Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Voice hurts. Ear hurts. Need wine.

Today, through some management error, there were 6 people on annual leave and 4 on training. This left precisely 3 of us in the office (plus the Director who isn't part of the group phone log-in). And the phones went mad. Seriously mad. I was picking up, speaking, hanging up and picking up straight away as the queue built up and call after call came in. The problem is that our number is printed on the prospectus, on the course information leaflets and at the bottom of every course information page on the web, so people think we're the switchboard. Lots of the calls we get aren't even for us, but we're so big on customer service that we try our best to help them anyway and find out who they need to be transferred to. At one point David and Trusha were both on lunch, and I was our entire office and therefore basically half the switchboard! By the end of the day my voice hurt from talking, my ear hurt from the phone and I was so frustrated that I hadn't had time to get all of my normal work done - I wouldn't mind if I worked in a call centre and answering the phone was all I did, but I have to answer the phone and do everything else as well. Somehow I also managed to clear the office inbox (180 emails, I don't know how I did it!), do my daily accommodation spreadsheet and get over half of my open day mailing done.

On the plus side, David who was the duty officer for the day told our Director that I'd answered the majority of the calls and had done an excellent job, and she herself told me that I was a star and that she'd been listening to me all day and I'd done really well. She also gave me a lift home and told me to open a bottle of wine, and I decided that I deserved it so I'm currently enjoying a bottle of white (well, as much as you can enjoy something that cost £4.99) and the feeling of a job well done. I can even find job satisfaction in a really frustrating day...I must have something right somewhere.

So glad 3 people are back from leave tomorrow though...

Friday, August 25, 2006


I've just dug out some of my old photo albums going back from 6th form through to 3rd year, and spent an incredulous few minutes uttering the phrase, "I can't believe I left the house with that hair!" over and over again. Seriously, what was I thinking?! It was like Thora in the rain every day! I was blaming it all on the lack of straighteners until I remembered that I actually bought my first pair halfway through first year, and they seem to have made no difference at all. I think it was the ceramics that really worked the miracles. Apart from the hair though, it's so strange to see how even people from uni, who I always remember as looking exactly the same, have grown up so much. Everyone looks so young at the music centre ball in second year, and even in third year. I think I'll definitely have to get the albums out at some future gathering for the entertainment of all!

On a nostagic note, it's so odd to see how much has changed in just a few years, and I'm really happy that I'm still such good friends with so many of the people in the pictures. It's sad that I don't know anyone from first year anymore, and those pictures especially are so invaluable as they remind me of a year when I looked truly terrible, but when I was totally happy. I still think of that as an idyllic year. I've also been reminded of the importance of taking photos, and I regret not taking more back then - I fitted two balls and associated years of activities into one album. The trend over the last year of taking lots of pictures will definitely have to continue, and one day I expect to look back on them as well and think about how young we all look now.

Oh, and although my hair was the definite star attraction, I did find some pictures of tour in first year and there were notable other youthful haircuts that caused a certain amount of amusement...*coughMr Gilbertcough*...

The Adventures of Henrietta

As some of you may know, my Dad has a large houseplant called Henrietta who lives with him in Swansea. While I was there I had to look after and give her three drinks of water, and one evening she sat on the balcony with me but tried to jump off during a sudden gust of wind and had to be brought back indoors. Henrietta has a more exciting life than you might expect!

Today she asked Dad to send me an email to tell me all about her latest adventure. I thought I would share it with you.

Dear Sarah,
Henrietta wants you to know all about her holiday.

Originally she really wanted to come with us to Nice. But I explained all about the new hand luggage regulations and how she would be squashed in. And then how she could be easily mistaken for a Mad Arab with a Bomb, and shot like that nice Brazilian man on the tube, and she saw that this was not wise.

I gave her the chance to stay at home. She wanted to know if you were coming again. But I explained she would have to be big and brave and have one big drink, and then wait for 10 days...perhaps with her feet in a bowl of water or on a sponge type cloth. I could tell she was not happy, because she was SO quiet. Then she tried to jump over the balcony again, and I knew she was really anxious. And she does find County Hall so very dark.

So we decided that she would come to Bewdley!! It is SUCH FUN seeing all her friends again. She's even sharing a room with an orchid!! And when she looks out of the window, instead of those boats ("more and more boats", she says...!) she sees those really rafish wild plants...living every day in the open! And they get tickled by those bees!

So Henrietta sends her love, and wants you to know she is having a perfectly splendid time. Her plate has come as well, though she did have to come off it in the car because she was being very silly and sliding round every time we turned a corner.

She hopes you are well, and is always really pleased to hear your news.

