Friday, 28 May 2010

Jason Derulo: Ladies, don't go there.

Okay, it's a bit of a posting frenzy tonight, but I've got to hone those writing skills- my CV made it past the first rounds of the journalism dogsbody position :-)

Anyway. Jason Derulo is currently rubbing himself and some young lady who is working tight black leather. Now this isn't about his obsession with singing his own name or synthing Jay jay jay Arrrrr. It's not even about this Beluga Heights thing; that's been mentioned before.

My issue (it's fair to call it that) is his song lyrics. Oops I slept with someone else, but don't worry, because when I'm in a position to I will attempt to buy your affection. And as for that "In My Head" song...

Ladies, picture the scene. You're at the club, maybe he's right. Maybe you are looking for love and that's the whole reason for you attending. Across the dance floor, a handsome stranger catches your eye. Your eyes meet. Could it be destiny? He dances over, bends down and says, "In my head I see you all over me, in my head you fulfil my fantasy, I can see you going down..."

How do you respond? Maybe you're the kind of girl who goes in for being sexually objectified for the way she looks and you are won over by his attempts at seduction. In that case I suggest you seek counselling for some major self esteem issues. Me? I'm afraid it would be a case of punch first, ask questions later.

What a little creep.

Funny/Clever Youtube Video

Check this youtube video out. Genius. I may over use that word... but it is really good.

Home Alone: Not the Film

I've never been afraid of being in the house or flat by myself- except maybe one time when I lived in a bedsit in a rough area of Reading and there was an earthquake AND a giant punch up outside my not too stable flat door, but those were exceptional circumstances.

Lots of my friends are terrified of being in their homes by themselves, and will go to stay with their parents if their boyfriend is out for the evening. I think it's quite a sad situation. I've always kind of enjoyed my own time in the house, even from when my parents started leaving me alone at fourteen or fifteen. Though I guess we did have a pretty big dog.

Anyway, tonight I've spooked myself a bit. The boyfriend has gone out, and I'm at home because my leg is awful again. I just went to the bathroom, and our shower curtain was pulled across the bath and fluttering in the breeze. It was like a scene from Psycho or something. I guess he put it like that to dry it, but for a moment I couldn't bring myself to pull it back. Spooked.

Then I had to go and check the house for intruders.

Now I've established that everything is safe, I have my pizza in the oven and Julia and Julia ready to play. I decided to go for something warm and light hearted as opposed to the thriller I was planning on. My imagination is clearly already running riot down a dark path. Let the voyage of self discovery via French cuisine begin.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Snark Hunting

In the midst of the word he was trying to say
In the midst of his laughter and glee
He had softly and suddenly vanished away
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.*
So, just bear that in mind, and be cautious when you go hunting your own Snark. The thing is... the thing is... Can you be over cautious?

* from Lewis Carroll's Hunting of The Snark

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Donkey Spotting

I've been immobilized again today. I made the mistake of thinking that my leg was up to walking about 30 metres yesterday, and had to run around loads for work. The result? My leg feels like it's been broken, the achey pain you get when they've numbed you with painkillers but not quite enough...

Work has become even more of a joke recently. Management is getting worse and worse. Having failed Ofsted we're meant to be working towards improving, but communication is getting worse and people seem to assume that if they say things will be done, they will get done without anyone taking any actions. There was the most disastrous example of this the other morning, but I can't give examples just yet as I am paranoid someone from work will come across this and recognise me.

I've spent the whole day applying for jobs.

Teachers Season 1-3 [Region 2 Import-Non USA Format] [Region 2]The whole thing makes me think of this Sitcom that used to be on TV here called Teachers. It was about a raggle taggle bag of unprofessional teachers who did the bare minimum to get by while the incompetent fools in management only made things worse. Totally unrealistic (I thought at the time) and totally hilarious.There were always insane things going on, and one Christmas episode a donkey was walking through the corridor bedecked with fairy lights etc. In my memory after this, the donkey would always show up whenever something crackers happened. I find myself looking around  expecting to see the donkey everywhere... 

This cannot be real, surely? I must be living in the age of reality TV through some version of The Truman Show...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Extreme Heat Affecting Writing

I like to look at the map of my site visits and see where all the different people are visiting from. There have been people in Malaysia, India, Egypt, Texas, LA, Florida... incredible. But I think visitors in these locations share an important trait I lack. They know how to handle heat. And will have little sympathy with me here!

