Wednesday, 28 November 2007

When Shoes Shuffled His Feet

So, our dinner party with GBF was fantastic - way better than expected! I didn't have high hopes initially, as when Eyes enquired of Shoes last night whether he was coming to gym, Shoes replied that we were going to the gay guys for dinner and proceeded to sigh and huff like the big bad wolf. We left our flat and I had to stop halfway to go back for Shoes' lip that was dragging along behind us.

I was feeling surprisingly at ease in the beginning. Usually, I am so aware of Shoes' resentment at being dragged along, that I tend to spend most of my time watching him out the corner of my eye for signs of panic / excessive drinking / glaring shyness (which is often misconstrued as an air of disinterest), and frantically trying to bail him out of awkward situations. The first and most welcome icebreaker was Luna, GBF's 2 year old staffie puppy. I had already heard everything about Luna, from her eating and sleeping habits to what she got for her birthday (a £100 pound swarovski crystal collar and 2 x £50 fancy plastic food bowls), but I had yet to meet her. Shoes' dream dog is a staffie, and he frequently talks about his longing to own one when we eventually go back home. Luna was the best kind of therapy for this newp event - she provided conversation of mutual interest, she was boisterous and made us laugh, and when there was a lull in talking, GBF made her show off all the tricks she can do. Soon after we got there, D and Zen arrived. They are the other couple I have met through my volunteer work at the RSPCA, and they are absolute gems. Very quickly I realised that something was missing. That sense of constantly being on edge, worrying that Shoes was going to look pointedly at his watch one too many times... it wasn't there!

I've mentioned before how I am a little obssessed by this freebie website where I get free movie tickets and the like. D was the one to first tell me about this, and I knew she and Zen shared my love of cutting corners in entertainment costs. What I didn't know is that these people are professionals. They could write a book on how to get things for free. Movie tickets and mini samples? Pah, they've got two laptops, a tv and even a weekend away! I won't go into the how to right now, except to say that it's all legit and there's no theft involved, but suffice it to say, once the conversation turned to this topic and we realised just how much they take the piss, we were all in stitches for the rest of the evening.

Shoes appeared to be genuinely comfortable, and not once did I need to bail him out of a social faux pas. We'd agreed on an exit time before we came - 10pm. Finally, at 11:15pm, Shoes looked at his watch and gave me the eyes. I was nothing short of relieved; the wine and rich food had made me sleepy, and I could quite happily have left half an hour before!

As we all said goodnight and made promises to hook up again in the future, Shoes and I started in the direction of our flat and I asked him the all important question: "That wasn't so bad, was it?" His reply? "Not at all, it was cool. They are actually very cool people." And that, right there, is the highest compliment that Shoes can give. :-)

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Crowded House

You know you've still got it when you're 27 and you get asked for ID when buying wine in Sainsbury's. Yes, that really happened to me this morning, and I am still absurdly pleased about it.

I'm pretty sure from the way she was staring puzzledly at it that the cashier was unfamiliar with the South African drivers license. I could feel her rising panic as she scrutinised my card, flipping it over and back again, looking for that elusive proof that I was of age. I helpfully pointed out the date with a perfectly manicured fingernail - do 17 year olds even have perfectly manicured fingernails? - and enunciated clearly "1980", but she still scowled at me suspisciously. I could practically hear her thoughts: Is this a trick? Is this a fake ID I'm supposed to recognise and instantly alert my superior to? It didn't help that while she was struggling with her sense of morality and power, I was standing there with an inane grin on my face. It's no wonder she was reluctant to give in. We had a brief face-off - she stared me down while my inane grin widened to a moronic one, and finally she conceded. The battle was over. I had won my prize. Well, won the opportunity to pay a fiver for a bottle of wine, anyway.

The wine is for an early Christmas dinner that Shoes and I are attending tonight. GBF, who's been off my radar for a couple of weeks (I must have really scared him at our last drunken meeting) invited us along with another couple who we've met through our RSPCA work. I'm excited; Shoes, not so much. The thing about my boyfriend is that he is the most delightful person once you get to know him; around his friends he is relaxed, witty, uninhibited and positively sparkling in Christmas-tree-light style. It's the getting to know him part that presents problems for other people.

