Monday, 31 January 2011

Monday, Monday

.... so good to me.....

Really ?

It's good to share, everyone wants to share. BUT NOT THE GERMS GUYS. Jeeeez.

Everybody seems to either getting or got themselves some lurgies. I've felt crap today, finding it hard to concentrate and having hot flushes. Not felt myself at all.

Who then, have I been feeling ?

I was meant to have an evening with company tonight. With feeling under the weather and making myself sick with worry and nervousness, I cancelled. What the hell is wrong with me ? Someone nice shows half an interest with me, and I want to run away and hide just so I don't have to deal with grown up things.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

It was a week-end, but then again it wasn't all that strong a start.

The week that has now passed, has not exactly been easy - when the hell are they ? It has been full of many experiences. Not all of them good, All of them, though taught me something. Every event, every relationship, a learning curve.

I have discovered that I am a fuck load more patient than I thought. I am not sure where this has come from, but there it is. This new realised patience is not without its limitations, and they were reached this week. As examples of exhausted patience go, the events of the week were not a patch on how I have 'cracked' in the past. Maybe, just maybe, I'm learning. Mellowing with age.

Like a good cheese, or a fine wine.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Reality check for the deluded

Ok. So Monday sees the end of January. Where the hell did that month go ? What has it brought ? Just exactly what is it that I have achieved ?

I have not pushed myself enough, I have used Christmas, and the move as excuses that wrote off the end of November and December, but what reasons do I have for the lack of progress in January ?

I have none. I have gotten lazy.

I have, though, managed to write into my blog (nearly) every day. I couldn't say that it's all 'high brow' quality stuff. Perhaps the opposite is true. Who do I do this for ?

I still haven't contacted Steve, which is just stupid. He probably thinks by now that I've walked away from Beacon.

What is it that defines success ? You try one more time than you fail.

Just the one Mrs Wembley ?

I learned somethings today that give me pause for thought, but also encouragement that I am, at least on the right track.

The day just seems to have slipped away from me, and I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time focused on one individual, which I don't mind. If it generates results. I also worry for those that, as a result of this, that I cannot spend as much time with.

Can you really be all of the things, to all of the people, all of the time ?

A survey from the National Office Of Statistics has arrived at the conclusion that in 2009, people who were managers drunk much more alcohol than those that were from more 'shop floor' careers. Weekly consumption of 13.5 units per week for the managers, and 10.7 for the manual workers. It's hardly surprising, is it ? Have you seen the cost of booze these days ?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Who watches the watchers ?

Today being my day off, I have been waiting for the man from Taylor Wimpey to come round and fix some things for me. He did eventually turn up, and get someone working on some of the issues reported at the last visit he had just after I moved in.

He did reveal that the cupboard that goes under my work top, where the great big gap is that was left for a dishwasher, even though I had stipulated that I don't have, and would never have one, so didn't need the space, was on site and just needed to be fitted. He said that it had been here for some time, but had been put to one side and forgotten about. Which he apologised for. I'd rather they hadn't forgotten about it, but I haven't exactly been put to any inconvenience because of it, and it was good of him to be so honest about it. I can't stand bullshit.

The painter came over not long after, as agreed, and started work on the walls in the hall and stairs, which has some bits that were missed, or marked. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Dave, as I call him, because that is his name, is also going to get someone to have a look at the drain-away for the shower in the en-suite, as it is not clearing as quickly as the shower kicks out the water. This means that if you have a shower longer than about 8 minutes, you end up with a little foot bath, where you didn't intend to have one. If the shower is for some reason very long, there is a danger that the water going in to the shower tray is not running away, and it could overflow onto the floor.

Dartmouth Steam Railway
Later on in the day, I managed to arrange with work, and with Helen (she works from home as a travel agent, so if you ever need a holiday booking... get her to do it for you... - link is her business email). Chloe and I are back off to sunny Paignton in August.

We had such a great time there last year, Chloe absolutely loved the idea of going back there again. There really is so much to do, and we only touched the surface of all the places to go, despite getting to something every day. Beautiful part of the world. If you haven't been, you really should. Tell them that Simon sent you. They'll wonder what the hell you are on about, but tell them anyway.

By the time Helen arrived at mine, excelling herself at being 3 hours late, I remembered that I needed to buy some more bread. So off to the shops we trekked. I am, despite the higher prices becoming fond of our local McColls. It's literally just down the road, and they are open all sorts of ungodly hours. What makes it such a great place to shop though, is the people that work there are so nice and friendly. I know it's a stereotype, but when I go in there, I know I'm speaking to a human being, a person, instead of some dead from the neck up corporate drone like you get in Tesco.

Anyhoo. I digress. On the way back from the shop, Helen and I were surprised to notice that one of the houses we passed, has a multitude of CCTV cameras on it (I counted 6). This did seem a little excessive. I have seen houses with the odd CCTV camera on them before, and I know that the United Kingdom is the country with the most number of CCTV cameras per head of population, but this really is taking the biscuit. Isn't it ?

The warning signs, numerous cameras and razor wire on the tops of the walls really does create this 'fortress Cosham' look. On one hand, it makes me wonder what sort of paranoid person would chose to daub their home in all this crap. On the other, I start to wonder what's in there that warrants all this security. Does the rather visible security entice the interest of the 'problem solving' thief who sees a gauntlet being raised, inviting them to overcome such systems. No system is fool proof, no system is impossible to break. If it can be made to work, it can be broken.

