Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Tonight I have been to a Reception. I use the capital R not because I am feeling casually Biblical but because it was an event, a drinks and nibbles party with suits.

It was the Moody's Corporation Reception for Distinguished Alumni, an event held every year in a variety of London venues. This is the second one I have attended.

I'm not sure why I went, to be honest. There was the freeloading aspect to it, of course. Free food, free drink (not really enjoyed to its fullest because I had overindulged last night) and a gift on the way out. The last time I went to one of these things, I was given a Tiffany desk set that still graces my desk at work. This year it turned out to be a magic wallet.

That isn't what it's called. It's actually a wallet for holding business cards and receipts for expenses. There's some clever goings-on with elastic when you open it in different ways that I haven't entirely figured out yet. However, when I finally got through the seemingly endless layers of wrapping and saw what it was, the only description that fit was "magic wallet".

However, the freeloading isn't really me. OK, so I haven't had to pay for my meal this evening and I am now the proud owner of a magic wallet but I think I would have rather been in the company of friends while I did it. I would have preferred to eat at home on the sofa in front of the TV.

I'm not a terribly social animal. Stick me in a room full of strangers and I'll be off in the corner somewhere or looking out of the window. I have no concept of small talk. My small talk is very small indeed. When confronted with people I don't know I tend to just listen.

It's not a part of my character of which I am proud and I am deeply envious of people who can just launch themselves into a room full of strangers and chat away without a second thought.

Even in groups of people I do know I will tend to be silent if there are sufficient numbers. This isn't a winning strategy at work.

Anyhow, tonight I was going to meet up with a friend and ex-colleague but she had to drop out at the last minute. However, as I'd said I was going and I'd brought my suit to work, I decided to go anyway.

I vaguely recognised two of the people there and spoke with them for a while. They belonged to the London office and may have visited the office in Reigate where I was based a few times. There were no other people from Reigate. In Reigate I was a Knowledge Engineer (a specialised type of programmer) but all the people in the London offices deal with credit ratings and wouldn't know what we did in Reigate at all.

So you see, other than the fact that we had a parent company in common once upon a time, there was little shared ground with any of the people at the event. I left after an hour and a half but at least I got my magic wallet.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006


David and I have just seen Titanic, the musical. It was showing at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley and was performed by the West Wickham Operatic Society. It had nothing to do with the film, by the way.

I thought it was excellent. There were a few glitches, mainly on the sound when a few of the microphones weren't live at the appropriate times or the volume not high enough but, on the whole, I thought it a very professional performance.

I always find the Titanic story a bit of a weepy and this production made this happen again. I found I was filling up during some of the numbers. One was at the beginning when the passengers are full of hope for their voyage and the new lives they are going to have in America and another was when the ship is sinking (sorry - it was a very traditional interpretation) and the men have to say goodbye to their loved ones.

That an amateur production managed to engage me to that extent is fantastic. I was very impressed.

We're going to see another production of this show in March in Hull. This should be better. We know the director and we know he has extremely high standards. I'd better pack the tissues.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Torchwood trouble 

Despite a few disasters (Cyberwoman) I have actually enjoyed most of the episodes of Torchwood. Last night's episode, even though there were no aliens or supernatural entities, scared the pants off me.

If any of the writers of the series read this, can all future episodes be filled with kittens? Thanks.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dark Chocolate Kit Kat 

I just had my first dark chocolate Kit Kat. What a bloody good idea! They are, as expected, scrummy.

A few years ago there were limited edition dark chocolate Mars bars. Also scrummy but sadly no longer available.

I have seen dark chocolate Flakes advertised as well but I haven't seen one in real life so they are still a myth.

Do you see a theme developing?

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Ow, ow, and, may I just add, ow 

I get mouth ulcers. I have ever since I was a child and probably will have them on and off for the rest of my life. You can understand, therefore, why I'm fairly keen to try stuff to get rid of the things as quick as possible.

Last week I had a huge one on the inside of one cheek. It was just in the right position to get caught between my teeth so I nipped out to Boots to get something for it. I thought Bonjella maybe. Something like that.

Anyhow, I found something else, Boots Mouth Ulcer Treatment [Bold is the closest I can get to the emphasis on the packaging]. I bought some and applied it. It worked like a charm!

You dry off the ulcer and then paint this stuff on. It sets and you can more or less forget about the ulcer. It's there but it heals quicker under this covering.