We've just had a scorching weekend in the UK. By scorching, I'm not entirely sure of the top temperatures reached, but I had heard night temperatures of 17 Celsius and day temperatures of 27 banded around for where I live. This will be a joke to many, but I cannot cope with the heat.

I have strawberry blonde hair, incredibly pale skin and if I go outside without suncream on an average summer's day I burn. I have to wear factor 50 plus designed for small children. I tend to find a cool spot to lie in with a book, then flop away from the heat. I get headaches and cranky.

I've been trying to rewrite a short story I submitted to a magazine, using some of their feedback. I want to write a frame to develop the main character further, so that readers will sympathise with their actions more. I know exactly what I want to write too. It is just far too hot.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Driveway Violation

Someone who I do not know is parked on my drive. Not in a space I like to claim as my space. On my bloody driveway blocking my bloody garage. How rude is that? So I had to park a few streets over. And hobble back to my flat with my sore foot. I am so angry.

If I could safely park to block them in for the rest of the night without annoying other road users I really really would. ARgggh. It's just so rude! Who does that? Who pulls up on a total strangers drive and leaves their car there for the day without permission? It is 6:30 pm!!! Rant rant rant.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Summer Days

Summer is finally upon us in the UK, so I haven't been posting much this weekend. I went to a barbecue with the in-laws yesterday, and a picnic with some friends today.

I have to give my notice in this week if I'm going to be able to leave my job by August 31st. I didn't get the first one as they needed someone before the date I can start, which was disappointing, but there will be others out there. I need to talk to the boyfriend about it, but I'm sure it will all work out. I just know I can't keep on in the current position.

I've applied for a job which would involve some article writing etc. which is quite exciting. Haven't heard anything yet, but fingers crossed.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Local Free Ads

Do you read your local free ads? I do. I found someone looking for books for a charity sale who was willing to collect, so I gave her a pile and wrote the address in for Project Serendipity.

I guess for me the ads have the same appeal as The Leila Texts; I always wonder about the back story. Who are these people and what is going on in their lives that they are posting these adverts? It's become something of a fascination of late, especially since I'm on the look out for a career move.

Here are some of my current favourites, either for humour, intrigue or both:

Lift to Stonehenge needed for 3 people on Sunday
STUDY PSYCHO Reimbursed short computer task
Need help. If you got a ladder, contact ASAP
Male, 17, Hardworking, Can Do Anything
Personal Training, Anticellulite Massage. For girls only.

I think the one with the ladder has to be my favourite.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


So, I sent my CV to a job agency about a vacancy for a secretary in business. Nice regular hours away from teaching... An hour later, the job agency called me back saying a school had seen my CV and wanted to offer me the same role there at a higher wage...

Nice to be head hunted or whatever, I'm sure, but I applied for the other job because I wanted a change. Money is important to live nowadays, obviously, I think it's slightly offensive to pretend it isn't, but I really need time to rest and recover from all my surgery. I don't think I can do that and devote the energy and enthusiasm which is required to be a good teacher...

Monday, 17 May 2010

My Teeny Garden

I don't have much of a garden to speak of, and yet I dream of growing delicious edibles... my attempts so far are photographed below. I also have tomato and courgette (zuchinni?) plants which aren't worth photographing yet because they are doing even less than these guys:
Chives complete with flowers.
Basil, oregano and thyme. 
Strawberry plant in flower.
 French beans needing to be staked.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Best Movie Opening Lines

The Breakfast Club
"Saturday, March 24,1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed" The Breakfast Club (1985)
Just been watching this on BBC2. I was addicted to this when I was 15. I had it on VHS... is that antique yet? Even as an adult (I guess I am one now) I still think that it's one of the best stories of friendship and appreciating each other's differences. I think it probably has the best film opening lines that I can think of in the English language. Anyone got any other suggestions?

Friday, 14 May 2010

How To Cook Duck and Raspberry Sauce

I am not a good cook by any stretch of the imagination- I do cakes and biscuits well, but not savoury. But as a part of the bonding with boyfriend/making more effort thing, I decided to make dinner tonight. I adapted a recipe for pan fried duck that I got from the BBC website as follows.

If you feel the need to emulate my culinary prowess (if I can do it so can you) you will need: two duck breasts, vegetables of your choice for roasting, salt, garlic, thyme, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, 50 g raspberries.