Whilst we remarked how astounding this was, and found great comedic value in such a setup, and what sort of person must be living on the other side of the barbed wire, in fortress Cosham, we had entirely failed to notice that we were being followed.

It was when we got to my front door, still laughing and joking about 'what sort of idiot would put that many cameras up' that the owner of the house in question caught up with us. When he did, he asked me why I was taking pictures of his security camera, to which I responded with the question of why he was taking footage of the street.

To his credit, he then recanted the story of how many times he had been burgled recently and how much loss he and his wife had suffered as a result. As ever with these things, it is the emotional scars, the fear, and the lost items that hold sentimental value. All of this I get. My parents were burgled last year. It was one of the motivating reasons for them moving. Naturally he's worried about his wife, and his 80 year old parents, who also live with them. I can understand all of that, but I'm not sure that I would want to create a prison for myself to live in. As much as such things keep people out, they also keep you in. Held captive in your own mind by the time and attention all of that must maintain focussing on the fear. Not good.

I can't say that I'm all that happy with the idea of anyone, being able to record footage of people walking down the street. Constant surveilance is something that imposes on the freedoms of those it observes. What right does any of us have to assume ownership in that way of a public space ? If you are on private property, and the owner wants CCTV, and warns you of that, then you make the decision to either accept it, or not go to that place. When the place where the cameras are erected means that they are recording footage of a public place, that's just down the road from a school, where your only choice to not get filmed is to not walk down that street... That's not right. It's a public road and pavement. I absolutely agree with his right to protect his property, and to do what he likes on his own land, that doesn't effect the enjoyment of others. But this ? A step too far ?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

It's enough to make you cross

After a long, too long, day at work, I finally made it home, hoping for some release in the form of (pardon the pun) gay abandon with the latest episode of Glee.

Sadly, I was to be disappointed. This week's episode (courtesy of my BT Vision digital recording) was not the irresistible foot tapping, jump up, dance around the front room and sing your heart out event that I was counting on.

This week's episode, as ever was full of the beautiful people. What it was also filled with was the American fascination with religion, and Christianity in particular. After his gay son turned down his invitation to a regular family meal, Kurt's dad suffered a heart attack. Kurt then not only had to face the guilt and sorrow of dealing with these events, emotional as they are, he also had to deal with the rest of his 'Glee Club' members doing the heavy push of their religion in his direction.

Apart from the whole shallowness of 'lets make the gay guy hate god, because god hates gays', we also explored Sue Sylvester's rejection of god due to the pain and injustice of her older sister being a downs syndrome sufferer. Despite some very strong, and determined resistance to the 'wave of Christianity' that was a rising tide of pressure being applied in his direction, Kurt  in the end relented, as is to be expected by an American TV show. I feel a bit let down. Well, okay, more than a bit.

If Glee's purpose was to seriously discuss in depth and complicated issues, it doesn't seem to be well equipped to do so, what with the show being populated by more than a handful of two dimensional characters that are, immensely lovable, but entirely shallow and stereotypical.

It's just not what I rely on Glee to do for me. It's not the place I expect it to fill in my life.

In the end, as is to be expected, both Sylvester and Kurt have something of a 'coming to terms' with god arrangement. In Kurt's case, is it not that he's simply worn down by the relentless nagging and evangelizing by his friends ?

Don't get me wrong. I love Glee, it makes me laugh, it makes me smile, the actors/actresses are very easy to watch, and normally the storylines have a mildly message driven narrative, but other than that, are not too preachy. The songs, and irrepressible joy are it's tour-de-force.

I also think religion has its place. Some people swear by it. I'm more with the 'swear at it' camp. I know lots of people find it great solace and help, and, blah, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Good for them. Let them write a blog about how great Jesus was, or why Christianity is the best thing since, well the crucifixion. I'm all for things that make people feel better.

But I'm all against the presumption that you MUST really have a religion. That if you're an atheist, you are really just in denial, and 'haven't found god yet'. Where was he hiding, under a rock ?

As a famous comedian once said (sorry, can't remember which one) on the subject of god 'I stopped talking to my imaginary friend when I was a kid'.

All those people that put themselves as 'Jedi' in the religious belief section on the census. (they may have changed their minds once they had seen 'Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones). Honestly ? Their 'religion' or belief is just as valid as all the others. From what I've read of it, the Bible has some well written stories, it is the big bumper book of life lessons. Terms and conditions of how to live on this planet with your fellow man it is not.

What will be will be. Let people live in peace. They will, quite naturally find a way to fuck it all up, but its important to give them the space to do that. They like to learn from the mistakes they can walk away from. The others. They don't so much.

As generalized life lessons go, all of the religious texts have great examples to us, that we should really learn from, take heed of. Live by. Some of the more specific stuff just isn't relevant, and is hopelessly out of date.

In much the same way that Shakespeare's plays have lots to say about the human condition, but he didn't write a jot about Tweeting, facebook, or texting. The mechanics, and technology change, but people fall in love, people fight wars, people tell lies, commit murder, make mistakes. All these things are timeless, and this is what makes them continually relevant despite the passed age of such language and formalities of human interaction.  You wouldn't really sit down and start to draw up rules that people were supposed to live by from the plays, as excellent as they are.