He's not unfriendly by any means; he just has an enormous psychological block against meeting new people. He's the person at the party who is so terrified by the thought of being in a crowd of people he doesn't know that he's apt to drink too enthusiastically too quickly for Dutch courage, and then needs to go home early (come to think of it, this is quite possibly a deliberate ploy). He's the guy for whom small talk is worse than the Bokke losing to England. He's said before he'd rather have no new friends for the rest of his life than suffer the agony of "So, what do you do?" conversations one more time. I refuse to take this seriously though, because even if he does mean it, I'm not about to let him hide in his cave so I am continuously forced to present myself as the swinging singleton whenever there's a dinner party/wedding/work function for Lopz plus one. I have made it my mission in life to help him get over his crippling phobia of "newps" (new people) by dragging him to various events where he knows no-one. This is for his own good, and one day when his sparkling repartee is the coveted centrepiece at every party in the neighbourhood, he will make a heartfelt speech in front of a crowd of VIPs about how he could never have done it withouth me. I only have his best interests at heart. Besides which, I have run out of excuses for reason why he is not with me at newp events. "Oh, he's having a guys' night out tonight" or "The footie's on, and he is just SO sports mad, ha ha *cough cough*" are no longer cutting it, and I have to deal with the looks of pity shot my way throughout the rest of evening. "Shame, they're obviously going through a rough patch" is what kinder half are thinking, while the others clearly snipe under their breath, "Boyfriend? Then why haven't we seen him in seven years; she's actually sad enough to make him up."

I am putting a stop to this right now. I see tonight as another opportunity to show him that the rest of the world does not bite; that in fact, there are some very pleasant people out there just dying to be his mates. The fact that he sees it as a form of slow torture is irrelevant - in the long run, this will only serve the greater good of coupledom.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Baby's Got Back!

I'm back!

I've decided to return after taking a bit of a break from the blogosphere. I wasn't happy with how miserable my posts were becoming.... every time I sat down to write, all my disappointments, insecurities and self-doubt rushed to the surface with the force of a freight train, and they became the only things I could concentrate on and therefore write about. I firmly believe my blog is a place where I can say whatever I want, and it does help to work through some of those things by writing about them. Conversely though, writing about them also causes me to dwell on them more, and dwelling on all the things that are going wrong in your life for any longer than is necessary, does end up causing you to feel more depressed than you otherwise would.

So, no more of that now. Life is definitely good, and if there are a few bumps along the way that I have to scramble over, I shall endeavour to do so with a positive attitude and not quite so much introspection.... I do believe that sometimes intense thought can be one's enemy.

On that note, I have been for a couple interviews, but have decided for the interim not to discuss my work situation on my blog until I totally have a handle on things mentally. Which will probably be the point at which I finally get offered that elusive perfect job, but until then, I will keep any failures to myself, as it's simply easier on my pride and therefore takes the pressure off posting.

A couple of things did happen last week which helped me get over myself, and the most important of those did so by making me realise how trivial the things that I am going through are in comparison to some of the other struggles that people are facing. Sometimes you just need your life put in perspective.

A good friend of mine suffers from an eating disorder. She's struggled with it for many years, and it's taken various forms over time: compulsive eating, anorexia, bulimia. Her relationship with food has always been difficult, and its complexity is proportional to how smoothly or not her life is going at the time. She told me last week that she is now in a programme - she joined about a month and a half ago, and finally worked up the courage to let me know. This is the first time in all the years I have known her that she is getting help, and it's a decision she came to by herself, and she worked up the guts by herself to go to that first meeting.

Some background to flesh out my story here: When I was 17, I got involved with a crack addict. What followed were three nightmare years of descent into the dark world of drug addiction - him using, me trying to save him - which tested the foundations of everything I ever knew or thought about myself and other people. Because of this, I've spent a fair amount of time at support groups and clinics for addiction of all kinds. Eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction.... they all amount to the same thing, and occur for the same underlying reasons; they just take different forms of expression, if you like.

