slides. The consequence was that I did no more than stress they key points and tell Victor to move to the next slide ... It was a great experience and one that I will now feel a lot more comfortable with next time.

The car park, post-match analysis suggested that we had down enough and should expect to be going through to the next round which will be announced towards the end of July.

It was most definitely a case of Thursday being the new Friday as I climbed in to the car for the drive home. I plan to do very little tomorrow on the work front.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Two Days in One

This is the week in which we make our presentation to our prospective client. A result of this is that work is filled with draft after draft of PowerPoint slides with the occasional review of the deck for a little light relief.

There is no way I can make this interesting so I am not going to make an attempt.

A positive aspect of the reviews is that Victor has cut a number of my slides to keep within the time limits. If he carries on like this I will just have to introduce myself then sit there and listen whilst munching my way through the plate of biscuits.

Tuesday was a long day as Victor decided that central London was a convenient location to work from ... a three hour journey each way with at least eight hours of work in the middle ... it might have been convenient for him but a fourteen hour day where almost half of it is spent on packed trains is a long way off my definition of convenient.*

I thought I liked travelling on trains but today's journeys have added a few caveats to that statement. I can now advise that I like travelling on empty trains where I have space to spread my stuff out and alternate between snoozing and viewing the countryside. Today's trains were packed with Commuters and there was hardly space to sit let alone read or balance a laptop on the pathetic excuse for a table that drops from the back of the seat in front.

I'd like to give a special mention to the grumpy man I sat by on the journey home. I may have mentioned that the trains were packed and he was sat in the aisle seat with a vacant window seat next to him. I put on my cheery voice and asked if the seat was free. He looked at me like I had just asked him if he had any naked pictures of his wife and then GRUDGINGLY lifted himself out of his seat so that I could take mine. I thanked him in the same cheery voice and he sat down saying nothing, not a word, not a peep .... miserable sod. I must admit I was half tempted to annoy him further by engaging him in conversation and thought about asking him to join me in a short prayer to our Lord for a safe and speedy journey.

I'd also like to ask why First Great Western have spent a fortune installing aeroplane style television units in to the seat backs. I can see the purpose of these devices when one is 50,000' in the air as there are only so many clouds one can look at before boredom sets in but a British train travels at an altitude of 0' and consequently there is a huge amount of Britain to take a look at and even the worst of that is far better than the viewing options they had kindly selected for my "pleasure"

There is no way I am going to wander down to the Buffet Car and spend a couple of quid on earphones to watch yet another re-run of Top Gear when I can have a huge chunk of rural England displayed for free. I also shudder to think what Mr Grumpy would have done if I needed to get up anyway.
* to avoid any doubt, I work from home a lot therefore convenient is out of bed, down the stairs across the hall and through the Office door.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


This weekend was another two days spent sorting out the house. This may sound like drudgery but it is quite the opposite. We are finally at the point where we have moved from "Building Site" to "Nearly Finished"* and are able to see and enjoy the fruits of our labours.

I spent Saturday morning installing an alarm system in the garage. This seemed to go reasonably well but I must admit that I haven't yet got around to testing it. It makes the right sort of beeps when I arm and disarm it and that is good enough for the moment. Perhaps I will give 30% inaccurate rather vague instructions and let her set it off when she goes out to make a deposit or withdrawal from the freezer.

The reminder of Saturday involved a trip to the supermarket and the deposit of a huge amount of paperbacks at the local Charity Shop ... The de-cluttering continues.

Sunday morning was supposed to see me stood on a Rugby pitch whilst TP trained. This did not happen as neither TP nor 30% stirred from their beds before ten o'clock. I used this gifted couple of hours to rip the last of the CD collection to iTunes and get T&M walked before the Heavens opened.

I also paid a visit to wish BMS a Happy Father's Day and spent an hour or so chatting and drinking coffee with him and SMS.  He has recently inherited a pair of mobility scooters and the first of these has now arrived. I have been recruited to go and pick up the second in a few weeks time and this is one of the reasons for the drive to clear the garage at home ... BMS will need to scale down his power tool collection in order to store the larger of the two scooters** and as a result I will soon be inheriting his Planer Thicknesser.