This is the real shame. Religion is such a good idea, in that it tries to teach people how to live with each other, how to have some sort of framework that we can all identify with, and live by. In reality what happens is humans get drawn on the dogmatic details that are mostly overly literal interpretations of opinions or societal norms that are as out dated as the book(s) themselves.

Great episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, where Wesley Crusher is sentenced to death for entering a small cordoned off area on the paradise planet of the Edo. In pleading for his release, and the exception to this crazy rule, Picard remarks to the mysterious god like trans-dimensional beings that have happily accepted the role of gods over this planet, 'there can be no justice all the time laws are absolute'. Translation. Laws must be able to change.  

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Step away from the keyboard with your hands up !!!

Having pined on and off ever since my Mac Mini died on me about 6 months ago for the courage, and the money to purchase a new Mac I have narrowly avoided buying one today.

Having looked through flEaBAY, and scrumpymacs and Apple's own reconditioned computer section I had become attached to the idea of actually purchasing one. Not a new, new one, you understand, god knows there's no way I can afford that. (Don't you Mr Jobs ?). But a reconditioned, or second hand mac, is not only cheaper, but better for the environment too. Well that's how I tried to justify it to my accountant self. He wasn't having none of it. He flicked over to his spreadsheet and in a flash, was tutting and shaking his head.

Now look. In an ideal world, the right to own a Mac would be part of the constitution. In a slightly more idealistic world, The United Kingdom would actually have a constitution.

I did make one daring bid on a Mac Mini, which with 4GB or Ram had twice the ummph of the one that died. This bid was quickly lost in a torrent of bids that came in around the end of the auction. In the end said Mac Mini went to a new home, with the new owner paying some £40 more than Spread-Sheet-Simon was willing to part with.

It took me long enough to decide if I want/need a macbook or a mac-mini. Macbooks are much dearer than MacMinis, but you do get more of the Mac experience, having the proper keyboard and screen.

Dammit. Apple, tempting little devils that they are, are offering finance available on new Macs. This arrangement, apparently does not stretch to the machines in their reconditioned section. Boo hoo.

Common sense, and a level head, would tell me to hang fire until the next month is out of the way, when I have that horrible bill from the council to pay, and it will be more of standard month without any big ticket items throwing out all those calculations that Spread-Sheet-Simon is so feverishly trying to compute.

After all, what is it that I intend to do on this new, (new to me) toy, that I cannot do on my Asus netbook, or on my old Packard Bell (this very machine) ? It's not like I need to do any editing any time soon.

I will have to wait.

Until I win the Lottery at this rate, which will be a while, seeing as I don't buy tickets.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

No more late fees

Due to the cutbacks, in Newport, Isle Of Wight, the local council are planning to close 9 libraries. Infuriated by this 'threat' the residents have organized a mass 'borrow'. They've gone to the libraries, and each taken out their maximum 30 books.

Apart from the fact that they have now saved the council the cost of having to pack up the libraries, and move the books, there is the obvious question. Do we need Libraries in the 21st century ?

How many of us have actually been into one in the last 12 months ? Apart, that is, for homeless people, students, school children or retired people who can't work the internet. Some exclusions. I know.

I haven't been in one for a couple of years, and I think, before then, it was even longer. I don't count walking round Cosham Library last year, trying to figure out if I could go there with my netbook, use their electricity, and sit there, undisturbed and write. Sadly, I didn't think that was something that I would be able to do there. Don't get me wrong, really love libraries. I really love the smell of all the old books, the excitement of going somewhere where there is just so much overwhelming choice, and you don't have to pay. There's something about it that takes me back to memories of my childhood, when my sister and I would go to the main library in Portsmouth, and spend hours trying to chose which books we would want to take home and read. All those trips to the North End Library, looking through the science fiction section. It was there that I got to read more Star Trek adventures, because this was the time before they started making the films, and the only Star Trek available was what we came call 'The Original Series' on BBC2. It is also where I discovered Arthur C Clarke. 'Islands In The Sky' being one that particularly jumps to mind.

Considering that the provision of all those freely accessible books and other media of research has somewhat been superseded by other means of sharing data these days, there is one thing that a Library provides that is actually more important now than ever. The peace and quiet.

Maybe it is as much the cheap and free availability of information off the internet  that keeps us away from the Library. Maybe it is that the idea of just sitting, or looking round a place, where you can't talk, where there's no music allowed blaring with beat laden annoyance from someone else's so called personal headphones, no ring tones. Have we 'progressed' - if that is really the word to use - to the point where we can't even contemplate the idea ?

I'd love to take my daughter to the Library, but sadly, none are open on the day that I have her (Sunday - when I have her overnight on a Saturday, they close before we would be able to get there). Again, these things are the result of cuts in the provision of service. Although at the same time, I wouldn't expect the council to waste perfectly good money keeping open Portsmouth Central Library to times later into the night just on the off chance that I, or anyone else might suddenly feel the need to use it. You mean wade their way through the vomit coated streets, frequented by the hardly dressed and badly behaved idiots of Portsmouth ? No. Thank you.

Is it that they are not open when the people need them ? Maybe they are only open at the times that the few people that currently use them will need them. If they hope to attract new users, surely they need to open when those people need their services ?