Cut the skin of the duck in a diamond pattern and rub salt into it, and prep your vegetables. So I peeled potatoes and put them on to parboil, parboiled carrots, cut squash into chunks and squashed my garlic.

The prep work is important, because it means that you're free to whack everything into pans etc all at once. And yes, whack in is a technical cooking term in my house.

Fry the duck skin side down in a hot pan for 6 mins, then turn and do it for about 6 mins on the other side. The beeb says 4-5 mins on each, but I found it was a little underdone. Parboil any veg that need it, and fry your squash, garlic and herbs for 3 mins to soften the squash.

When the duck is done, put it on a plate to "rest" and keep the juices in the pan. No one really knows what this means. Well, chefs and people who can cook probably do, but I think it has something to do with the meat relaxing, re-juicing itself and becoming tender. While the duck is resting (I assume it's meant to be fairly cold when you serve it) you roast your veg and make the sauce. Veg roasting takes place in the oven at 180 Celsius. Don't ask me what that is in gas marks. Tough things like potato take longer than squash, which takes about 20mins.

The sauce is the fun bit, you take the ducky juices, whack them in a pan with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and simmer it to reduce it by half. Whack in the juice of an orange, 50g of raspberries and boil until the fruit is all pulpy and delicious. The the BBC says you should strain and blend it. I just pushed it through a metal sieve, and it had a similar effect. It's really tasty, and the boyfriend couldn't believe I've made it.

Slice the duck up into thick slices, pour some sauce over and arrange the veg in a pleasing fashion. Really easy. And it got me the nice iced lollipop from the fridge....

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Secret Keeper

Do you have someone you can share secrets and discuss important matters with? I'm onto June in Gretchen's happiness project (see my earlier post), and apparently if you have five or more friends with whom you can discuss an important matter, then you are more likely to describe yourself as being very happy.

Now the friendship section is of great interest to me, because since I uprooted from my homeland to England, the aforementioned 70 hour working weeks have made it difficult to make true true friends. Don't get me wrong I have them, but they are mostly back home and work commitments make visits tricky to schedule. I've made friends here, but they tend to be through work and there's always a point where you'll worry about being perceived as unprofessional if you allow yourself to "speak plain".

I am friends with my boyfriend, but expecting too much emotional support from one relationship can put a drain on it. I'm friends with his friends, but apparently, contact with women is more effective than contact with men for abating feelings of loneliness for either gender.

So, who do I turn to when I need someone to talk to?

First and foremost has to be family. I'm counting my boyfriend here, even though we're not married. I'm really close to my father and grandmother, I call one of them every day just to chat. If I've ever got something that's annoying me I will turn to my Dad first of all. I'm also one of four children, so there's usually a sibling to turn to when I need a chat.

Next, I'd probably turn to my two best girlfriends from university. We lived together for two years until the housing dept made a mess up in our third year, but I've known them for six years come September and they usually have good advice. These are the classic example of friends in the homeland. We've all moved from our uni town, but they live in the same city as one another, and I'm a three hour train ride away.

At work I've got a good female friend in a different department. We started at the same time and do things outside of work together. She's the one person I can really trust not to make professional judgements about me if we're just chilling out. I guess there could be others but I'm a little paranoid. People in my department are nice, but I sometimes worry that they have their own agenda.

I have a really good guy friend, part Austin Powers, part Oscar Wilde, who is like another brother to me. We've been friends for about eleven years now, but I think that we might be growing apart. He's busy taking over the world in his sector and has a new girlfriend. I'm not so great at keeping in touch. He's moved nearer to me now though, so maybe I will see more of him soon.

There are more than these. But those are the ones who I would instantly trust who spring to mind. The family unit is a fairly solid base, but I guess the other relationships are suffering a bit of rust which will have to be put right. The book is good in that respect, it's got me thinking more about these things than I otherwise would.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun I've been reading everywhere about a book called The Happiness Project I'd be surprised if you haven't heard of it, the marketing machine means that it's everywhere in the UK at the moment and probably is in the US too.

Since everyone would like to be happier (any sane person anyway, even if you're happy, who doesn't want to be the happiest they could possibly be) and I too suffer from this sensation that life is often passing me by I decided to buy it. I ordered free delivery from amazon, and it arrived today- which is great. Free delivery is 3-5 days, and today was day too, so that in itself boosted my happiness. She has a blog too, though I haven't spent any time checking it out yet.