I wondered how BMS would perceive the need to use a scooter as a consequence of his ageing and can report that he seems to see this in a positive way and is already planning a trip to the local garden centre.

Back at home the clearance of the Dining Room was finally completed and TP and I celebrated by stripping the sagging wallpaper from the walls ...

... next job; removal of the fire surround and then the ceiling will be taken down.
* That still involves the complete refurbishment of three rooms though
** One is a "portable" model that can be carried in the car. The other is most definitely "roam from home" only.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Adding Value

I spent the day at the nearest Circle of Hell poring over PowerPoint Slides with Victor.

This is about as much fun as it sounds but there were couple of high points in the day; firstly the Facilities People have finally removed the speed bumps from the site roads. This might sound a little pathetic, especially as I drive a Defender, but they were on the large size of huge and necessitate a change down from third to second at each encounter. Previously, by the time I reached the car park, I was fed up with the jarring interruptions, now I can speed around the site terrorising pedestrians and cyclists with no impediment ... Bliss

The second high point was that I finally managed to get Victor to do some very simple sums to estimate the potential scale of the latest project. I have been concerned for some weeks about mixed messages from the Sales Team and, allegedly, the client. The Client didn't want to feel "second division" and the "numbers" being called out by the Sales Guys just didn't match with the scope being presented...

Basically Sales were calling out a reasonable sized catch of Bass but the Client scope was suggesting a record breaking Marlin...

... after presenting Victor with some startling numbers he sharpened his pencil and checked my calculations. After we had managed to re-locate his jaw I watched as he made a few "urgent" calls to his Superiors to ensure common understanding ...

... a point to me, I think.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sofa So Good ...

On the work front we now have  better view of the lie of the land. Our prospective client has decided that the material crap we carefully assembled chucked together  two weeks ago meets their selection criteria and we have been deemed suitable to turn up and deliver a presentation to them on 21st June...

... at this point I am taking a moment to consider how bad any of our Competitors must have been to not make the cut.

So with this additional detail I now know that our Session will be longer than we originally expected and I will now have ten slides to fabricate and present rather than my original five. I have to admit that I am not looking forward to this at all. I thought that there was a potential "get out" as I have a funeral to attend next week but the dates do not coincide ...

... Bugger!

Away from work Bad Man Senior joined* me for lunch today and we had a great couple of hours catching up with each others news. He is quite happy to potter around and play with the dogs** while I work. He seems to enjoy the change of scenery and pace as SMS still works which means that he often only has Tilly for company during the day. Neither of us had anything of great import to impart but we just enjoyed each other's company and he likes to catch up on our latest home improvements.

On the subject of Home Improvements, yesterday evening we popped over to collect a sofa from a local lady who is a bit of a genius when it comes to reupholstery. This cane backed item had sat in our garage for many years but seemed ideal for the landing. After a bit research we managed to buy an upholstery hide from eBay for less than the price of a square metre of decent Upholstery Fabric and so the sofa is now refinished in a beautiful chestnut coloured leather. It now has pride of place on the Landing and fits perfectly against the wall by the window.

We still need to sort out the curtains
* When I say "joined" I mean "I picked him up" as he has given up his car and rarely drives nowadays leaving that sort of thing to Step Mum Sue (SMS).
** This involves getting them to sit in a line, staring adoringly while he feeds them morsels of Digestive Biscuits. It is no wonder that his Vet recommends that Tilly looses some weight and that I need to walk T&M for at least three miles most days

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Carpe (t) Diem

It is Tuesday and procrastination at work would be very dangerous* so I made a start on throwing some ideas in to a PowerPoint Slide Deck. The creative juices were flowing oozing reasonably well and after half an hour or so I had my first subject outlined. I chucked a copy over to Victor to get some feedback and he seemed quite happy so, with that encouragement, I carried on.

Late in the afternoon I knocked off to receive an expected visitor ...

... Last Sunday 30% persuaded me to take time out and nip over to a nearby village where there was an Oriental Rug Sale. If I'm honest I didn't take much persuading as, over the years, I have picked up a few rugs on my travels in Turkey and holidays in Egypt. We both, however, were somewhat cautious with an expectation of encountering a couple of Shady Geezers flogging machine woven, chemically died, mass produced rugs...

