Tuesday, 1 November 2011

... and they're off ! ... well almost.

It's now the start of NaNoWriMo 2011. This means that over the month of November, I will attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel. I entered into this literary race last year, but didn't get to the 50,000 word point because there were lots of other things going on at the time, but principally packing and moving.

One idea that comes to mind, is about taking a picture of something I see or experience in the course of the day, and make the writing that I do center or at least include the thing that I've seen. Clear ?

As crystal. Crystalised coal. An example would be that Saturday, when I went to pick up Chloe, there was a helicopter passing over Southsea. It was trying, I think to maintain a hover in a cross wind, and not really doing a good job of it.

Make sense ? Yah. Thought so.

Today's work was busy, but not as busy as I was expecting. So all good then ? No. I'd gotten up early in order to be able to pop into Tesco on the way to work to get some food for the Halloween buffet, and some decorations. I really don't get into the hyper Americanised theming of what is a pagan festival of the dead, (rather strange considering what a religiously insane country the USA is). My dressing up was limited to wearing all black. I had bought some face paint, but had not been able to get that on as I barely had time to sneeze all day. When I explained it earlier, I used  a different bodily function to sneeze.

So. NaNoWriMo. Yay. All starts tomorrow.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

smile, and the world smiles with you...

Somehow, in the midst of all the stress, hassle and chaos that has been work this week it's actually been a very enjoyable experience.

Something, I think to do with the banter, fun and entertainment provided a good antidote to the burdens of the week. It's been very busy. Energy companies are pretty much the spawn of Satan in the eyes of some in the media. Despite my guys finding somethings tough, with us operating on a reduced number of bums on seats, they are being cheerful and playful about the whole experience.

When I think back to what the team was like, when it was first formed back in November 2010, things were very different. There was a lot more drama, a lot more pouting, shouting and stropping about. The amount of time I would have to spend with certain people, the fact that some people were pretty much escalating to me on a daily basis because they were creating problems being so argumentative with customers. God. How that all seems like such a distant, but painful memory. At the time my boss asked me 'how the fuck do you manage to make yourself come into work every day ?'. I guess maybe because as much as my stubbornness can be a problem, it can also be a strength.

At some point in the next month or so, I will be getting some new team members. These will be fresh newbies that have recently joined and completed their training. I know that this will alter the team dynamic somewhat, but I hope that we don't lose the really intimate and friendly banter we have.

You can really tell if people like each other by how much they take the piss out of one another. And that we all certainly do. A lot.

Friday, 28 October 2011


Let's just see how long I can tolerate making a blog entry from the comfort of my own Kindle. Because dear reader, and I avoid the plural quite rightly, that is indeed what I am trying to do. The first thing I notice is that my blog actually doesn't look too bad in e-nk monochrome. The next thing I pick up on is how annoying it is that the editting window on blogspot doesn't fit on the kindle screen.

Aside from that it is actually a shock at how dependant upon spell checking I am. I am using what is now called 'Kindle with keyboard' and as lomg as I don't try to enter nanowrimo on it, It is a fine little keyboard. The temptation is to use thumbs as if the kindle is some sort of distant relative of the blackberry. Ah I miss my blackberry.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Slap myself around the face

It's becoming quite common, this saying that the week's going rather badly. Well it is. Okay. It's going rather badly. The fallout from the work last week still drags on. The end of the month is nigh, so the inevitable end of month admin work looms like a particularly uninteresting relative that you don't really want to spend time with.

My life is no more remarkable, no less amazing than any other.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Find me somebody to love, find me somebody to love..... somebody... anybody....

The rest of the week hasn't worked out significantly better, but it wasn't any worse. I was about an hour late getting out of the office today (Saturday) because I was helping someone on a call, and that was proving difficult to do.

Sometimes it's really hard, because you know you just want to do your best for someone, and really want to help them out, but they aren't perhaps in a place where they find themselves able to accept your help or your advice.

I guess it's part and parcel of dealing with the public that some people will make a seemingly simple thing that's rather easy to fix very difficult to resolve because they just don't get it. Some people however are determined to never get it. Determined that you are the big evil nasty faceless company that the press have told them you are.

Being told that I sound posh on the phone and that perhaps I should consider going back to school in order to get a more worthwhile job is always a way to make me feel really in tune with someone's emotional state.

To say everyone, would be wrong, but some people feel that their issue, their problem is the worst thing to ever happen to anyone in the existence of the industry. From a logical standpoint, this obviously can't be true, we just don't set new records for shitness on a daily basis. What I find hard to deal with, because it wouldn't be right to actually tell them, is that sadly some people bring this on themselves. We are far from perfect, and are quite ready to hold our hands up and admit when we get things wrong, but if someone is determined to not read the information we send them, warning that we haven't been able to get a true assessment done due to lack of access, or that reducing their payments below the average cost of what they are using then they play a part in digging that hole for themselves.

Unfortunately, those sort of people take a lot of time and effort to convince that they, at the very least had a part to play in why they have a large balance to pay now, and will be adamant that we should have done more. It does mean that there's less time and resources to help those that are in more fundamental need, that have done all they could to try and prepare, and yet just can't make ends meet.

Ironically it's the ones that get offended on the phone on behalf of the 'needy' that you can't please. 'You should do more to help them' they say. 'You should spend time with them, helping them save money' they opine. Well I would, if you'd get off the phone and let me go do that. 

With the help of the beloved media, the 'Great' British public sometimes get themselves in a right tiz by proxy. Not seeing that actually taking up our time to explain to them all the things we do to help people stops us from spending time, er... helping people that they want to 'save'.

You don't go into Tesco and fill the trolley with £80 of shopping, get to the till and then say that you think it should be worth £20, or more accurately, having taken it home, eaten all the food call back a year and a half later and try to say you didn't eat it, and will only now pay a quarter of its value.

I want to cry sometimes at the more elderly customers who are apologetic, think that they should say sorry to us because they can't afford to pay their bills, that no one in their community or in their family (god forbid) has advised that they can get their heating replaced, insulation fitted all at government subsidy, or are entitled to extra benefits.

Sadly it is sometimes the case, that those with the money, are actually the ones most effective at finding ways to not hand it over to anyone else. They are after all the ones with the education, resources and savvy to wriggle their way out of things. I'm not a socialist, but this pisses me off. It's just not right, or fair.

If I could get a pound every time someone said to me 'oh, I don't read my bills, no one does do they ?' (you read this one okay, or you wouldn't be speaking to me now) I could set up a fund to help those that did read their bills, that sit there shivering, unable to sleep in fear that they'll be cut off or have someone knocking at their door. Some people think we have a button under our desk to just cut people off at will. Others seem to think that we have a bath filled with crisp £50 notes at the end of ever desk and go bathe in it at lunch time.

I just want to help people. Is that too much to ask ?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tell Me Why (I Don't Like Mondays)

Annoyingly my day off this week is Tuesday. This means that the rest of the week is longer than the start of it. so I have a long climb down to the weekend arrives, and 5 precious hours of it will be spent at work. Dammit.

Monday was a complete shit of a day. We were very, very busy and somehow this idea of half the managers doing coaching, and the other half dealing with manager calls seemed to work out that I ended up taking 6 escalations myself. Two of which I solved before the day was out, but nonetheless I was sodding well knackered and ready to escape come the end of the day. Had it not been 4 days before payday I would have gladly nipped into the pub for a pint or two.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sundays are such interesting things. I got an invite late last night to have roast dinner at my mum's this evening. If there's one thing I can't turn down, it's the opportunity of a roast dinner I don't have to prepare.