Since I am still unable to walk (post operative infection, so many tablets I rattle when I move) I've been reading it on the sofa which has become my world. I've gotten through the energy section (tips sound good, I can't exercise so can't try many out atm) and was interested to see that she noticed that decluttering was important (see earlier post on my desk) it has inspired me to see what other areas I can declutter from a seated position and I've moved onto my closet and drawers of miscellaneous paper around the house.

I'm feeling much sicker than yesterday, which is an unfortunate effect of the medication, but I'm also feeling less despondent. I will keep you up to date on my progress through the project.

Monday, 10 May 2010

On the Edge...

I've had a busy weekend, since I spent the whole damn thing working. Since I spent the whole week working too, it occurred to me- I don't actually have much of a life. I work a seventy hour week. So when you factor in sleep time. Barely time to eat and wash let alone live.

So, I've decided. Time for a career change. I've notified my employer. I'm applying for jobs. It's a little bit scary.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election Day- Conservative Rant

I haven't really wanted to blog about British politics, because the whole outlook at the moment is so depressing. But I saw this and I really had to post it.

I couldn't agree more. David Cameron has no more experience than Nick Clegg, so those who discount the Lib Dems as an untested party don't have a leg to stand on. I am (just) old enough to remember the Thatcher years and how she ripped the heart out of the South Wales valleys. I remember Major and the problems on going.

The country is bad now, but when the Conservatives were last in power and promised to create jobs they cut 3,000,000. They've already promised public sector cut backs. That and Cameron has decided (in his ever so informed opinion) that working class families are damaging to children and that schools should open for ten hour days Monday to Sat to prevent them spending time with their families.

As a child from a working class family I find that offensive. My family worked hard to encourage me to achieve in a range of areas, and I got the grades to go to Oxbridge if I'd wanted to. I didn't want to. There's more to life than being a member of an old boy's club.

As a teacher I find it worrying. I often work a seventy hour week as it is, when you take parents' evenings, extracurricular activities, marking and planning into account. Class sizes are so large that I work most of my weekends trying to give the children the individual attention they need. I had burn out at Christmas and now have to force myself to stop marking and do other things. It doesn't mean I can ever switch off. If they are cutting public sector spending, how are they going to manage these new systems when British teachers are all ready on the brink of burn out?

I also have a personal problem with David Cameron. It isn't even about him being an out of touch, private school brat whose lifestyle and upbringing couldn't be further from that of the majority of people he wants to represent. Though that is obviously a factor. What's gotten to me is the televised debated. Loads of people seem really impressed at his charisma (remember that you were as impressed with Tony Blair, and look where that got us) but he has really annoyed me. Not once did he answer a direct question, but would side step it and produce a load of clever sounding sound bites which didn't actually answer the question.

This raises two issues for me. Is he genuinely incapable of comprehending what he is being asked? Shouldn't this be an important clue that he is not capable of understanding the needs of the people? If not, is he really arrogant enough to think that we are all stupid enough not to notice that he's doing it. Another good reason not to trust him.

Yes things need to change, but the dictionary definition of a Conservative is: resistant to change; a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Life, Lemons and Seated Activities

So. I still can't walk properly after the surgery so I'm trying to be as productive as possible while not in school (that thing about life dealing lemons and making lemonade.... I love lemonade). I've graded loads of papers and gone through books and marked them. I have a set of class reports to write but I won't be able to do that until later as I need to log onto the school system remotely and I'm having trouble doing that so I need boyfriend to help out when he returns from work.

I took a break from teacher stuff at what would have been my lunchtime (to preserve my sanity) and made a cup of tea and bashed out 930 words (yes! in less than an hour!) for a small circulation women's magazine. I've submitted it today, but I probably won't hear anything for ages. I've submitted to them before and they took a while to reply.

I've taken some (procrastinating?) measures towards getting the house clutter free so that I will be able to spend more time writing freely. We got new bathroom shelving the other day so I've been sat on the bath sorting various items of clutter into who belongs to who piles on the shelves and that looks pretty neat. In addition to that I should have my new shoe rack and under bed storage boxes arrive tomorrow evening (never let it be said that my life isn't fantastically exciting) and I think that will be a great place to store bedding and towels etc that we just don't
So until BF returns from work to fix my computer (oh got a new external hard drive to keep my writing backed up on as well!) I'm trying to think about tasks I can complete while seated so as not to anger the offending limb before dressing changes. I think that sorting out my desk will be a good step- I will be able to writhave space for else where.e my reports there then. Look out for before and after pictures.