Love Dad

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Things you didn't know about UCAS #103

They have really excellent hold music. With most companies you either get muzak or the Four Seasons, but today at UCAS they were playing a lovely violin concerto from the Classical period (I have to say I don't know which one it was) and what's more, they weren't just doing a small section on a loop - you got the whole lot. The first time I called them I was on hold for ages and I really enjoyed listening to a lovely long section of the first movement (I assume) while the second time I got some of the second movement. It almost made up for the fact that each of the three people I spoke to was unhelpful and/or slightly incompetent...

In other, much more exciting, news, the lovely Raquel is back in the country! Woohoo! Getting a random phonecall from Leeds cheered me up no end this evening, and now I can't wait for Saturday night. Hurrah.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Things to do before you die

Today I was thinking about what my own answers would be to the "Things to do before you die" question. I don't really like that as a title - it's overused in the media and it seems very presumptuous; after all, I might be knocked down by a bus tomorrow (a quite likely occurence when you look at the average TWM driver). However, the alternative is just calling it "Things to do" which makes it look like stuff that has to be done this week - possibly slightly ambitious! Whatever you want to call it, I've started a list of my own. It feels like it has gaps in but I've run out of inspiration at the moment, so I may update it when something else occurs to me.

So...Sarah's list of Things I'd like to do before I get old, assuming I do!
- Stand on Sydney Harbour Bridge on a clear sunny day
- Be a bridesmaid
- Host a really classy dinner party without getting stressed (although not too classy...a bit of wine-fuelled giggling is essential!)
- Learn ballroom dancing
- Cry at my dad's speech at my big white wedding
- Go for a minibreak in a 5 star country house hotel with an 8 foot square bed, order smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast (in bed naturally), go for walks, eat posh dinners, drink cocktails and champagne, snuggle up by a fire and stay in bed a lot (not necessarily sleeping...)
- Buy a house, decorate it and fill it with beautiful things
- Learn to drive and buy a car
- Have children
- Write down and learn to cook all mum's recipes while I still have the chance

And that's as far as I've got. Actually, there were two more things on the list, but despite my occasional emotional ramblings to the contrary, I don't think that absolutely everything should be shared with the world!

It would be interesting to hear what's on other people's lists. I think it's a good indication of where your priorities lie, and of what really matters to you. My themes seem to be love, friends & family and home which is a very accurate summary of what's important in my life. Of course there is some material stuff in there too...the day I get my Beetle or 2CV will be a good one indeed!

Bright ideas needed!

This is an appeal to my lovely readers for some ideas. I'm bored and I hate Sundays, and I need things to do on future weekends to prevent me spending any more days like this. Everything I usually enjoy doing (reading etc) is making my head hurt, and everything else I can think of to do would cost me money which I just don't have. I have loads of free weekends coming up, and although I do also have things to look forward to they're all going to be really expensive. So...what can a single girl get up to on a Sunday that will be fun and totally free? I'm hoping that all you lovely imaginative types can think of things that won't even require money to be spent on bus fares or food, although if you can you're doing better than me!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Date #5

So yesterday was my date with Mr Short the First. I think to be fair to him I shall have to think of a new name, as I didn't really notice his height and I certainly wouldn't have thought it was a big deal if I hadn't been looking for it. He didn't really help himself with his opening comment, which was "Are you sure you don't mind about the height thing?" to which I told him that giving girls a reason not to go out with him within the first five minutes of meeting them was not necessarily the best way forward, and I think he got the message.

Anyway. I had a really good time! I'd forgotten how much fun it is to make myself look pretty and go out for dinner with someone, and I really enjoyed being able to put across the side of me that I wish I could project all the time. Sadly this was the only reason I had a good time - Mr Memory of a Goldfish (of which more later) was quite nice and all, but not very interesting and not fanciable, and although we kept the conversation going all night I knew I wasn't going to see him again. When I ask the question, "What are your ambitions? What do you have to have achieved before you die?" I have to confess I'm not terribly inspired by someone who says, "Well, I'd like to be a clinical psychologist". This I think was the reason I was able to be myself - when I'm with someone who I'm not attracted to I can relax and be the person I wish I could always be in front of men. I'm confident, sassy, intelligent, interesting and funny, and I also do a good job of looking interested in the other person even if I'm not. My problem is that when I'm with someone who I really fancy, I become thick as two short planks and lose all powers of conversation. I sit in silence desperately racking my brains for something to say and then when I do talk I come out with the most awful drivel and make myself look completely stupid. I also tend to respond to all questions by giggling like a fool. The worst thing is that a very small part of me retains its mental faculties and sits there shouting at the rest of me, "Come on woman, what the hell are you playing at? You're supposed to be intelligent and you are the equal of this person so why are you doing this?!" but the rest of me is powerless to resist the overwhelming idiocy. One day I hope to find a gorgeous man who I can talk to...surely it can't be too hard!