So, after dispatching Chloe (well, I took her home) and bouncing some ideas around with Alec to help with the current series of The 9th Man, I went round my Mum & Dad's.

Really good to see them again, haven't seen them in a week or so (if you don't count me waving out the window to my dad when he is having a smoke in the garden).

Also good to see my Sister, and my nephews. Bless them. When they're not trying to kill each other.

I also received a reply from Helen, to agree to arrange a meet up. We need to meet face to face to sort out our issues. All this sending messages back and forth just isn't working.We need to have 'the talk'.

A good old family weekend, with some creativity mixed in, and the cleaning too. Am I good, or am I good ? No Tardis, no screwdriver, three minutes to spare. Who da Man ? Oh, ok, I'm never saying that again.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Sunny Saturday... ooooh loook. Grass !

After the roller-coaster experiences of the week, I'd been determined to make the most of the weekend and get up really early today. Unfortunately things didn't really work out that way. I'd been not so much fighting, as ignoring the alarm from 7am onwards, to the point that they (the alarms) both gave up, and left me to it. The cats even, were ever hopeful that I would rise and give them some breakfast.

Eventually I got up, but by this point it was 9 o'clock and gone. So after a slow start, I got to cleaning the flat, removing the covering of fur from the carpets, while two innocent looking kittens look on. You'd think they would be afraid of the vacuum cleaner, but they aren't.

The work in the area that used to be the Taylor Wimpey sales office car park has continued this week, and only today, did I see that they have started laying the lawn in that park area. This is great news. Nice bit of greenery right outside the flat. Right inside my wifi range. Guess where I'll be sitting doing some writing on sunny days ?

After cleaning the flat, I got myself cleaned up, and then headed off to collect Chloe. My rush to catch the
bus was such that when I sprinted on-board, and took my seat, turning quickly to sit down, my laptop bag swung round and nearly took the face off the person in the seat behind. Oooops.

So unintended assaulting of bus passengers aside, was actually on time to collect Chloe. In fact, early enough to pop into Palmerston Road and get some cash out. Yay.

Her phone's been incapable of accessing the internet and the Android Marketplace (the app store for Android phones) for a little while, and although this may be a good thing for the rest of us, it's been really annoying and inconvenient for her. Clever Dad, has now fixed this. I am sure thought that at some point in the future I will come to regret this.

My Mum's called me this evening, and invited me to a roast dinner at hers tomorrow. Yum. Roast dinner I don't have to cook. I'm rather liking this weekend. The other thing that's been great about today, is that whilst doing the cleaning, I've got some ideas formed in my head to use for the looming Nanowrimo. Yes, that's right, I'll be spending the month of November writing a 50,000 word novel, and this year I'm determined to have a better go at it than last year.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Out of the depths of despair...

.... you come across some successes, and grab them, as seldom as they may be, with both hands and hang on like hell for dear life.

It's been another tough week, in so many ways. Within an hour of my shift finishing today, I felt pretty much invincible. Not only had I managed to resolve two particularly tricky customer complaints, but I also manage to 'negotiate' the tricky situation that had been brewing all week with Chloe wanting to spend some more money on yet another gadget from ebay.

12 year old ebay addict ? Maybe.

Taking those in reverse order, I'd spoke to Chloe's mother in the week about how we were both worried that she'd yet again wanted to buy something new (a radio controlled hover car). Having sold her old netbook a couple of weeks ago, the proceeds are burning a hole in her pocket. Not unexpectedly, her Mum is urging caution, and saying that she can't spend that money, and needs to set it aside. Chloe, reacting like an apprentice teenager saying that it was 'unfair' and that her mum was being 'out of order' not letting her spend her own money.

Apparently she'd even said that she thought that if she took her mum to court she would win, as it was her own money. Bless her, she is her Father's daughter. Her poor Mother.

In the end, a deflected suggestion that I go halves with her, and let her have the damn thing as an early Christmas present, we eventually stood our ground and agreed that if she really wanted it, should could have it for Christmas, but would not have it early. More decries of 'unfair' and 'out of order' followed, but eventually she succumbed to the reasoning that getting it in two months time is still better than never having it at all.

Happy daughter. Happy ex-wife. Good bit of parenting and standard setting. Joint operation. Job done. (until, of course the next crisis comes up). There had been some drama and crisis at the weekend about how things were going between Chloe and her Grandparents, who live next door to her. She had been rude to them, and used some colourful language. A bit of peacemaking, listening, understanding and then talking with her Mum seems to at least not made things any worse. For my part the explanation that treating her Grandparents, or parents like that isn't acceptable, no matter what she feels they did, and even so, if she wants to get them to change their minds and treat her differently, is shouting and swearing at them the way to do it? She's clever enough to see that it's not.

As shameful, cringeworthy it may be hearing that these things have happened, I'm pretty sure I said some choice things to my relatives over the years, and although I feel like I had more respect for them, I knew where the boundaries were but was resolutely determined to push them, not just a little, but with a full sized jump kick to the head.

Hopefully, whilst maintaining that this behaviour is unacceptable, getting Chloe to see that there are much more effective ways of getting what she wants will be a better way of getting her to chose the right way to be, and to treat people.

As for work. The things that are difficult don't get any easier. After all, I really do think that I would be in the wrong job if I actually enjoyed the things I'm talking about. I am being necessarily vague about some things that I have to do, as this is entirely proper. Some times it is hard to do the right thing. Doing the wrong thing is really, really, easy.

Now, to resolve that broken friendship.....

Monday, 10 October 2011

too tired to write..

A long and arduous week deserves a weekend with excitement, enchantment... and some other stuff that begins with 'E'.

As it happened, it was pretty darn good.

A great day with Chloe, got off to a shaky start, with her mother telling me about how she's been behaving during the week. If she's been that bad, I'm surprised this is the first that I get to hear about it.

I've also been up to Steve's in Locks Heath to do some filming for The Adventures Of Stephen Brown. This was something unexpected (he only asked me on Friday) and rather a good night. Filming from about 6:30 pm until about half ten. Good script, good characters, great times.

I'm back home, and far too knackered to completely blog the events of the day and weekend. So I won't. I'll do it tomorrow instead.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Thank that day's over

I don't know where to start about just how difficult my day has been. I've been close to tears I think for pretty much the whole day, feeling quite overwhelmed.

Sometimes its hard to do right for doing wrong. My day pretty much got off to a crap start when i was told within an hour of getting in that I had a meeting with the site manager about some of my team.

I felt rather taken to task for not seemingly doing enough to make sure people are at work, or that they are able to answer phones. It seemed to be that even though I'd done all the things that I had been advised to do, that wasn't enough. Sometimes I wonder what I would need to do to get a 'well done, that's a good job' reaction from these people. It's like being in a rose bush, manure dropped on me from above, and thorns to the side.

The brown smelly stuff just kept falling. Reports of complaints to investigate, end of month reports to complete. The day couldn't end soon enough. Tomorrow will be better. it WILL be better.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Here's something I wrote earlier...

This is the review I wrote for Beacon of The Adventures Of Stephen Brown, the story was called Inversions...