There are many things provided by, and in Libraries these days. They are so much more than places that hold vast depositories of books. They have come to symbolize that concept in society, that the ability to learn more, to improve ones self is free to use. That knowledge is such an important thing to give to people, that we give it to them for free (at the point of use).

If you can get private hospitals, is there a market for private libraries ? Is there a gap for some sort of lending service, something along the lines of these postal DVD rental companies ? I wonder.

At the same time, there is surely a lot of overlap in the services currently provided. Maybe the libraries of schools, colleges or universities can be somehow incorporated so that the general population can use them. (Where relevant safeguards can be put in place). A lot of these resources are not used for a vast portion of the time. Books locked away, in the dark, where no one can see them, or be enlightened by them are a waste and a dreadful, dreadful shame.
Have you ever heard of the 80 / 20 principle ?

The idea being that you end up spending 80% of your time with 20% of people. In business this could signify that you spend 80% of your resource time with the customers that either make up 20% of your customer base. This means that the remaining 80%'s needs get ignored as you don't have the time left to help them.

In my work, this can mean that I spend 80% of my time with a very few members of my team, which in itself isn't something to object to. The danger though, is that all that time is severely unlikely to deliver anywhere near a decent return on all that time spent. It's also likely that the rest of the team don't get any quality time as a result.

That can lead to resentment of that person(s) by the rest of the team, who perhaps are really desperate to spend some time with their manager, and get some support.

Now if the person(s) taking that amount of time up, do actually really need that help, or if they feel particularly insecure, they'll feel considerably worse if they can feel or see the reaction of their colleagues to them. It might be very easy for that to quickly be about personal feelings, rather than tasks or actions.

It's a tricky situation, and not that easy to deal with, whilst emotions run so high.

If everything that I had to deal with in my job was easy to fix, they wouldn't have to pay me so much, and I wouldn't feel so rewarded when I get them sorted. You really don't get job satisfaction if you don't work hard, but working hard isn't the only answer. No one wants to slog on and on and on endlessly with no outcome in sight.Working hard is not enough in itself. We, you, I, need to work smart.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Still crazy after all these years.

Today, after feeling that earlier in the week things were going so well, was the statistical throw back to the day of struggle, and challenge and... Words fail me. Sometimes its hard to figure out what the best way forward is.

That sounds overly dramatic. I guess what I mean is, that sometimes, as much as it hurts as hell, as much as it goes against every single cell in my body, I cannot help those that are determined not to be helped. You can lead a horse to water.....

It's also hard knowing how to make sure that there the other eleven people that I'm responsible for also get attention and help.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Let there be light !!

So now, at last, there are four blue lights, where previously there were none.

I awoke this morning, and was motivated to leave my bed by the doorbell being rung, and knowing that it would in all probability be the postman, with the equipment for my BT Internet connection and Vision box.

 I was not mistaken.

After the initial excitement, and unpacking of things, getting over the feeling that it was just like Christmas, all over again. I managed to figure out that the broadband hadn't been activated yet, and the Vision Box won't work until there is a broadband connection present.

I had then remembered that we were having a dress smart day at work, so set about getting ready to look gorgeous for another day at the office. Okay, as gorgeous as I can get myself looking. Got to the bus stop, realising on the way that I had missed the direct bus (the 700) and needed to get the 23, the slow and round about route bus. It was only as I was standing at said bus stop, having walked there, that I decided to check my diary on my Blackberry, only to discover that actually I wasn't meant to start at 10:30, but 10:15. Ooops. Or words to that effect. Another expensive trip to work via taxi then got hastily arranged. There was no way I was prepared to be late.

After finally making it home, it was something of a shock to see that now the line has been activated properly the number has changed. Ho hum. Glad that I didn't let many people what it was.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Shuffle off will ya

So what of this very modern thing of having music on shuffle ? Does it spoil, somehow the experience of enjoying the album whole, in the order that the artist, or producer intended ?

Growing up as I did in the era of vinyl and cassette tapes I'm characteristically ambivalent about the whole thing. When I was a lad, I would spend (waste) hours collating together the perfect combination of songs onto the same tape. I guess the relevance of deciding what songs were on 'side 1' and which were relegated to the relative obscurity of 'side 2'. What was this speaking with someone else's lyrics supposed to achieve ?

On a practical level it was to put into one place the songs that, at that time, you most 'digged' (wanted to listen to). Let's not forget this was precisely the time before ipods, MP3 players, years, decades before people came to understand that ripping wasn't something you did to paper you wanted to get rid of, and burning wasn't something you did to logs. Ah, those were the days. Trying to coax some life out of a pair of dying batteries. How the sound deteriorated steadily as the last breath of life is spent before the music stops completely.

It's funny, isn't it, how technology shapes our lives. How developments in science to fundamentally change our relationship with the environment and with each other. Is it really so, that now we carry music on our multifunction devices, our smartphones, that it ceases to be something that is special, that you savour ? Is the music now really just noise, not just to us, but also to those around us ?

Monday, 17 January 2011

All your iEggs in one basket ?

Apple have announced that Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence due to ill health. This becomes newsworthy because apparently each time he takes some time off because he's not well, Apple's share price takes a beating. Why ?

So the mythos goes, he personally oversees every development in the Apple range. Can this really be true ? Is one man really the gadget messiah ?