Great, I thought. I'll use that again. So, when I got another ulcer, albeit a lot smaller, I thought I'd try it again.

Being Mr Cock-sure and confident, I didn't follow the instructions and worked from memory. I think, however, that I left it on too long before rinsing as, first, the inside of my lip inflated and then the skin came off. It's a bit sore but I will leave it alone now.

Back to Bonjella, I think.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bedford Building Site 

I work in a building based in Bedford Square. Earlier this year, Camden Council decided to change the layout of the Square so that the road was parallel to the buildings lining the square rather than follow the oval of the central garden area.

This was supposed to be finished in May but owing to Thames Water needing to relay all the sewerage and water pipes, completion was delayed until now. This has meant that Bedford Square has, for most of the summer, resembled a building site.

It's now at its worst. The road surfaces have been flayed in preparation for their resurfacing and huge great machines rumble back and forth, either stripping more road surface, laying more tarmac or making it flat.

Our building shakes every time one of these behemoths does its thing outside.

In addition, it is currently nearly impossible to get out of the Tottenham Court Road side of the Square. Either the road is roped off, the road is full large impressive machines or, an additional attraction, the pavement is blocked off because there is some scaffolding being taken down.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Fireworks - OUCH! 

For my international readers, I should explain that the major use of fireworks in the UK is for Guy Fawkes day, the annual celebration of a foiled plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. No other event sees the skies lit up in quite the same way although the New Year celebrations are getting close.

There are many injuries caused by fireworks every year. Most of these are caused by people being careless with their own fireworks. I am not one of them. I have never bought my own fireworks as private displays are never as good as a public display. There is a great difference between seeing fireworks that go *pop* and ones that go BOOM!

However, the one downside of public firework displays is that you find yourself walking along in the dark with a lot of other people. It's no excuse, of course, but that's how I came to walk straight into a concrete bollard on Saturday night. It hurt at the time but then was OK for the display and didn't hurt at all yesterday but today is a different story.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

News Shopper Blog 

My News Shopper Blog is now ready. It is the one called A Commuter's Tale.

As I said in the earlier entry, I will attempt to make it tamer than this one, i.e. no swearing and perhaps not quite as personal. By that, I think it will be OK to write about the Grove Park Mothers Mafia but not the two Russian Poofs.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blog proliferation 

I've signed up to write a blog for one of my free local newspapers, The News Shopper. It's going to be a variant of the rants I have on here about the sub-humans on my train. I may have to tone it down a touch, however.

I also have to supply a photo of myself. I have this worry that the people on the train are more likely to see that blog than this one. The photo may have to be of me with a bag on my head. Probably an improvement in any case.

I wonder why I never thought of the people on the train seeing this blog? Why have I never thought that I would be found out by the Grove Park Mother's Mafia or the Two Russian Poofs or the countless women with bags, women with make-up, women with perfume, Woman with Tweezers, Male Fashion Victim or ...

And those are just the people I don't like! It's never seemed right to pass comment on the cuter men on the train. You can trust that they won't make an appearance in the NS blog either.

I will post a link here when the NS blog is up and running.

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Orange Redemption 

I emailed Orange to complain about the Magic Number problem from their website. To my surprise, I had a call from one of their people last night on the train home. They set up my Magic Number there and then.

They're back in my good books again.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Orange not-so-Magic Numbers 

I have been a customer of Orange for longer than I can remember. I have been happy with their service. Today I am annoyed with them.

To encourage customers to sign up with their service and to encourage existing customers to stay with them for a further 18 months, they have been advertising a scheme called Magic Numbers. The idea is that you can nominate another Orange phone number and all calls to that number from your Orange phone will be free.

Nice idea. David is on Orange. I could call him on his mobile rather than on the land-line and save myself some money.

Nice idea if I could set it up.

I tried a month ago when I upgraded my phone. The system was not working. I upgraded the phone anyway and was told to wait until my new talk plan started (a month later). Also I was told I could do it online. Fine.

Here we are, a month later. My contract is now based on the Dolphin plan and I should be free to set David up as my Magic Number. The Orange web site tells me there is a technical problem and that I should try again later.

Calling them to set it up gives me a similar message and sticks me on infinite hold to talk to a customer representative about it.

Clearly there is a problem with this system. Orange should not have publicised this until it was finished and properly tested. In the meantime, people have signed up with Orange or extended their contracts on the basis of something that Orange are not able to deliver.

A bit shoddy if you ask me.

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