We, in fact encountered, quite the opposite; the Host was an established importer with more than 20 years in the Business who certainly knew his stuff. His Carpets ranged from simple runners to massive, intricate pieces that originally graced the interior of nomadic tents. We wandered around admiring his wares but unfortunately the colourways just weren't what we were looking for. He advised that he only had a small portion of his stock on display and had some local deliveries to make later in the week and asked if he could pop in with some carpets that might be more to our decor.

Today he called in and it is fair to say that both 30% and I were gobsmacked by what he had selected. They were truly beautiful, hand woven pieces that had been produced 30 to 40 years ago. After much stroking and standing back to admire the designs we finally settled on a runner for the bedroom and two other rugs for the Lounge and Dining Room.**

Initially they seemed a little extravagant but after being quoted between £425 and £650 to supply and lay a decent quality stair carpet they actually seem incredibly reasonable. 
* There is a very real risk that we could be called upon to deliver this Presentation as early as next Monday so we need to have something to waffle in front of.
** Although, being rugs, they can be moved from room to room on a whim

Monday, 11 June 2012

Instead of a title imagine me shrugging ...

Today was a reasonably paced day at work. I had enough to get on with but nothing that needed doing urgently. So I settled down at the desk and made a start; flitting between activities and calls at a leisurely pace. All was going swimmingly until the three o'clock call ...

... After the frenetic activities of the week before last Victor had given me a few days to catch my breath and was now thinking of the next steps. Our prospective new client is a little imprecise on the timelines for this courtship* and there is a fairly strong possibility of us being called in to deliver a presentation at some point during the last two weeks of this month. Let's pause and take stock of that statement ...

... at some point between the 18th and 29th June (that is ten working days) there is a reasonable possibility that an unknown number of employees from Dante's Nine Circles of Hell will be invited to an unknown location ** and be asked to deliver a presentation of an unknown duration on a subject yet to be specified. The more observant amongst you will notice that the word "unknown" appeared a couple of times there. Now I fully understand why Victor wants us to be as prepared as possible and it is a reasonable supposition that our Presentation will be about the range of services we would propose to provide so that has converted one of the "unknowns" to a "probable" but we still don't know when, for how long and how many of us idiots they are prepared to provide tea and biscuits for.

As a result we are knocking up some generic material that can be honed and polished*** once we get our invitation. My problem is that I have been given four slides to draft describing a solution that doesn't exit yet - I kid you not. So far this prospective client has given us some scant information about their operations and asked a huge amount about our capabilities. They have been incredibly light on actual requirements and scope. I am therefore tasked with making some generic nonsense look like I have read their minds and have supreme insight that will solve all their woes...

There is then a reasonable possibility of me having to present and then take questions. Hmmm?
* Having said that I have seen far, far worse
** Highly likely to be near Basingstoke
*** the polishing sequence goes; 1) Turd, 2) Sow's Ear, 3) Silk Purse ****
**** 1 and 2 are common enough. 3 is as rare as Rocking Horse shit, which interestingly takes us back to 1.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Warning ...

... for all those thinking of coming to Britain.

As the economic issues in Europe bite deeper still job losses and poverty are now real problems across the Continent. These are dark times in deed and, with no sign of recovery, certain sections of the community are resorting to age old tactics to put bread on the table and keep the wolf from the door.

Thought to be a piece of history it is now apparent that the Highwayman is now making a comeback in parts of the UK and travellers are reporting incidents where  dashing but anonymous, black cloaked, pistol waving felons are holding up vehicles and pedestrians with the shout of "Stand and Deliver". These unfortunates are then having their wallets lightened and their spouses are being subjected to leering glances and mild sexual innuendo*.

In the UK the local authorities are doing their best to warn the public by erecting appropriate signage in high risk areas. This sign, and a number of similar variants, are being installed across the country and you should be on your guard against theft and worse.

Your Money or Your Life
The advice to travellers is to employ burly but friendly locals to accompany you on trips in rural parts. These can be recruited in any local tavern and will be quite willing to provide guard services for a shilling** at most. Feel free to approach any large, brutish looking men in a British Pub and ask them if they fancy a ride out down a dark lane with you. They will be more than happy to help out. For ladies travelling alone all I can suggest is the avoidance of low cut dresses and if the worst happens ...