You can't deny that during is time, Apple have certainly blossomed and created a niche for themselves in bright, shiny, expensive and gorgeous technology. Who would really have thought, before ipod, or iphone that technology would be such fashion.

Surely it doesn't make good business sense to really build the foundation of your company's future on the shoulders of just one man ?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sunny Sunday..

While Chloe monopolises the shower, I get to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and some 80s classics courtesy of Wave 105.

Is this the last weekend that I will have to 'make do' with the mobile broadband dongle ? I'm hoping that the broadband equipment will arrive next week, and I will have proper internet, for the first time since moving out of my old flat at the end of November. Okay, so for the two weeks I'd stayed at my parents' I'd used their wifi, but it's not the same. Not the same at all.

The clouds are well and truly racing past, even though the wind at ground level seems to have died down somewhat. Even Mother Nature can't maintain the same level of effort forever.

The peace, and reflection, eventually shattered by Chloe coming out of the shower and announcing that I was listening to the 'OAP' channel. Charming.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Devil wears prada...

I do love that film. You might think a pointlessly slushy 'chick flick' about the personal choices made by a girl who desperate to break into journalism, takes on a job working for 'Mrs Impossible'. All comes good in the end, despite losing her way, and selling her soul, she reclaims it at the very moment that Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep)  points out that Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is turning into a younger version of her ruthless and self centred self.

Many life lessons in that film, and it's hard to ignore the beauty of Anne Hathaway, let alone all the gorgeous (and not so gorgeous) clothes. Lessons about pursuing dreams, whatever the cost, but making sure that they are your dreams and not someone elses. It's one thing to alienate your friends and disappoint your family as the cost you pay for reaching a goal that's very important to you, but it's something else entirely to do that on the quest to satisfy someone else's ambitions.

Isn't it too easy to spend all your energy, and time, living up to someone else's dreams or expectations, only to discover later on that whilst doing that, the person you have the longest and most important relationship with, yourself, is slowly, but surely, dying inside.

Chloe and I went to see 'Gulliver's Travels' at the cinema today. The modern envisioning of the original tale, re-imagined with the involvement of Jack Black, Billy Connolly, Catherine Tate and Amanda Peet, to name but a few.

A witty script, well delivered characters and the seamless CGI techniques we have all come so used to make this a very enjoyable family film. That's where the audience is.

We both had a great time though, and enjoyed a rather Roller-coaster like ride on the 700 from Gunwharf.

Pizza for tea, meant a great evening of fun (and expense). I am knackered though, as I did't get to bed anywhere near early enough last night, and have got the bus straight from work in Havnat to go and pick Chloe up in Southsea.

Friday, 14 January 2011

It's good to talk

I was surprised, and I have to say, a little impressed to receive call and a text message to let me know that my land-line was now active, and that there was no need for me to be at the property next week for the appointment. Yes, that's right, the one that I wasn't going to be able to be at anyway.

Just a fantastic example of sitting back and letting things sort themselves out.

Though I have to say that I thought it was a nice touch, letting me know not to stay in, and sending me a text to let me know what was happening.

Not really complicated, but I guess it's the simple things that work.

Now gotta wait till next week for the broadband to be connected.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Cuts Cuts Cuts Cuts

Lots of noise on the TV news tonight about the prospect of 2000 job cuts at Manchester City Council.

With union representatives doing the usual thing of complaining that the prospect of job cuts are 'unfair' or 'politically motivated'. The dark, and rather pointless cloud of strike action being mentioned.

I think I've gone on 'the record' before stating my views about strikes. The idea that anyone can think that by not turning up for work, and forcing your employer to find a way to cope without you, that you prove the reason for you to keep your job is just fanciful at best. Short sighted, masochistic and ever so self defeating.

I don't think anyone would be surprised to realise, or indeed care, that I am not any kind of socialist.

Would a union, perhaps suggest to it's members that if they were prepared to see a reduction in pay, or conditions that more of them would be able to keep their jobs ? There is, after all, only so much money to go round, and if you spend your whole time increasing the pay and conditions of the rank and file, all you really do in the long term is make them uncompetitive and unemployable.

Having said that, I suspect that there wouldn't be as much fervour for cuts in levels of management or administrative positions. Surely there are ways in the 21st century that any large organisation can cuts it's costs, increase efficiencies without actually having to shed the workforce ? After all, but the time you pay redundancy money, set up retraining programmes and counselling for those effected, is it not just cheaper to keep these people on in the first place ?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Helen cometh

A somewhat mixed bag of a day off. Certainly not a nothing day. I always feel disappointed towards the end of my days off, but at the same time, I'm not actually quite sure what it would take to feel the opposite.

I had arranged with the site manager from Taylor Wimpey that he have some workmen come round this morning, to carry on some remedial work to the flat. I'd agreed that they arrive at 9, so I got up at about 8, which is quite early for me on a day off. They didn't come round.

When it got to midday, I gave up waiting for them, and went off into Cosham to get some things, most important on my list was a birthday card for my Dad, who was 61 today. It's always next to impossible to figure out what to get him as a present, without lots of help from either my mother or my sister, I am naturally drawn toward a bottle of port. Thankfully, my sister avoided the maintenance of a port mountain by asking if I wanted to go halves on some vouchers for a garden centre with her.