This month is my first review of the eagerly awaited Specials of 2011 (or were they 2010, I get confused ?). With a reduction in output, greater care has been put into all of the technical aspects of the production, do we prove that less definitely is more ?

The previous season (whichever year it was) ended with a rather confused Lizzy (Sarah Miatt) discovering a gender confused Stephen Brown in the female form of Marie Ridley. This in itself is something that would have been very easy to go down the pantomime route and play to all the obvious jokes about the physical differences, and really construct a farce out of the situation. Thankfully this is not what Simon Doidge had included in his script. There was obviously the odd reference to the er.... chest differences, but the narrative focused on the other issues of the day.

Marie does a great job being thrown into a role that really would be quite tough to know how to play. This is made all the easier by Sarah's presentation of Lizzie's interpretation of events, and some very well set out camera work exploring the tension and confusion between the two.

Really, as I said earlier, this story does very well on the technical front, I can't see a boom in sight, and there's only one place where I think the transition cut in the edit was fluffed up a little (Marie's reference to chocolate milkshake), and where perhaps the sound needed to be better (John's audio matching image & lack of sound effect when Glenda & John disappeared from the antechamber).

Otherwise we can easily believe that buildings on other planets look like 1970s concrete high rises. We can certainly believe the use of sets (Vo's ship, the space fighters), and the CGI space battle scenes really have borrowed somewhat from Battlestar Galactica, but is a choice that works well. It's more than just watchable, it's believable.

The only area I would have to 'mark down' the story is in the story element itself. There's a lot of different things going on in these three episodes, and I struggled to follow at times what they all were, how they were interlinked and why they were important. I can't follow how or why we get Ryan back as Stephen. In previous Beacon work this would have been coupled with an assortment of technical issues that perhaps an audience would not be so forgiving of.

On this story, I think the enjoyability of the 'theatre' and drama of the images we are treated to, and the novelty of seeing Ryan in an RAF uniform (sorry mate, but John Barrowman still does it better) override or at least compensate for the confusions. For me it's the acting performances of Ridley & Miatt with the sets used and the CGI that saves this story. Knowing what happens in the next story doesn't stop me being interested in how this all pans out.... and if you're intrigued too then I suggest you fire up your web browser this minute and find out.... 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

It's October, Damit !

As I last blogged, we've had a couple of days of unseasonably hot, sunny weather. Not that I've had much of a chance to enjoy it, today, being at work. We were due to finish at 6, but with one thing and another, I actually got out of the call centre at 7. What surprised me was that outside it was very dark, like the middle of the night.

It was still rather comfortably warm. Wouldn't have expected that on October 3rd I'd be able to go to work and come home again in T-Shirt and shorts, and not at all be cold.

Really must shift my arse in gear about cleaning the flat. It's a shit tip and I've been a lazy arse.

I've also tried to get people interested in a drama session on Wednesday, but so far only seem to have a couple of people coming. Literally 2.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Here comes the sun...

I write this, sitting outside (on my camping chair) basking in the gorgeous sunshine we are inexplicably blessed with. These things seem all the more special when you consider that it's October 1st today. Yes that's right kids, October 1st. Bloody hell, after all this furore about global warming, and how bad for us it is (going to be), no one stopped to tell us that it might mean I can write outside on a sunny day, in my shorts, IN OCTOBER. OCTOBER !

Did I mention it was October ?

I've gotten up reasonably early today (well, a shave before 9am) grabbed a coffee, after feeding the cats, and taken netbook with me to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine whilst catching up on some script editing and some reviewing for Beacon.

I even decided to risk letting the cats outside. It's so quiet, and there's probably no better time to let them have a sniff around than today.

Too often I lazily trap myself in my flat, in front of the television, or more often, in front of my Mac. Living on my own (sorry Midnight & Twilight, you don't count as people) that leads to a rather insular existence. Lots of moping and self reflection may be good for you, or at least required if you're a teenager, but at my age it's just a bit on the sad side. I don't feel a burning need to be with other people because I can't manage or survive on my own. But I do recognise that I learn the most from other people (usually all the ones I disagree with) and do enjoy the company of others, as long as they are the right people.

The group I work with (my team) at work the 'right kind of people'. Which I don't think is something that neither I or they would have said six months ago. It's been quite the roller coaster this year. I do feel good about the difficult times I've been through, because we (as a team) have all come through them together and that gives us a better understanding of one-another. I'm a great believer in whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. It's as true for immunity to virus and germs as it is to resilience to emotional distress and conflict. Having said that, there is still work to be done. There is more for me to learn (from them) and about how to get along with people better, and achieve more.

Times gone by I think I have been so eager to get a result that I've knocked everyone and everything out of my way in my determination to get there. Unfortunately this always involved knocking over the very people I needed to help me get there.

By far the greatest pride I feel about this year is that one person in my team managed to be successful in getting a job in another area of the business they were really interested in, when they've been overlooked a lot before, two others have been headhunted by other managers to stand in as their deputies, and another has shined so well that I'm convinced pretty soon the same will happen to her.

I'm sure that if you asked any of these four people, six months ago, that they thought they would be in that situation, and how well we'd be getting along, they would have all told you it was impossible and not to be so fucking funny or stupid.

I would have probably said pretty much the same. I've changed, they've changed. We've all grown. I'm sorry this all probably sounds rather mush and twee or terrible Americanised corporate bollocks. But it's true.

Someone who my relationship with has moved in the opposite direction is my friend of nearly 20 years. The person that I've written 4 plays with, countless sketches and created improvised videos for the world to enjoy (or avoid). We've always had diametrically opposing political views, and it's been something we have always been able to work with, ignore and manage. It's actually contributed to some of the balance in our writing. Now we can't seem to see eye to eye on anything. I don't think it's down to the politics. I think it's much more deeply routed than that.

You may recall that we fell out during the production of the last show. It really does seem to have been the death of our friendship. How she was feeling and reacting at the time was due I guess to the severe strain that she was feeling at home. She's had domestic issues for quite some time, in that one of her sons has unfortunately been caught up in the drugs world, and this has also made worse (or been made worse by) his problems interacting with people. He is afflicted sadlywith not being where you would expect a man of his age to be, in terms of social mental development. I am sure there's a medical or psychological name for such a condition, but I'm sorry, it escapes me. She also has, from time to time, problems where her other son gets involved in what could possibly be discribed as the darker element of society, or seems to want to declare war on the drug dealers as a whole for what he perceives as their decision to ruin his brother's life.

All of these pressures take a place in amongst all the others of money and time that an awful lot of people feel at the moment. She also has to deal with suffering from a debilitating condition herself called fibromyalgia. She works from home, as is sadly no longer well for long enough to be in the mainstream workplace. (this wasn't always the case).

We fell out because we disagreed about how to organise some things, or how to make things work within the show. Increasingly her ability to invest productive time and energy to the show became an issue. She became steadily frustrated that I (as she saw it) had taken over and was running things less as a partnership and more as a one man show, with an assistant director / producer. This situation was not due to a lack of effort on her part, merely that she couldn't seem to focus on the things that needed doing.

I steadily began to recognise the symptoms of stress in her, and what certainly looked like her heading toward a breakdown. I could see this, because I have been in that situation before myself, and have been able to move on with my own mental well being (if you like) because I can recognise these traits and take action to deal with things before they get worse. Unfortunately, she wasn't able or willing to agree that this was what was happening, and pretty much saw that I was being mean spirited and making her feel worse.