... swoon.
* apparently not always unwelcome
** 5 pence or about 8 US cents

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Hello Stranger

Much of June has been a total washout. The weather has been appalling and it feels more like March with the climate controls seeming to be stuck on the rain and cold winds setting. A result of this is that I have only been out on my bike once this year and have been not overly concerned about collecting the Ducati from Moto-vation in Cheltenham.

She has sat in Tim's workshop since the Autumn as, at 12 years of age, it was time for a minor refurbishment to keep her looking her best. After a minor hitch with the engine casing paint she was finally ready for collection today and, as luck would have it, Saturday looks like being the only fine day in this spell of miserable weather.

Once again,Tim had performed his magic and she looked fantastic sat outside the workshop. The engine casings had been re-painted after alloy corrosion had caused the original finish to bubble, the exhaust pipes had been polished and a carbon fibre "Hugger" mudguard had been fitted.

Shiny, shiny
Tim looked slightly concerned when he mentioned that the Hugger was a second hand unit that he had removed from another bike and that I could have it for 40% of the price of a new one. If he hadn't told me I would have never known as it was immaculate. It just goes to show what a decent  chap he is. I finally got around to asking about the bill and that was another surprise ...

... after nine months in his workshop and needing two attempts to get the engine paintwork correct plus an intricate piece of carbon fibre I was expecting, no hoping for, a bill that had three figures rather than four before the decimal point. I was flabbergasted when he presented the invoice and it was less than half of what I hoped it would be.

She is now safely tucked back in the garage, snug under a dust sheet, waiting for the sun to shine.

The rest of the day involved preparations for this evening as 30%'s Mum and Dad were over for dinner; dogs were walked, the house was tidied and food got cooked...

... A fine time was had and we have decided that Blackberry Vodka and Lemonade has the potential to be a VERY dangerous alcopop.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Baby Minding.

Bullshit has been created and I have provided feed back for half of the colleagues that have asked ...

... I am guessing that one of them might have regretted that decision when it comes to having his mid year review. Oh well, if he did fail to provide a deliverable on time* and he did needed to be reminded about it, did he really think that I was going to say that I thought the sun shone out of his arse?

On the work front I have been asked to look after a project whilst a colleague is away on holiday. I have some familiarity with it having done some work on it in the very early stages last year so it is not completely Terra Nova. We have spent a fortune on this piece of work and have still got nowhere near agreeing a contract with the client so the status can be summed up as follows ....

... we are not to spend any more money on this one without the Head Honcho's say so.

* it actually arrived a day after we had presented to the client without explanation or apology for the delay.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Back to work

After the long weekend I am back in the office at home catching up after the frantic running around last week in London. I have plenty to fill the next three days but it is nothing compared to last week. I spent the morning wading through Dante's expenses and personnel systems to ensure that I am appropriately reimbursed for my efforts and expenditure...

... It is time for mid-year assessments and the rest of the week will be spent drafting creative bull shit about my activities for the first half of the year and providing feedback on many colleagues who foolishly see me as a soft touch. To be honest most of them will get the glowing remarks they deserve but there are one or possibly two where they might have thought a little longer before putting me down for performance comments.

The rest of the day involved a walk around the Three Miler and the Gods appeared to smile on me as the rain started when I was only a few minutes from home. I therefore managed to avoid a soaking.

After our first day back at work 30% and I were both unanimous in our decision that today was most definitely not the day to give up drinking.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Picture Post No. 16

The main activity of today was to make a start on sorting out my photographic prints. I have a large wooden trunk of them and I started out with the intention of discarding all the poor shots and just retaining the good stuff ... Fat Chance! The revised plan was to throw out all of the duplicates and attempt to label each print pouch with event and approximate date information.

This plan has worked pretty well and I am now about three quarters of the way to completion and have managed to discard a reasonable amount of rubbish. I quite enjoyed the trip down memory lane and, at some point in the future, I will have another go and get the best shots scanned to the hard disk of the Mac.

I had an attempt today and this is the end result.