My sister came round later in the afternoon, when she had picked up my nephews from school. They came back here for a bit, and by the time they made a move to go home, my Dad had gotten home himself.

Helen came round, as planned, and actually not as late as she normally would be. We agreed on some things that we needed to in regard to the new show. We are going to have to confirm a later date than originally planned. We need to give ourselves enough time to get the reunion, and read-through sorted, but at the same time, have a timescale tight enough to drive us forward. We've proven time and again that very distant deadlines actually turn out to be counterproductive.

It's been so long since we actually looked at the script, we read through everything we have done to date. We made some minor alterations on the way, mostly removing lines. This can't be a bad thing. To know that some three months after starting on the play, we still find it funny, still like the idea, still have the motivation and inclination to complete it and bring it to stage.

Now we just need to get enough other people to feel the same about it, and it will be the success that we want it to be.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

It feels like midweek. But it's not. It's only Tuesday.

Liam came round last night, and we had a great evening, chilling, talking... drinking... eating. Never quite really got round to putting a DVD on. Before I knew it, we were still talking away, although slightly slower, and more slurred at 1 am.

By this point, I was rather knackered, and Liam called a taxi, and went outside to wait for it. (I'd offered to wait with him, but he'd declined) It was only as I was checking facebook the next morning, well, okay, that morning, that I discovered that he'd had to wait for 50 minutes. I felt so awful. I know I didn't turf him out into the rain, but.. bad host. Bad host.

Helen sent me an email today, confirming the time for her to come up tomorrow (confirm it again that is). She has been invited to a reunion with Solent Theatre Company, the group that she was in prior to M27 (Players, as it was then) being formed. She'd mentioned in her email that she would perhaps be asking for a lift from Steve Oldfield. That she didn't know if she should let him know about the prospect of an M27 reunion. She knows that he and I had some rather strange, and not very nice altercations in the company's past.

In life, despite your best efforts, there are inevitably some people you get on more with than others. On a sliding scale, some you would dearly love to spend all the time in the world with... and conversely, there are others that you wouldn't want to spend time with if they were the last person you could find to talk to in the dying days of planet earth. Everybody fits somewhere on that sliding scale.

I'll leave it for you to join the dots.

Personally, despite any events in the past, they are, well, in the past. Although they are best left there, I could hardly suggest a reunion for the drama company that didn't actually include he man that was instrumental in forming it.

I have to give him that accolade, because it is the truth.

Another truth is that we have entirely different, and somewhat incompatible visions about which direction is needed to assure it's (the drama company) continued survival.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Fish Custard

Great day. Great. Day.

Up and collected Chloe, nice walk back to the flat from Hilsea, stopping off in the park. Gorgeous sunny, but chilly day. Sun shine. Remember that ? Seems like an age since we've seen any, but up we woke, and there it was. Bright. Shiny. Day.

I had my parents over for lunch today. This makes them the first guests I have cooked for in the new flat. Only appropriate really, considering their help.

Having managed to cook a roast dinner for 4, and survive - as have the guests, and tucking into one of the bottles of wine from the box I brought before  christmas.

All in all, not a bad a weekend. Back to the routine on Monday morning.... the day itself soon to be over.. and then to my next guest.....

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Cleaning is good for the soul

Saturday, day of rest. NOT. Well, not completely.

After spending a rather leisurely morning sat in the front room, listening to the wireless (radio), and reading 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' on my Kindle I went into Cosham to do some shopping.

My parents are coming to Sunday lunch tomorrow, which'll be the first time I have cooked for anyone other than Chloe in the flat. After I'd struggled back from Tesco with the shopping, which was quite a walk, even though I did get the bus some of the way, with a heavy bag of shopping.

After a spot of lunch and some more reading, I finally got  myself motivated to do the cleaning, but not until about 7pm. No matter how late you start it, cleaning always makes you feel good. There's something thoroughly therapeutic about things looking all clean, and clear of clutter and mess. Not that there is much clutter or mess. A soothing action all the same.

When I was on lunch break yesterday, at work, I called BT, to see if there was any was I could get the appointment for the installation of the telephone line, and Broad Band brought forward. They could not, and trying to change the date to one that I will be at home for, means that I'd have to put it back about a month. Does seem crazy. Still. Good things come to those who wait.

With this entry, I exceed the number of entries made in the month of January in 2010. Not really an achievement worth celebrating just yet. Progress though. For sure.

Perhaps it is this, that this year will be about, small, but measurable steps in the right direction ?

Liam is coming round to watch a dvd on Monday night. It will be his first visit to the new flat too. An evening of company, a DVD, perhaps some wine. Should be good.

Then on Wednesday, Helen has promised to come round 'early' - which for her is 5pm. The intention is that we can talk about the show, and then actually get down to doing some writing. Don't hold your breath.

Friday, 7 January 2011

One down... 51 to go

You know how I said the other day that I had probably jinxed things by saying that I felt that I was doing okay, and that I was making good progress.

Well, that bad mojo caught up with me today. It was a day in which it was certainly harder to spot the 'achievements'. Even so, it was the whole business today basically screwed it's plan up and threw it in the bin within half an hour of us starting.

Previously, I might have fought this fire fighting, or argued about it, but today I just got on with things, even with the slightly more difficult conditions. This, I think, helped. I wasn't so much fighting everything and everyone else.

Bloody hard work though.