In the end, I had to manage to juggle not only my day job, and my own outside work pressures (they were nowhere near the sort of thing she was going through of course),  protect her from the harsher elements of what I had been told or observed from members of the cast, and the some of the workload AND protect the show from the more destructive behaviors she was exhibiting. I do think I did a good job of this under the circumstances, because we managed to get to the end of the production with a show that was watchable, and enjoyable (although it could have been 1000 times better had we planned and organised better) and without our friendship exploding right infront of everyone involved.

I don't feel good about having to make decisions to do things without telling or asking her. I didn't like it, but didn't see an alternative at the time that didn't pose a greater threat to the show.

Somewhere along the line we have stopped communicating by telephone. I think this may be attributed to me getting cross with her after repeatedly being unhappy that she'd be on the phone to me for hours on end, when I've just come in from work and hadn't even had a chance to eat and was due back into work in 8 hours. These conversations would always be bad ones, that would make me feel shit, and would ruin my evening, or they would be ones that didn't actually achieve anything other than to moan about how much work there was to do, and how little time we had to do it. My observation at the time that we could achieve more by doing things than by sitting on the phone talking about them seemed to fall on deaf ears.

The paralysis of negativity is something I can see in people that are depressed, and also understand is hard to see past. I also know that the only way to feel good about achieving things is to get them done. You won't get the reward from finishing something if you never even start it.

She has now sent me several either lengthy (2000 word plus) emails or similarly long facebook messages, including one which she sent out to her nearest and dearest friends to 'brief' them on what's been happening in her life. In addition to this, she has now mentioned twice in different messages that she was offended because I haven't commented on her status at all. That I had 'hidden' her.

What's the netiquette about how often you should comment on your friends' status updates ? What if you don't want to, or feel the need to comment ? What if you don't because you're pretty much certain that what you say is going to start an argument ? Her updates are normally very political in nature, and mixed with rather lame personal attacks against those in power, that are usually all in capital letters. She also has the unfortunate habit of copy and pasting just about every pointless internet hoax or chain message that's doing the rounds.

I don't comment, because I think such things are either just rude or stupid, and say lots of things about how gullible and crazy the person repeating them is.

One of her longer messages that was sent out to a 'select' bulk of about 20 friends listed all the things that's been happening to her lately. Truly horrible things. Lots of our mutual friends made impassioned comments in reply to it. Was I wrong not to comment ?

I'm now left with the troubling problem of what to do. I'm not happy to be painted as the villain, but I'm also not happy to be expected to say things that someone likes just because they want to hear it, even if saying it will mean me lying, or being false.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Right ! End of a good week. Sadly marking the last day that my current boss will be with us. Parting is such sorrow. I've really learned a lot in my time working for Heather. She's such a breath of fresh air.

So looking forward to the weekend though, as I haven't seen Chloe for two weeks. To tired to say that much more.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

They were taking the piss... because we bloodywell werent

... This is what greeted me this morning. Boy was I glad that I wasn't on a late night today, as I would have been rather pissed off to have been woken up by the digger working away at 7:30am. At least it meant that I didn't sleep in any longer than I did, which was a good thing, as had I done so, I would have been late for work.

One thing I forgot to mention in last night's blog was that at one point at work we were told that half the toilets in the building were out of order. When an office the size of a large superstore, and with about 2000 people working in it suddenly reduces the available facilities, it does rather have an impact.

We were the furthest away that you could possibly be from the working toilets. Just knowing that the nearest working loo is a good walk away plays on the mind, and makes you aware of the need to use them more. Also meant I wasn't quite so happy to drink as much coffee as I would normally. I don't know if this reaction is typical, but it's how it works for me.

Been another good day today, lots of things done, lots of fun too chatting along with my team. Visit today of the team member I haven't seen for some time went well enough. It's good to see people on the mend after not being themselves for quite a while. It's hard for them if they've off for any real length of time. 

New toy for the cats

I think the cats like their new toy.....

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Another day of progress at work. Many things achieved. Many people helped. Many problems solved. Looking good as the count down to the end of month compliance looms. (Like it does every month).

Haven't seen one of our work family for a while, and they're coming in tomorrow. It'll be nice, as this will mean that they get a chance to get used to being around us again.

Another thing looming is that my boss is moving on to greater things. She is being replaced by someone else, who seems very nice, but I am still more than a little bit sad to see my current boss move on. She's been really good for me in that I've learned lots of things from her about how to survive the at times false and insincere world of call centre politics. She is an inspirational leader who tells it like it is, doesn't put up with bollocks and rewards and appreciates effort.

Up sucking to one side, the cats decided to reward me for running out of cat litter (they did still have litter in their tray, it just needed changing). When I came home, after stopping into Tesco to buy some more, and feeding two hungry kitties I set about clearing out and then cleaning the litter tray. Whilst I was doing this, Twilight decided that rather than wait for me to finish she would squat and pee on the Asda carrier bag in the storage cupboard. Nice.

It's all rock'n'roll here.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Monday Monday... (text version)

Been a good day today. Got an upbeat feeling about this week.

Chloe's back in the UK, the ship she was on docked into Portsmouth this evening. I'm glad to know that she's back in old blighty. I'm just a tad amazed that she didn't manage to start a major international incident, war with France, ejection from the European Union or something...

Her priorities are right on though. She was more worried that she'd missed some youtube videos from Yog's cast. (something to do with that Minecraft game she plays incessantly).

 It's now the second month of life with my HTC Wildfire S. I am still rather impressed with the nifty little thing. I'm getting more used to it, and have managed (as you would have seen) to shoot some video on the go with it, and use that to include into my (v)blog.

I have completely forgotten all the excitement that temporarily besotted me about the prospect of an Iphone (4 or otherwise). They still haven't deigned to announce to the world what the future looks like. Personally I think they like messing with us.

No, not feeling like I missed out Iphone wise. I am, however still longing for the Blackberry. I lament about the battery life of the Wildfire S, and although that's got better since I got the Juice Defender App, it does run low to unusable after a day's work, and that's without me really using it that much throughout the day. It's the lack of the keyboard, and the frequency of updates that I could comfortably get on my Blackberry (without shedding loads of battery life). The decision to not pay for unlimited usage, when I don't need that much has worked out ok, I don't actually use it all. I'm not exactly being frugal with my internet usage on the phone, just careful, and I'm not running out of the 1 GB I got with it (£20 a month). Nowhere near running out of voice or text messages.

Either way, it's not possible for me to change this phone, there's no way in hell I can afford to buy a simfree handset to use with this sim, or to get a different contract just on the whimsey that I have yearnings for the joyous ease of the Blackberry real keyboard. Touch type is all well and good, but it's annoyingly inaccurate. It's that couple of milliseconds slow (not anything like the unusable of the old Windows Mobile in the late 90s. God that was torture) and the faff of typing with my fingers.

Maybe I should file my fingers down, to make them easier to use with my phone ? Sharpen them to a point or something. That'd work, right ?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

my blog is boring

Another one of those lazy weekends. Even more pointless because I didn't see Chloe this weekend, as she's in France with the school. I had meant to get some cleaning, and some creativity done.

Not cleaning creativity, these are two different subjects.

What is it about me not being motivated to do anything outside of work these days ? I haven't been bothered to put the energy into sorting out the direction to take for 'Made In Pompey'. I'm just not getting any enjoyment out of things, but that's mainly because I'm not actually doing anything to enjoy. What a stupid thing to expect reward without effort.