Anyway. I entertained Juicy today with some choice snippets of conversation from last night that I thought the rest of you would appreciate as well. You will now see why Mr Memory of a Goldfish has been renamed (perhaps Mr Completely Thick would also be appropriate).

Him: So what's the difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic?
(This came out of a conversation about places we'd like to visit)
Me: Well for a start one's a continent and one's an ocean.
Him: And didn't the Antarctic used to be part of America?
Me: Erm, are you thinking of Alaska?
Him: Oh yes, that's the one. So where's Antarctica then?

Me: I'm coming to Birmingham for my birthday - we're hiring a limo,
dressing up and going to Broad Street.
Him: What are you dressing up as?
Me: No, I meant dressing up smart...
Him: Oh right. So when was the last time you went to a fancy dress

Him: So you live in Leamington then.
Me (rejoicing that he'd actually remembered something): Yes, it's
lovely, blah blah.
Him (5 minutes later): So do you live with your parents?
Me (knowing full well I'd told him this already): No, I rent a flat by
myself in the centre of town.
Him: Which town?
Me (suppressing an urge to strangle him): Leamington...

I hope you're suitably amused.

Well, after an evening of being attractive and intelligent I'm back to my normal self today with an impressive display of Disaster Baking. Obviously forgetting to buy chocolate drops when I wanted to make chocolate drop cookies was something of an error, and then I got bored and made the balls of dough far too big so they all merged in the oven and although they came apart it was in very weird shapes. They're slightly tasteless (unsurprisingly) and generally a bit of a disaster, but I have to take them to work or I'll eat them all myself. Luckily I remembered the golden rule which is that when I'm trying something new I should always make brownies as a backup, so everyone should be happy with those tomorrow.

A level day looms large. If I make it through 8am to 5pm tomorrow and 8.30 to 7pm on Friday of constant "Have I got in?" phonecalls without a break (we're even having a buffet delivered so we don't have to leave the office) I shall see you all on the other side...

Monday, August 14, 2006

New pics

Pics are now up of Mum's birthday/Bewdley Regatta and Swansea. They're on my space as usual.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cosy and warm

So Mr Short the First and I are (literally) taking a rain-check due to the crappy weather. This is a very good idea on his part as I went out food shopping this morning and came back with the classic fluffy hair due to drizzle thing that I really hate. Rain and dating definitely don't mix. Hopefully it'll be a lot dryer on Tuesday, plus it's always more fun going out for dinner during the week as it feels like a lot more of a treat. I can now curl up indoors for the rest of today and feel smug that I'm not out in the cold and damp.

Yesterday was such a good day, from the bacon and croissants at the beginning to the strawberry souffle at the end. I don't know about anyone else, but I had a thoroughly jolly time looking at the llama porn and going on the crappy rides, and it was so lovely to see mum and dad and eat yummy food in the house that still feels so much like home. I love having two homes to go to - one that's just my little space to be completely me in, and one where I get fed and watered and loved every time I go back. I'm really glad we've booked so many concerts together this year as I miss mum and dad, and now that seeing them is more of a rarity it becomes a real treat.

Right, I'm off for a classic Sunday of Cosmo, Sunday Grandstand, girly films (possibly), Dusty Springfield and How I Met Your Mother which is a quite fabulous programme that might well be the new Friends if more people start watching it. I might even get my duvet out and do the whole thing in style. Sometimes a cosy day in is just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sudoku madness

I appear to have a minor Sudoku obsession. I bought a book of them to do on the train to and from my holiday and only completed about half of them, and now I find myself working through the rest every evening in a slightly concerning manner. I'm onto the hard ones now and it appears that the more I try to do, the faster I try to do them which inevitably means I get it wrong at some point without noticing and it all goes tits-up. Tonight I tried one of the giant 4x4 ones and after over an hour of really careful thought (see? Deeply scary!) I found it didn't work, but I had no idea where the mistake was. My book is now littered with little phrases that I uttered at the point when I found mistakes, and then felt compelled to write down. These include "Bugger", "Sodding bollocks" and "Arse", while the giant one is now titled "So bloody annoying". I worry myself sometimes. I think I may be turning irrevocably into someone who lives alone and talks to themselves and does Sudoku. Next thing you know I'll have 7 cats and then it's only a matter of time until children won't go past the house because they're frightened of the Mad Cat Woman with the crazy hair (although my hair is actually looking really good this week) who has walls covered in little grids of numbers.