This little fellow is Bertie. The snap was taken sometime around 1994 when I lived in Granby in Nottinghamshire.

In the early evening I had to drag myself away from memory lane as we are off out for a meal in Stratford with 30%'s brother and his good lady.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Catching Up - Again!

As predicted, Saturday night was most definitely a "bit of a do". As a result we were all feeling a little bit "tired" on Sunday. The miserable weather didn't particularly encourage us to do anything and consequently the only significant achievements were a trip to the Supermarket and I started a cure of a piece of Belly Pork.

The weather on Monday was  a vast improvement. The rain clouds had cleared and it was definitely a day for getting stuff done. After breakfast I prepared the veg for an enormous batch of Pea & Ham soup and left it simmering while I trundled over to Chippy Ian's to pay my debts and fill up the Defender with diesel.

Back at home we lunched and then TP and I did a reasonable impersonation of Removal Men. The surplus Sofa was removed from the lounge and put in the garage to await collection by the Charity shop. The smaller Sofa was moved from the "to be" Dining Room and positioned to replace the now redundant settee in the Lounge. The huge arm chair was moved from the Dining Room to the Office but that too may be headed to the Charity Shop too as it is way too large. Its only chance of reprieve is if the Dining Room can accommodate it ... I doubt it. The pine trunk was given a long overdue wax polish and was positioned on the Landing and the Dining Room is now starting to look semi-cleared*.

I then nipped out for a walk around the Three Miler with T&M before mowing the lawn. The weather is forecast to be dreadful this week and it looks like today would be my only chance to give it a trim. Once that was done it was time for a long overdue G&T before Bad Man Senior and Step Mum Sue arrived for Dinner.

30% had done us proud with a beautiful leg of lamb and it was great to see SMS in such good form as she has had what must be a very stressful week after the loss of her Father the previous Sunday. BMS was his usual incorrigible self and did much as he pleased including his usual "crime" of feeding all three dogs with scraps from the table. Dad and Sue did not stay late and 30% and I settled down for a little late night television whilst TP disappeared off to the see the Jubilee Beacon and the fireworks. On his return he informed us that he had been selected to carry the torch on the final leg of the Journey up to the top of the hill before handing it to the Beacon Lighter.
* The only problems that the remaining items are those fiddly things that take forever to sort and store. You know what I mean; photographs, CDs, ornaments and treasures. These all need to be found a permanent home or be discarded and that is not a five minute job.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Elephant in the room

I was woken on Saturday morning by the smell of fresh coffee and the chimes from the clock told me that it was somewhere around nine*. 30% had brought me up a cup and I took my time getting out of bed. I can quite honestly say that I have not slept as soundly as I did last night for a very long time.

We had nothing strenuous planned for the day but were out in the evening for dinner with James Bond and Moneypenny. Rosie & Jim would be joining us too so and without doubt it would be a "bit of a do".

The morning saw a trip over to see Pinky and a browse around a carpet shop looking for something suitable for the stairs. The afternoon saw a wander around the Three Miler and a spruce up in preparation for the evening out ...

...and so I turn to the title of today's entry. This weekend is four days in length due to the late Spring Bank Holiday plus the additional Bank Holiday in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Now I am all for the Queen in that the alternatives are too horrific to think about ... A Presidency, for Christ's Sake! Just think about who we might get ... President Blair, Branson or Sugar ... every single one makes me cringe at the thought so I am quite happy with QE2 and, for that matter, any of her offspring sitting up there with a shit load of cash as an hereditary figure head and ensuring that the aforementioned avaricious and rather tawdry figures and their ilk can get no further than the House of Lords at best.

Having said that the Queen figures in my life not a lot more than I figure in hers.** We both tend to go about our respective business with little thought of the other. This leads me on to thoughts of celebrating the Jubilee. To me it is all a little odd as what we appear to be celebrating is the anniversary of someone doing their job. This "someone" is famous but remote and well known for disclosing virtually nothing of their thoughts or opinions. As a result all this flag waving and hoo-ha leaves me rather puzzled. What the hell are we actually celebrating? It seems to be the most ill defined theme for a party ever. The Elephant in the room is a subject that everyone knows about but no-one is willing to discuss. The Jubilee seems to be the "anti-elephant" as every seems to be discussing it but is it really there?