I have however, been blogging more. But what is it that I'm blogging about, if I'm not actually doing anything worth commenting on ? That's gotta be really boring to read.


After all, my blog is so boring, that I don't even get any angry comments. There are plenty of 'haters' on the internet (people that no matter what will say something horrible about anything that's uploaded). If I'm not provoking even hatred in people, what am I good for ?

Saturday, 24 September 2011


A working day, being the end of a rather tough week. In human terms some exceptionally difficult stuff is week, I wouldn't know where to begin, even if I could really talk about it. Suffice to say there are some times when I really don't enjoy being a manager. If I did find enjoyment in the things that have been going on this week, then I would definitely be in the wrong job.

Still. You can't make an omelet.....

This half season thing with Doctor Who means that It's nearly October, and next week we'll be treated to the climactic ending. From the spoilers it looks like next week is really going to be a treat.

I'm going to be typically English now, and talk about the weather. We are rapidly descending towards winter, and I'm looking forward to it. Last night it was most definitely nippy. I felt this quite keenly as I'd been waiting around at Havant train station. As normal I'd gotten out of work late, but went for a swift drink. Feeling I deserved it after the week I've had. Today, was glorious warm sunshine. Perhaps Summer's last parting hurrah ?

I've noticed that all the occasions (as few of them that there are) that I've had an alcoholic drink lately, I've plumped for beer. My god. I'm turning into a man.

Friday, 23 September 2011


At the second attempt (after being screwed over by some arse from Nigeria) Chloe's netbook has sold on ebay. Sadly not in time for her to have part of the money to take with her on her school trip to France. I think I've done a rather good job of packaging it up..... Just need to get myself in gear and post it off on Saturday.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I'm Dan the digger....

Fancy a spot of digging ? My day off lie in didn't get interrupted by the workmen from the site digging up the Taylor Wimpey sales office car park. Their turning it into the park area that it's meant to be. Which is rather nice. I hadn't expected them to be doing this until the site was much nearer to being completed.

I'm sure it'll be really nice, maybe I'll get to sit out there in the 2012 summer sun, nice cold drink, laptop, and all in reach of my wifi signal.

Chloe goes on her school trip to France at the end of the week. It seems quite a frightening prospect, but I have to catch myself and realise it's not like she is camping on the side of a mountain somewhere with her friends, she's going with the school.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Windy walk

Aside from being woken up by two hungry cats, or the noisy antics of two builders outside the window, this morning had something else unplanned about it. That being that I was suddenly motivated whilst walking to catch the 700 at Hilsea, that I should take that, of all opportunities to try and record some video footage with the camera on my phone.

It came out quite well, I thought. The only grumble is how loud the wind noise is, but it was rather windy, so it is to be expected.

The day at work was strange in that there were only 4 members of the team in today. It's hard to inject some energy into such a small group of people, especially when they aren't the lively ones. Lovely as they are.

Still at least I managed to get on the bus going in the right direction tonight. Here's the film that I made on my mobile whilst walking through said wind, to get to work....

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Magical Mystery Tour

Today, work was, well. Rather work like. Apart from the distinct lack of people in (some off sick, some on holiday) it was unusually quiet - at the start at least - for a Monday. It did get busier later on in the day, but that wasn't until after I'd had my bit of mini drama with Mike.

Every now and then his mickey taking crosses the line, and he seems to be fixated on winding me up to the point where he wants to watch me cop. That's normally annoying enough (annoying that a colleague would do that, annoying that I would react that way, that he's able to 'play' me in that manner), but today he did it in front of the rest of the managers in the zone. In the end I got tired of it and asked him to back the hell off. It all sounds a bit vague, and maybe a tad overly dramatic. Behaving like a premenstrual teenager. Not cool.

Not really something I ever claimed to be. Still I managed to get my point across without swearing, or raising my voice. Much.

When I finally got to the end of my day, without any other dramas. I walked to the bus station, knowing that I needed to get home before the man from Asda turned up with my home delivery. So eager was I to catch the bus home when I got to Havant bus station, that I ended up getting on the number 23 that was traveling the wrong way. I realised this as we went past the college and into Leigh Park, and by this point had figured that even if I got off the bus, the next one that was going to be going back the way I wanted, was the one that I was on, when it made the return journey part of it's circuit.

Luckily I had my Kindle with me, so was pretty well occupied during my little trip. It's quite a nice thing to do, be on the bus as it goes round. Maybe I will try it one day, to get away from any distractions. Just sit on the bus and go round and round, doing some writing. After all with my week pass, it wouldn't cost me anything more than I normally would have to pay out anyway. Hmmm...

Chloe had put her netbook up on ebay (well, I had for her), and we'd both gotten excited about someone that had taken the buy-it-now price of £100. Chloe is really eager to get the money so she can spend some of it when she goes to France at the end of the week. I had a suspicion that something didn't quite ring true, when they contacted me by email. Initially giving a UK address for shipping, but then, when they said they'd completed payment (which they hadn't) they then supplied a Nigerian address.

About as Kosher as a bacon sandwich.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

I am still here...

I've got so many ways of getting my opinions 'out there' that I actually don't bother using them.

So, after a gap of 3 months, here I am, September 18th, in bed, sat at my netbook whilst half watching 'He's Just Not That Into You'. Drinking a cup of hot chocolate.

Anyone in the know, may have been reading the blog, and wondering if I'd actually made it to my 39th birthday. I did, and as I am sat here typing this somewhat meandering entry, have made it way past that point.

So many things have happened, all things that you can (if you are at all bothered) catchup with from my vlog.

I don't really do this because I kid myself that other people are remotely interested in what I have to say. I do this for entirely selfish reasons. It's the only time I can get my point across without someone trying to argue with me. 

As it is now three months since I enthusiastically decided to document each day counting down to my 40th birthday (and over nine months since I gave myself the new years' resolution of blogging daily). Time to catch myself up, decide if the targets or goals that I set for myself this year are really ones that I want to achieve, and if so, make sure that they do come true.

Last year turned out to be all about buying the flat. It wasn't until June time that this became apparent. There was a part of me that felt the need to find someone to spend time with, in my new home. I make it sound so clinical.

Have I changed any of my habits ? Have I done anything different ? So why am I expecting to get a different result ? I'm always telling the guys (in my team) at work that if they want different outcomes (in their performance) then they must do something different. As I believe Einstein said 'only a fool does the same thing and expects a different result'.

Just don't do this consistency thing very well. The bit where something becomes routine. Normal. Mundane.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

T minus 1

Being the last day of my 38th year, I decided to record a little video. Not really a lot to it, but anyhow... the video goes like this :-

I've been for a nice dinner at my Mum & Dad's tonight. It's not even actually my birthday yet, and I already have two great gifts. (The office tidy set from my daughter, and the money from my parents). I sense some clothes shopping is in order.

Poker face

Been so long since the last post, but what can I fill this one with that isn't pages and pages of anger and frustration ?

I know, let's fill it with love and understanding and.....

Ah bollocks to that !