Before, it's a disgrace, I know. Though much of that is because boyfriend piled clothes on the chair which therein started a clothes mountain... you know the drill...

I'm not sure why that picture is upside down...
the file isn't. It's obviously trying to reflect
the higgledy piggledy nature of my desk...

After, much better. I've got a way to go... maybe find some way of fixing the hinges so my laptop isn't on a downward slope, but still. I'm pleased with my initial efforts. I have further makeover plans so watch this space or something.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Erasing David

I've been watching Erasing David on TV tonight. Its about a British man who puts himself under surveillance and then attempts to disappear because apparently Britain is one of the most intrusive surveillance states in the world. I would never have thought of it that way, but it is scary how much information can be pulled up so easily.

What was really worrying was the examples of corrupt data that were shown on the programme, people whose lives had been destroyed by glitches in the system which produced criminal records for them as a result of having a similar name and date of birth to other people.

There was a case where 39 people committed suicide as a result of being falsely accused of sex offences as a result of some data corruption. They were fully cleared, but years later it kept showing up on their records and no one knew where from.

The man in question is becoming extremely paranoid. I don't blame him either. He's gone to hide in the Welsh mountains, and I would too. Historically its been a pretty safe bet if you're trying to keep a low profile.

Writing by Numbers

So after grading a huge pile of exam papers (sorted into legible and illegible handwriting for efficiency/procrastination purposes) I decided to take a break from school work and try some writing. I'm almost tempted to go back to school work.

It took me a good hour (give or take some online distraction) to bash out a passable 250 words. That is after about six deleted attempts of 100-200 words each which were just diabolical. So maybe it was productive in a way? Hmm.

Either way, it's not the greatest output. Call it 250 words an hour, and I'd have about an hour's grace each week day to write... and the least you're looking at for a novel(la) is 50,000 words... maybe I should leave my revisions until I've actually finished writing. The whole thing. In the hope I won't be able to bring myself to delete it and start again even if it is odious drivel.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Highs and Lows

I woke late this morning after going to see a 10pm showing of Iron Man 2 last night and I had a message on my answer machine.

When I called back it was the local allotment manager to offer me a place on their allotment list. These places are like gold dust and I applied in October. I was so excited but then I realised that with all the recent surgery I'm probably not going to be able to put in the physical work required, so I've had to ask him to put me back on the list with a note about why I can't accept.

I was so disappointed. But maybe one day I will have my own house with my own garden which I can take my time to develop and nurture. Is this displaced broodiness? Probably.

The dream would be to live in this quiet little village near us with these Victorian redbrick cottages which look out over the village green. I go through there on the bus and think it would be such a lovely place to live. However. I'm unlikely to ever be able to afford these. Lottery win please!

On a more positive note, I spent the other day bashing out a plot on index cards. There are still gaps (gaping holes?) in places and I have yet to do anything in terms of "proper" writing, but it is a start.

I've decided I need to sort out a defined writing space so that I don't get distracted by my other half (its mostly been football noise this weekend seeping into my brain) and I've already started operation declutter to help get my desk fit to use for writing. I've got storage being delivered from Lakeland and Argos next week which will hopefully create a more zen environment for me to write in.

I need to get some giant poster frames to get my Mucha prints put in to display. This will make me happier.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Procrastination: Thief of Time

I've procrastinated a lot this morning since I woke up nine with the intention of actually doing some "proper" writing today. I've always wanted to spend more time writing, the extent of the creative writing I do at the moment being completing the tasks I set the kids in school which always lead to me being asked what books I read and being told, "It's really good, but you have a messed up mind!" Thanks... I think.

I love reading other people's blogs and I'm always struck by the creativity I find there. I check daily for new Picklesworth poetry and I like stumbling across arts and crafts blogs. Recently however, I've come across loads of writers who are doing it for fun and I've felt inspired to get down to writing. Once I finish procrastinating.

So this morning I have danced around to Paramore, The Veronicas, Thirty Seconds From Mars and The Wombats while cleaning. I have taken my French beans outside and re-potted them (note to self, buy bamboo canes... these guys need height) and now... now I must do some planning for my writing.

Here's wishing me luck in my endeavours, and you in yours.