After last winter, I promised myself that I would not go through 'that' again. I decided, in the spring, that I would change how I dealt with the overwork that forms part of the winter period in the call centre (the bit when everyone goes crazy with fear about their bills), and I have to say that although this hasn't produced an oasis of calm in the middle of the call centre that is me, I do feel more.... rational.

I'm really no use to anyone, especially me, if I am feeding of anger and frustration all the time, I end up making rash choices, bad judgements and bite of the hands of those that try to help, purely because I am so short-sighted in that state that I can't see the wood for the trees.

Well, we are more than half way out of the dark now, it may still be a fair old climb back out of winter, and into spring, but we are on the way there.

And this summer, I'm determined to spend more of it somewhere I normally don't.... out of doors. I want to get out there and soak up the air, the warmth, the sun... if anything, just so I can remember that there actually was a summer when we get back to winter again.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Falling towards the weekend

It's nearly the weekend. The end of the first week of 2011.  Here we go. Back into the daily grind.

As daily grinds go, this one wasn't actually that much of a... grind.

Sure it was hard work, but felt like progress was definitely being made. Even with the odd minor drama things went along smoothly.

Things seem to have turned a corner from a 'mood' point of view as well. Seems that people are starting to get on board. Yeah.

Of course, I could now have cursed myself to have a Friday from hell, but I'm going to cling onto that positive for dear life.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Warm welcome...

After what felt like a day of pushing water uphill - with a fork, I was rather pleasantly surprised to have a message from Kelly on my phone when I'd finished. She'd had a day of not feeling very great, and had asked if I was up for a kebab, and her coming round to see the flat.

She didn't need to ask me twice. As ever, always up for a chance to spend some time with a mate. We grabbed some kebabs (courtesy of the Marmaris - Cosham High St - seriously, if you live in Portsmouth, go there ! The chicken special is gorgeous) and headed back to mine for a drink or two (ok, I was the only one drinking, as she was driving). We hadn't caught up for ages, so it was nice to do that. Listen to what's going on in her life, and bore her with what's going on in mine.

We then decided to watch 'Twilight Eclipse'. It's now the second time I've watched the film. It's made more enjoyable having someone to watch it with, and to talk to, through the boring bits.

Somehow, we got onto the subject of 'companionship'. IE. Me finding someone to be with. It is not the first time that she has suggested signing me up for an online dating site. Like she quite rightly points out, 'what have you got to lose'. This may be the case, but still the fear of making a fool of myself, paralyses me to inaction. She advises me that it would be 'best' to decide to mark myself down as 'one thing or the other' - in regards to preferences. There may be a certain shallow, and brutal logic that women may not be too interested in men that are not purely interested in women. This thing about 'withholding' things. Is it lying, or is it spinning the best image ? Personally the nuances of anything to do with dating, or understanding let alone predicting or appreciating the attraction or motivations of either sex have always been somewhat of a mystery to me.

At what point are you just presenting your best side, putting your best foot forward, but a little bit more and you are being untruthful ? Where is that line, and is there a line at all ? I seem to have quite a black and white attitude to such things, and this doesn't, on reflection seemed to have served me that well. I'm not quite sure what I should take away from that. Is it that I should be less upfront, less honest, or is it that most people are just shallow and inflexible.

But then again, who am I to accuse anyone of being shallow or inflexible ?

First (working) day of 2011

Back to reality today. A long old day, went in early to make some progress with the end of month admin that somehow, despite no matter how much I aim for otherwise, always ends up being a last minute affair.

It was the same with my homework when I was at school. 'Simon could do better, if only he applied himself'. Hmm. Thing is I've always had the ability to be fantastically well applied when the mood takes me,  but the sad story is that there are so many things that I didn't feel the desire to 'apply' myself to.

Maybe it's sulking, maybe it's laziness, I'd like to think otherwise. Okay maybe a bit of it was sulking.

The new (lack of) hair style has been well received, well at least at work. I am sure my Mother will proclaim that I look terrible, where as my daughter will probably hurt herself laughing so much. (She may even 'ROFL').

The week has barely started, and I am hoping that Helen will be coming up tomorrow night so that we can make some progress with 'The Fat Cat & The Grafter'. Not really liking the title so much now, I think that will have to change. I'm getting bored with it. I have had time to get bored with it, I think that's part of the problem. In the past, Helen and I have written the script in more of a crash of 'has to be done, shit the show is on in three months' kind of way. 'What On Earth Is Happening' wasn't complete when we started rehearsing, in fact I think the second act wasn't done until about two months before curtain up.

To be fair, it showed in the writing, there was too much dross and crap in the second act. We can do, and will do better at reigning in the meandering aimless, and equally plot less. There's something about the need for the looming deadline, the fear of failure, of letting other people, and yourself down. But it's funny how, no matter how hard we've tried, we just can't 'ease' ourselves into that, we can't 'plan' through that, and tell ourselves to spread the load a little. Like masochists for the stress. Strange how that 'fight or flight' mentality is the thing that forces the creativity. That's why I really like the burn of 'Script Frenzy', and 'Nanowrimo'.

Need to come up with a plan. Fail to plan, plan to fail, that will give me time to work on 'Red Herring'. Now all the chaos of the move has died down, I now feel the urge to at least finish the story.