This week has been hard. Looking back on last week's blog, I can see that this is becoming a regular thing, something that I am steadily accepting, and rather apathetically shrugging my shoulders and carrying on. With a tough, hard fought week at work where everything went mental (one of our competitors announced that they would be increasing their prices and it seemed that everyone in the world wanted to speak to us). On the good side, we have two new guys in our team who seem to be getting along really well, but have had great success to show some of the more established hands that you can do things if you put your mind to it. Progress with a couple of the team who have perhaps struggled to take charge of things, and seeing them realise that they can have an effect on their results if they chose to approach it in the right manner. Great to see, one in particular pretty much shining all week with a brilliant 'I am going to get this done and nothing's going to stop me' focus.

It has been non stop though, hard work. Really seeing the fruits of their hard labour. Feeling exhausted by the week, but elated with how things ended up.

It has been the usually roller coaster ride though of the highs and lows of elation and near depression. The yo-yo ride of emotion inside work has not at all coincided with the operation of the same ride outside of work. Elation at finally submitting the poster design to the printers, and getting some publicity material 'out there' has helped start off the week, but Monday's rehearsal left me feeling rather flat and with the desire to run away as fast as my legs could carry me. Wednesday, on the other hand, we focussed on going over and over a couple of the really intense scenes in the show. These are the ones with lots of things going on at the same time (our trademark chaos), and are hard to plan and direct. Even harder to execute with people still holding on to scripts for dear life.

With some gentle encouragement, they were able to drop their scripts (for the most part) and we got through three different scenes, with great progress being made in the timing and performance of all concerned. No easy feat, but was helped certainly with everyone actually dropping those pesky scripts and with all the cast actually being there, which must be about the first time that has happened.

Still only three weeks to go before the show. There is now a crowd from work going along, it will be great to have that support.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Guess what ?

Another flipping flat tyre !!! Seriously. What ?

Interesting couple of days. Work has been quite far from easy. At some point the reality that we are not doing as well as we think we are, and that action needs to be taken to correct that. Some people are not, I think being honest with themselves about how good they are. Others are overlooking how good they are, which is a damn shame.

Air conditioning not working on Saturday, which was a swelteringly hot day anyway, without having to spend 5 hours inside a baking hot call centre. Normally this wouldn't have been something that really bothered me (apart from the discomfort, and the smell - only kidding - there wasn't a smell) if it hadn't been for the fact that I was meeting up with a nice young lady after work, and hadn't really wanted the first time she met me for me to be this scruffy, sweaty dishevelled bloke getting off the bus.

We met up, as planned, after I had stopped into Tesco to get some food. (Cooked chicken and some salad). Met her at the bus stop and walked her round to mine, so that she could meet the kittens. Yup, that's right, so pathetic am I that I used my kittens as part of my chat-up routine. (yeah right, anyone that knows me, would really find the idea that I even indulged in chatting people up, let a lone that I had some sort of routine to follow hilarious. Routine. No. Spreadsheet - maybe).

She is a very nice girl, and it's amazing that even in this day and age when you get to know all sorts of things about people from the internet, from looking at facebook (oh common, you'd have a peek, wouldn't you ?), and that you get to see various images of them before meeting them for real, that they still look different and aren't entirely how you imagined them.

My imagination could never have envisioned how gorgeous she is, nor could I have realised what sort of a person she is, or the things that she's been through. Makes me think perhaps I should shut the fuck up moaning about my life. Like the saying goes, there's always someone worse off than you.

How do these sort of things work ? I've never known how to interact with people at the best of times, let a lone beautiful women, who probably think 'god what a plonker'. I think the standard advise, is 'be yourself', be 'cool'. Cool ? I've never been cool. Bow Ties are more cool than I am. Fezzes are more cool than I am. I am most definitely a mad man with a box.

The situation that I wrote about the other week, between myself and my creative partner, Helen is not going away. I received a rather long email from her last night, which I have had to stop myself from responding to. I can say how I feel, but I don't feel that I can without hurting my friend. I am also feeling frustrated that we seem to have covered the same ground, again and again, and my point of view doesn't seem to be sinking in.  I feel at the moment, sadly that the very best we can hope for is that we can get this show produced and finished with without irrevocably damaging our friendship. I don't bare grudges, it actually takes a lot to really piss me off, but I can be belligerent and judgemental. I do like to know that I am right (but this only gives me any comfort whatsoever if I actually am right).

What's a guy to do ? I'd like an easy, relaxing hassle free part to my life, please. I guess that's not going to happen any time soon, now. Is it ?

Oh yes, did I not mention. Another flat flipping tyre, now repaired, I can only hope that it stays repaired.

Friday, 3 June 2011

... and where was it you spent your Wednesday evening Simon ?

In the toilet.

With some friends.

I think I'd better explain. Quickly.

Upon hearing that we would be 4 people short for Wednesday's rehearsal we struck upon an ingenious plan. (Okay, so maybe I'm only saying it's ingenious because it was my idea). Having already noticed that we were struggling to arrange for people to be together to do the filmed pieces for the show, we decided that we would film some of them with the people that were able to attend that session.

This meant that the 'Dumping Ground' scenes. So, in rather a rush, and nothing less than an absolute hurry, we did indeed mange to film four segments.

This only leaves us with two to do from the toilets. The rest of the filmed spots will need to be shot in my flat. We didn't finish till very late, but it was well worth it. While all this was going on, Helen was busy going over a couple of scenes with some of the rest of the cast.

Both Helen and I are getting really worried about the amount of lines that people have actually learned. The play really does need people to be natural as possible, and they sure can't do that whilst holding the heavy tome that is the script.

Another thing that had been worrying us (along with all the other things to think about regarding the show) is that we don't have a poster.

Well not anymore. Lin's friend, Mo Welch, who has done a brilliant poster for us emailed it across to me today, and I then spent the afternoon messing around in iphoto to get the other information onto the picture.

Helen and I are very pleased with the result.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Deflated. Mk II

After fixing my bike on Wednesday, and consequently cycling to work each day, (well, ok, most days) I managed to pick up another flat. More precisely it could be described as the son of the previous flat tyre - The one that was caused the day I stopped off to put out a small fire on my way home from work.

This week's puncture was in fact caused by the piece of metal that I was left in my tyre from that incident. Despite checking the tyre over before fitting the replacement inner tube (I keep a spare to make it a bit easier to fix them) I now have had two inner tubes with punctures in exactly the same places. I will probably have to replace the tyre soon as well. Was a sizeable bit of shrapnel in there. Nowhere near as disastrous as the effect of a piece of metal piercing a tyre did on the Concord taking off in France in 2000 (the plane crashed, 113 people lost their lives), so perhaps I shouldn't complain so much.

I've had a mixture of laziness, followed by drunkenness interspersed with some creative activity and more than a little cleaning over the bank holiday weekend. Completed a review for Venturer Magazine again, this time reviewing the second story that I wrote for them. I have very painful memories of it because when it was shown to the rest of the company it was nowhere near finished. It was in such a state that it made it impossible for anyone to follow the storyline, and it was meant to be really important as it marked the departure from the show of one of its main characters.

It's hard to be objective about your own work, I know there were failings in the script, but a bucket load of whole fresh ones were created by the presentation of the story, with the usual challenges around direction and acting. I know it's amateur, but I still would want the story to be just that, something that tells the story. All the technology and the pretence and performance, if done right, should be invisible. The suspension of disbelief.

I was invited to meet up with some of my colleagues from work at a pub last night. I sidestepped my initial negative response and made the effort to go. I did indeed drink away quite merrily and got a little bit drunk, which was a nice change. Good to let my hair down, what there is left of it.