Ok, so I didn't entirely mean all of that last bit, but I feel the Sudoku obsession ought to stop. Maybe tomorrow I'll buy the Guardian and do the Kakuro instead...Mwahahahaha.

A plague of short men

Today I had an email from someone who sounds perfect in almost every way - among many other things he's a pianist, he shares lots of interests with me and he can write! The problem is he's 5ft 4. I just couldn't go out with someone who was 4 inches shorter than me...it feels a bit shallow but sadly it is important. This is one of the very few occasions when I wish I was a bit shorter. Ah well - could be a potential new friend.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Could be an error...could be a good thing

I just agreed to go on a date with a charming man who does a worthwhile job and told me I was lovely, interesting and pretty (how much that shouldn't work and how much it actually does is the topic of a whole other post) and who is going to take me out to Birmingham on Sunday for wine and lunch in Pizza Express. Good things about this - ooh, lots. Bad things about this - said man is 2 inches shorter than me. This really shouldn't be an issue, and indeed he told me this and I still agreed to meet up with him. But isn't it really shallow that it bothers me at all? I guess I'll find out how much of a problem it is when I meet him and discover whether he makes me laugh as much in person as he did over MSN...

Ooh, I do like having something to look forward to on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Good weekends are a wonderful thing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A post by the lovely Juicy - something highly philosophical (apparently)

So vodka, what is it that means that you can drink an awful lot of it and not have a horrid hangover in the morning? I don't understand. It has the ability to make me pass out in all manner of places and yet I never suffer the next day. Am I alone? Why is this? What flavour donut is on the menu? Why do birds suddenly appear everytime you are near?

Beef. Innit.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Binge drinking

Binge drinking is yet again in the news, with a new study showing that people in some northern towns will lose around 2 years of their life due to excessive alcohol consumption. ITV news has just done one of its usual simplistic reports on the issue (phrases like "a sea of alcohol" etc) and I've been shouting at the telly over the stupidity of it all. According to the Guardian, a binge drinking session for a woman would be anything more than one and a half pints, or three shots of spirits. Now can anyone honestly tell me that they head out for a night out aiming to drink no more than this? You could easily get through more than this in its wine equivalent over a civilised meal without getting drunk at all, and a couple of cocktails will also take you over, again without causing you to throw up in the street and assault a paramedic. The guidelines are so unrealistic that no-one's ever going to take them seriously - regardless of what the actual health research recommends, surely a better way forward would be to set a more realistic limit for people to aim for as a good starting point? A recommended limit that at least decreases anti-social behaviour would probably be higher and more achievable, even if it did still damage your health in some way. Telling people to never get drunk again in order to stop them dying at the age of 83 instead of 85 is just not going to work.

Rant over.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I hate S4C

S4C is as far as I can see the one and only really bad thing about Wales. There are a couple of programmes on Channel 4 tonight that I'd quite like to watch - my life won't be over if I don't see them, but I'd circled them in Heat (again, how sad am I?!) and they seemed to be the best things on tonight. Of course, I switch the telly on and get that familiar sinking feeling when I hear the odd language coming out of it, and I check the S4C listings and discover that instead of my programmes I am being offered the delights of Pobol Y Cwm, Clwb Garddio and Bandit, followed by Tipyn O Stad. Of course Big Brother is on as normal...Channel 4 getting its priorities right as always. The sooner Dad gets digital telly the better. I really hate S4C.

Turning into my mother

They do say that everyone eventually turns into their parents, and I think it's been happening to me for a while. Today I was presented with yet more evidence. When we used to go on family holidays, mum and dad would drag us on country walks almost daily, either along cliffs or lanes or round National Trust gardens. My brother would complain loud and long and cause friction by whinging the whole way there, and while I knew this was pointless and tended to get on with it, I always wished that we could just be left alone to sit round the house reading or watching TV, or go shopping or to the cinema instead. Now I'm on holiday by myself for a week and I'm free to set my own agenda, so I could quite easily be spending my days cocooned inside the flat, reading, watching telly and eating, venturing out only to go into town. So what did I choose to do today? I caught the bus out into the middle of nowhere and went for a cliff walk, then sat on the beach and read the paper before walking all the way back again. I am voluntarily having my parents' holidays - and I'm having such a good time! I resign myself to my fate.

Mind you, I very much doubt my parents have ever visited a vodka bar or enjoyed 2 for 1 cocktails on holiday...maybe there is some hope for me yet!