Monday, 3 January 2011

A close shave

Out of boredom, or purely the fact that I'd never done it before, and wanted to see what it looked and felt like, I've shaved my head.

Look !! No hair
Another day where I have not left the flat. Lazy bugger that I am. I did, however make a nice stir fry with some ham and the left over sausages from Sunday's roast. Yum.

Actually, just thinking about that makes me feel hungry again.

Having gotten over the panic of dismantling my hair clippers just after barely starting, and struggling to get them back together again. Wondering just how I was going to put all those bits back in such a way that the clippers would again work, or if I couldn't, how I would go out and either buy a new set of clippers, or go to a hair dressers / barbers. Would they shake their heads, rub their chins and then inform me that I had encountered some cowboys ?

Thankfully, with such motivation, my manly engineering skills we sufficiently engaged to allow me to put the clippers back together, and I didn't have an suspicious bits left at the end either.

Getting used the shiny, smooth feel of my noggin. Keep finding odd bits that I've missed, so have to crack out the wet-shave razor and sort them out. Not sure what reaction I'll get at work tomorrow, but thankfully I am not in first thing in the morning, actually a reasonably late start.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Resolutions that survive...

... well at the very least until January 2nd.

Day with my daughter, a nice Sunday lunch, and her pretty much only really interested in playing on her Ipod. At some point soon I need to start planning for our summer holiday away. Each year I chastise myself for leaving it to the last minute, and missing out on the best options. This year, it will be different.

I was hoping that tonight I would have a friend round for some drinks and to watch a DVD, but they aren't able to make it, a bout of illness being to blame. It's a shame, as I've been eager to watch the film in question, but have been holding off until I watch it with company. Shame. Good things comes to he who waits.

Out of boredom and the reluctance to go to a proper hair dressers, I have decided that I am going to shave my hair off. I just have this desire to not just use clippers on my hair, but to wet shave my head. Going for the Charles Xavier look ?

I am waiting, and not all that patiently for when BT come and connect my landline and internet connection. January 19th is when it is booked. I am going to try and ask them if there are now any earlier appointments, but I am not holding out much hope. With this being a new-build property I think it takes longer to get these things sorted. I was disappointed not be able to get Virgin Media. They don't run their services to the site, so I have no choice but to rely on the old fashioned copper cabled BT network. After much number crunching I had decided to plump for BT's Broadband, Telephone and Vision package. I am not that bothered by the Vision element, but it will mean I have the ability to record TV again, and watch it when I want. Also by signing up to BT Vision, the broadband download limit gets upgraded. By paying for the line rental a year in advance, not only does that mean that I escape the increase in VAT on that part of my bill, but also that BT wipe the cost of the line installation. When I was looking into these things, no one else would wipe that cost, and provide a competitive priced service. I had originally been very interested by the package offered by O2, but they were unable to find my address on their database, and their recommendation was to 'call back in four weeks' time'.

Yeah, not really the sort of thing I wanted to hear. Although I have had to wait some considerable time to get the installation done by BT, at least there's a chance that when they upgrade to their fibre-optic network, then the service will be technically more on a level playing field with Virgin Media's.

Only time will tell.

I had a bit of a vacuum round today, as the flat had suffered the effects of Chloe's presence. I was surprised at how after a week there isn't a need to dust. Just a clean through of the kitchen, bathroom and en-suite and it'll be looking all pristine again.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2011 ?.... is that relaly you ?

As we all threw 2010 into the trash, what was that cowering under the sofa ? Shivering with shyness ? Well, 2011 of course, our new year.

Come on '11, out you come, there's no need to be coy. Enticing it, as we do with a nice and pleasant tone, and some breadcrumbs.

The interesting thing, of course, or not, depending on your view is that all this celebration is about the marking of a date, that is entirely given significance, with human invention. How we do like to mark out our lives with these signposts or landmarks. We divide it up, shouting for joy at the clocking up of another number.

Isn't that really much ado about nothing ? Like the day of your birthday, when people share with you their best wishes on the notching up of another year. 'Congratulations' they say. Pleasant as it naturally is, the alternative - of not getting any older, by dying - isn't really something that people would contemplate. Always make me think it's like congratulating someone for breathing properly.

And when you mark that inevitable passing of another year in your life, does one day feel any different from the last. No. Not one jot. How does the food in my cupboard know that at midnight is suddenly becomes inedible ? Will those cheese and onion snacks suddenly be more dangerous to my health ten minutes past midnight ?

Time is such a strange thing. It surely passes, without a care at all for it's going, or how we measure it. Marching as it does inexorably on. Well, this year, I'm going to be marking the passing of the time by making a blog entry every day. Some of them will probably not contain very much at all. Some will inevitably be 'fillers'. Even so even if I achieve half this target, I'd have made considerably more entries than 2010. I am hoping that somewhere in the mix of 'fillers' and droll, boredom that is really the vast majority of the content of most of anyone's life I will be recording what happens to me, how I feel. There have been some very unexpected things in 2010, and I am counting on 2011 being the same. No one can predict the extraordinary things that are in the future. The ordinary things (wanting to stay in bed longer every morning, dealing with the roller-coaster of challenge, achievement and self motivation that is work, the incomplete works that I attempt in feeble acts of creativity....) will be there too. Even if one person gets something out of all that, it will be a success.

What I'm hoping, is that the one person, as a minimum that gets something out of that, is me.