Despite not seeing my daughter, she has sent me regular email updates and text messages. I really do appreciate it, as otherwise I would really feel the emptiness of not being able to see her until next weekend. I'm glad that she gets to go away on holiday, but it doesn't mean I don't miss her when she's gone.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

deflated / re-inflated

Another attempt to get an early foothold on the work of the day. Another failure to quite manage that. Having spent the day working away solidly spending some quality time with the team the afternoon made the morning look positively organised.

Ever get the feeling that if you were trying to tread water the sharks would be circling and licking their lips ? (do sharks even have tongues ?)

Anyway. Stayed late from work, missing completely the chance to get to drama (it was just as well that Helen and I had planned for the eventuality that I may be at best very late tonight). When I had eventually managed to leave, the cycle home wasn't exactly without incident either. As I passed through the railway triangle (place at the top of Portsmouth where the east and west train lines join to head south into the city), I noticed some smoke, and realised that some little darlings had set light to some rubbish left on an embankment. Borrowing a bucket and some water from a nearby house I easily managed to dowse the flames of the small fire that had been started. Would have felt rather stupid calling out the fire brigade, but equally I couldn't have left it.

To prove that no good deed goes unpunished, I got back onto my bike to find that I now had a flat front tyre. At least I wasn't that far from home by that point, so it wasn't too much trouble to wheel my bike the rest of the way, where I promptly fed the cats and then replaced the inner tube so that I could be sure to be able to cycle in to work again tomorrow.

It's near the end of the week. This weekend being a longer affair owing to the bank holiday monday at the other end of it. I don't want to sound like I am kicking a gift horse in the mouth, but I had just got used to the normal run of things !

I'm really only bitching because we'll have this lovely long weekend and I won't get to see my daughter because she's going away on holiday for the week.

Taking the cats to the vets for their followup jabs on Friday. They do seem to be growing so fast. After that's done they would be allowed outside, if I decide to do that. I think they have already made their feelings plane on that front having made a break for it the other week.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Plummeting towards Bank Holiday..

There's nothing we can do, the world hasn't ended, the Tiger wasn't real.... we're plummeting at warp factor 12 towards a long weekend. The last bank holiday weekend we get until August in fact. Will it shine ? Will it rain ? Either way it's going to mean three whole days off work. Whoop Whoop.

It does of course also mean that we are another week closer to show week. Arrrggghhh !!!

Helen and I had made some alterations to the script, which we communicated to the cast on Monday. I think this was a bit worrying for some of them, who aren't used to dealing with scripts as a rather fluid thing. On one hand it's a bless, but on the other it is indeed a curse. There was only person so far that did not need their script in the scene that we did. I am getting rather worried that more people haven't yet dropped their scripts. We are, after all, only four weeks away from the show week. There are still people missing sessions, no progress with dropping scripts, no sold tickets. Worried ? I don't think worried is the right word.

(slams door and runs screaming to the hills)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Leopard escapes...

not the actual leopard that caused the  furore.
This one available from jollydollies.co.uk
A major alert was started near Southampton (a city near me) when a member of the public warned police that they had seen what they thought was an escaped leopard whilst they were watching a cricket match through the zoom lens of their camera.

After a temporary halt to the cricket match at Southampton's Rose Bowl, thermal imaging scans from a police helicopter and the work of brave officers on the ground discovered that the 'animal' in question was in fact a life sized stuffed toy. Plans were put into place to enlist the help of zoologists from local Marwell Zoo, and to close the nearby M27 motorway.

Earlier in the week, there was an escape of the feline variety. Midnight & Twilight managed to get out when I had left the front door open whilst rooting around upstairs for an attachment I needed to use to pump the tyres on my bike back up. I'd left the inner door open at the top of the stairs without realising. The first that I had heard about this was when I went downstairs to greet my sister and my nephews (who she had just picked up from school), and instead came across my beloved kittens running towards me up the path to my front door. Quickly I grabbed them and secured them upstairs. Needless to say until I they have had their booster shot they are not meant to go outside. I haven't even been able to get them to keep on their collars, they are too big (the collars are), both kittens are growing really quickly so it won't be long before they can keep them on, or should that be 'before they can't get them off' ? The follow up shot is due the end of this coming week, so they are getting closer to being able to have that freedom.

It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

Jan Luyken's picture of 'The Rapture'
According to some crackpot American religious nutter, the world was due to end yesterday at 6pm.

The fact that I am writing this, and you are around to read it (assuming there are some people that actually do read my blog) seems to indicate that they, like all the other doom merchants before them got it spectacularly wrong.

Apparently all the deserving Christians were going to Heaven for 6 months, but the rest of us get to suffer in hell on Earth for that time before the world is completely destroyed.

Just to make the whole thing easier to understand they (the group spreading all this about) had arranged for their website to give regular automated updates for those left behind on Earth. So the world's going to end, we're all going to die... but DON'T PANIC ! We'll still have internet ! That's okay then. For a minute there I was thinking that I'd actually have to talk to real people or something.

What are all those sheep who sold their possessions, gave up their jobs etc to prepare for the 'end of days' going to do now ? Get a job stacking shelves in a walmart or something ? How gutted would they be if they'd cancelled their life insurance and then had an accident at 6:05 ? Ooops.

Statistically though, if you keep saying every day that it is the end of the world, eventually you're going to be right.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

What is this fog that has dominated the early part of my week ? This feeling of unease and upset with one of my longest and dearest friends.

I posted the other day about how Monday's rehearsal had gone, and how I had become annoyed at how things were going, how disrupted they had become.

When was it that I became so self centred and immovable, so blinkered and bloody minded ? Perhaps I have always been those things, some of them, or all of them I'm not sure. I've always had strong opinions and been singleminded, but this breakdown in communication between Helen and I is really hurting. My instinctive reaction seems to have been to be annoyed at her, and to not want to talk to her.

It's fair to say that I'm not really seeing much enjoyment in the production process for the show at this point. The last two rehearsals pretty much felt like a waste of time and an abject failure. With the opening of she show looming ever larger on the horizon, I feel very keenly that no one in the cast as dropped their scripts yet, we have not yet finished blocking out any of the scenes - and although we will do this in the next week, I am uneasy. The show is very visual, and very complicated, (it's the rod we have most definitely made for our own backs) and it will only come together when people have stopped having to carry around their scripts in rehearsals and when we have everyone in every rehearsal. 

My feels have been such that with the chaos, and probably fair to describe as anger about Monday, I have shut myself away. I really needed to close off the show part of my life whilst not actively preparing for a rehearsal as I just need to limit its effect on the rest of my life. It sounds rather selfish, but I've come to learn over the years when I am overwhelmed by events, and when I am feeling that I need to take a step back. 

You might say that's great for me, but really great for my partner in the is enterprise, Helen. There is a point, when with no intended disregard for her feelings, I have to say 'stop !'. I do not need emails, texts and voicemails telling me to contact people as soon as I can, to discuss something that is not urgent. If the theatre isn't burning down, (and even if that happens, there's nothing I'm going to be able to do about it) there just isn't anything to do with the show that's urgent enough to warrant such a dramatic badgering. 

I try, but don't very well succeed to segment the different areas of my life. When I fail more to do that, I do feel compromised. Not from a secrecy point of view, but the situations that occur where I might have a disagreement with someone in one area of my life, but if I am close to them in another part of my life, that tension translates to another entire area, and gives me no peace or rest from it. 