If you think it is please feel free to give me a concise and meaningful definition of the Jubilee element of your celebration.

Here's a final thought; if you had spent the past 60 years in a job how would you feel if the rewards was four full days of "more of the same". If I was Regent I'd tell them to get stuffed and spend the four days sat on the sofa in my pants.
* After 250 years it looses a little time but it is generally "close enough"
** Unless, of course, she is the regular reader in London with a Covent Garden IP address

Friday, 1 June 2012

What a week

It has been a very intense few days. Our Document needed to be completed, reviewed, printed and submitted in an electric and hard copy format to our prospective client by Friday. I think it fair to say that on Tuesday this looked like trying to win the Tour de France on a three year old's tricycle. This is how the week went ...

On Tuesday I hauled my backside out of bed at six in the morning and 30% kindly dropped me at the Station in Evesham to catch the 6.50 in to Paddington. All being well, I should have been in the Office and typing plausible bullshit by half past nine. That was without the superb service provided by The London Underground. A journey that should have taken no more than twenty five minutes took me the best part of ninety and involved a diversion down the Victoria line to Stockwell, two separate trains on the northern Line got me almost back on track at Waterloo where I finally managed to join the Jubilee line for my destination of Southwark.

It is going to be chaos down there when an extra quarter of a million people are trying to use an already at  capacity system in an attempt to reach Olympic venues. I envision a scene like something from a post-apocalyptic movie where hostile, dead eyed natives with strange tribal markings prowl the tunnels feeding on the corpses of naive intruders in to their domain. To be honest its not far from that now.

The working day ran well in to the evening and it was eleven before I was checked in to my hotel and realised that I must change my profile in the travel tool as I was allocated a smoking room. I have smoked in seven or eight years and this was not a welcome end to a long day.

Wednesday started with me reaching the office a little after seven. I spent the entire day formulating client friendly responses about Dante's capabilities. There are a team of four or five of us doing this and each day is the same; we draft for most of the day then we review the latest iteration of the document and then we allocate the next batch of questions to be completed for the following day.

I actually managed to get back to the hotel for a late supper at around ten o'clock but there was a further hour at the keyboard before I crawled in to bed and slept the disturbed sleep of the wired person in a strange bed.

This was "the big one"; our response needed to be delivered to the client by midday on Friday so today we needed to fill in all of the gaps, review as far as was humanly possible and then send it over for final formatting and printing.

Again I was in the office by seven with twice as much to complete today as I had managed yesterday. Breakfast and lunch were purchased from local shops and a pizza appeared on my desk at some point in the early evening. The only other breaks were frequent trips to the coffee machine to keep my frazzled brain functioning. By eleven in the evening I was just about there and my work was fired over to the individual compiling the document. A few last minute hitches and delays meant that it was a little after twelve before we wandered in to a conference room to view the results projected on to a screen.

At this point I should state that this was not as bad as it sounds and I have learnt a huge amount over the past week, not only about how to manage this process but also about Dante's capabilities and how to sell them to a client. I wouldn't mind doing another one of these ...

... not any time soon and definitely with a modified approach to the management of the task.

By now Thursday had become Friday and our night continued scanning page ofter page for obvious errors. We finished at around four in the morning and it was a cab back to the hotel for a couple of hours sleep.

The couple of hours sleep was awful. I was wired and tired and felt like I had the worst case of jet lag. I eventually fell asleep to wake ahead of the alarm at around seven o'clock. I packed and checked out of the hotel bumping in to Victor at the hotel reception.

Fatigue meant that neither of us had any desire for communication and we strap hung in silence as we headed back to the office.

Fortunately our work was done and all we were waiting for was the Publishers to complete the formatting of the document. Once they had finished we sent the file over to the printer to produce the hard copy and loaded an electronic version on to the Client's response dashboard ... by half past ten we were done and I was heading back towards Paddington for a train home.

30% collected me from the station accompanied by T&M and I sat in the back being enthusiastically greeted as only dogs can.

Once home it was back to bed for a an hour's kip in an attempt to feel slightly more human. I'm not sure that it worked but I was so looking forward to climbing back in to my own pit later that evening.