I am getting alerted to this kneed jerk reaction to shut people out, to close off the communication, to not go to things. It could very easily lead to me becoming increasingly isolated and alone. These are not reactions I am used to observing in myself. The amateur psychologist within warns me further that this sounds very similar to the behaviour of someone descending (for want of a better word). If I 'back off' from involvement in creative activities (either with M27 or with Beacon) then what would I do with the rest of my time, and would that be something that made me feel better, or worse ? I think worse. 

Helen and I have had a rather long, deep and emotional conversation, where we exchanged how it was that we are feeling. I can't say I got my point across in the best way I possibly could, which in itself leaves me feeling rather hollow. There was no 'battle' to win, but it most definitely feels that both of us have lost out of this situation. Helen repeatedly commenting that she feels we may both have changed so much in the last 5 years that it would not be possible for us to work together in this way in the future. By which she means we could never write and direct a show together again. I would agree, that we cannot work together again in THIS way, because the chaos and lack of organisation, and the fact that so much time has been wasted (when I think about how much time was wasted in the actual writing of the show - we started writing it in August, or September last year for crying out loud !). I can't work like that anymore, and I don't know if it was that these complications didn't occur before, or if they did, but it didn't matter. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

ok, so I've blatantly been reading the news....


Botox. It's a toxin people !
This one is certainly more serious, but I also read this article on the internet on the BBC news site (other news websites are available). Some 8 year old child has been taken into care by the local authorities in America (could only happen there - we hope) because her mother has been injecting her with Botox.

I don't know whether to cry or shout at my computer when I read this article. This poor kid. The quotes from the Mother make me really, really sad. What sort of person not only allows her child to do such a thing, but actually administers them herself ? It's one thing to 'harmlessly' mutilate your child with tacky earrings, but this is irreversible and dangerous.

The mother, who is a part time beautician, wouldn't reveal where it was that she got the drug from. Hmmm. Does that mean it wasn't legally obtained ? What was she thinking ? Oh, hang on, we get an idea with quotes like  "It's a tough world in the pageant and the kids are harsh. Being confident is something she has to be with them." Er.. but isn't being confident by changing your appearance just some shallow method of tricking yourself that you'll feel better ? And isn't it your job as a parent to teach her to accept herself for who she is ? Oh, it makes me so cross. Maybe not entering her into petty pageants would be a start. 

No dish. No Glee ?

What !!!! It cannot be allowed to happen !!!

sad about Glee leaving free TV.
Even sadder to see I look like a freaking turtle
According to this disastrous news from the  BBC news website, Glee is to leave E4 as the channel was outbid by those dastardly bleeps at Sky TV with deeper pockets. NOOOO !!!!!

How will I get over really tough days / weeks without being able to resort to watching an episode of my favourite TV show that has glitter and jazz hands included ? Fine, back to alcohol it is then.

No seriously. Seems that Sky were able to stump up double what E4 were able / willing to pay.....

Boo hiss. Sad face.

Grumpy old man

Am I getting less patient as I grow older ? Less understanding of others ? Less accommodating of the downright stupidity of other people ?

I wonder this, because I feel myself getting steadily more impatient and cross with Helen, my long term friend and cowriter, coproducer, codirector for The FatCat And The Grafter. I don't want to launch into a major whinge, but think that after that sentence I had better explain myself.

On Monday's rehearsal, which I have already documented as being the hardest session so far, there were some elements that made it harder to make progress. Helen had changed some of the lines in the scene, and made some other alterations, which she had not gone through with me before I started directing the scene with the cast, she also wanted to put in some suggestions about things that her character could be doing in order for her to get to be doing what she felt the character should be doing. Again these things were not explored in detail before the session, so when mentioned required that I had to then work round or ignore them in order to direct the scene the way that I had planned it. Interruptions and delays were caused by the sometimes attention grabbing silliness she employs whenever she feels embarrassed about something. The thing that I was embarrassed about was that the scene wasn't working, and it wasn't made to work any more, or look any better with interruptions of messing about from my co-director.

We had agreed a couple of weeks ago that as we were directing most of the scenes separately, that if we wanted to make any suggestions to scenes the other was doing that we do it after the session, so that the discussion would not hold up the rehearsal or make us look like we didn't know what we were doing.

I don't want this to come across in the wrong way, it's not about Helen, bless her, it's about interruptions themselves. I feel like I spend a part of my working week trying desperately not to tell people to stop being such twats. Polishing a turd doesn't even come close. I'm not angry though. As much as sometimes the odd thing will slip out, I am amazed at how tactful I can be. Sometimes it's like it's not me at all.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Things can only get better ?

After a weekend that was all too short, back to work, and back then afterward to rehearsals. Nice enough, but I think from having planned the blocking of this scene that I have realised somewhat that this scene could easily be removed from the show and no one would miss it at all.

My inner editor tells me that I should get out my filthy big red pen (metaphorically, as I don't actually own a red pen, big, filthy or otherwise) and strike if from the play. Helen wants to err on the side of caution and leave it in until we do a paced run through the second act, so we can see how it falls into place with the rest of the show.

I don't remember this shared directing lark being such a test either. Normally things go perfectly well, but tonight things kept going off track, the scene was complicated enough, but Helen did keep wanting to descend the scene into farce, and needed reigning in. I worry that some of the patience, faith and trust that the cast have in us may not be entirely limitless.

Helen pointed out today that we really need to pull our finger out with organising the show. We have not sold a single ticket yet. hopefully all this will change once we have the poster, and we can start advertising properly.


Monday, 16 May 2011

Tyred.. but ready for another week

Tyred.. did you see what I did there ? Ho. Hum. Sorry.

Yes, amongst the things that I got whilst out on my exciting shopping trip yesterday was some replacement inner tubes for my bike. With the desire to save money (the weekly buss tickets cost me nearly £70 a month) and an urge to be more physically fit, AND get home from drama a bit quicker I have decided that I need to fix my bike and 'get back on the road'.

Although I've put to the back of the list of things to do this weekend the actual repairing phase of this grand plan, I am sure that by the end of the week I will have the old girl working again. I'm day off on Wednesday so I will have a chance to fix the tyres whilst I wait in all day for the man from UPS to come pick up my old busted kindle.

I am still over the moon to not be without one, thanks to those lovely folks at Amazon.

Moved the cat tree into the living room, as it gives them a much better view of what's going on. Managed to move it without disturbing Midnight, who was resting on it at the time. This does seem to be a hit with the cats as they do indeed like to laze on the top most part of the cat tree and watch whatever is going on around them.

Yes, that is Midnight on the left there, precariously balancing on the top perch, trying to share it with his sister. Looks damn uncomfortable if you ask me, not the Twilight seems to notice.

The other brilliant news this weekend was the revelation that my daughter wants to go on a school trip to France later in the year. Somehow having to find the money for that, on top of all the other things just makes me smile. It shouldn't really. I am glad though that she wants to go, sounds like it will be a great thing for her to do. I think they will be staying in Normandy for 4 days. She didn't seem to make the connection when I reminded her of our trip to Hastings a couple of years ago, where we did go the Battle (the place where the Battle of Hastings took place) and walked round the very field and looked round the abey.

Oh dear, history education just not what it used to be I guess. More than likely, it would be the case that like myself I didn't really take an interest in history until people stopped trying to tell me about it.