Because of my own experiences, I know just how difficult recovery is for anyone suffering from this disease. I also respect and admire those who've succeeded at it perhaps more than anybody else, as the price of getting to the point of recovery is extremely high for everyone involved, and I have personally paid those costs.

When she admitted to me last week that she had entered a programme, it's like someone took the microscope with which I had been studying my life away from my eye, and for the first time in weeks, I saw things the way they really are. Basically, I stopped being so caught up in my own issues that I didn't spare a thought for other people who matter to me, and the trials they're facing. And you know what, it was the biggest relief to have my perpsective back. It felt like someone had given me back part of my brain!

I am so incredibly proud of her. My heart just soars when I think of what she's overcome to get here, and I nearly choke on my happiness at the new prospects for her future. She was reluctant to tell me, as I said to her a few months ago I didn't think she could do this on her own, and she desperately didn't want me to be right. When it turns out I was, she was at first too embarrassed to say anything. What she didn't know was that by telling me, she helped me as much as I helped her.

It's funny how things work sometimes. It feels like everything is finally right with my universe. :-)

Friday, 16 November 2007

Feels Like Home

I watched the most incredible sunset from my office windows last night, and experienced an overwhelming longing for Cape Town. The sky was a palette of red and gold streaks, and the sun a burning orb reflecting a glittering amber off the buildings. I work in a building which has floor to ceiling windows all around, and it gives us a 360 degree view of London and its frequently occurring 4 seasons in a day. I've seen skies so blue they sear your corneas, felt sunshine so bright and warm that you can imagine yourself basking on the open veld in the Karoo, and witnessed thunderstorms and driving rain so powerful, you feel the whole building might be swept away as they power past. It's a great thing to have in the middle of a city, where your immediate view is usually of grey, high rise buildings. I had formed an impression of London before I came over here, and that impression certainly didn't include colour, beauty or variety. It's been delightful to discover that while it can never touch the beauty of Africa, London does hold it's own charm, and there are some things, like the occasionally dazzling sunsets, that bring us expats a little closer to home.

I've been thinking about Cape Town a lot lately. I'm going home in just over 2 months for 2 and a half weeks, and I can't even begin to describe how that makes me feel. The last time I went home was October 2006, and I haven't seen my family and friends since then. While I miss them on a daily basis, I do what you have to do when you're away from home for an extended period of time; I get on with life, and don't let homesickness get in my way of making the most of my experience here. Every now and then, though, it rears its head up and becomes an almost tangible thing. Strangely enough, now that the time to go home is so near, I am feeling increasingly homesick and desperate to see my family. I suppose the saying 'out of sight, out of mind' is very true in that sense. When you have to, you put certain things from your mind as a survival technique. I couldn't survive here with any decent quality of life if I allowed my longing for home to get the best of me. But now that it's appraoching, and we're talking about it and planning all the things we're going to do, and I think about being back home with my family everyday; now it's becoming harder and harder to be patient and concentrate on the good things I have going in London.

I guess the fact that my job hunt has been so dismal isn't helping either..... the last few months have been hard, and going home has never looked so good.

It's all I can do to go through the everyday motions and try not to wish the next two months away. I know after this trip, I'll be able to come back to London with enthusiasm and hope, instead of my current resentment. If only flights weren't so frikkin expensive, I'd go home twice a year to recharge and soak up the spirit of home.

I should mention here that despite the constant knock-backs, the machinery is still whirring in the job hunt and I actually have another interview next Thursday. I'm also waiting to hear about possible interviews for three other roles. I'm grateful for the opportunities that seem to keep coming my way, and hopeful that one of them is going to be my niche. I'm not going to discuss them here though, as I've realised the constant tension and my incessant self analysis in my current state is actually making it harder, and there's no point in putting extra pressure on myself. If it goes well, you'll know about it; if not, you won't hear anything - unless I'm in the mood for a rant, in which case you'll hear far more than you need to!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Not That Kind

So I just got a call from my agent, and I didn't get the job. Neither of us did actually.... they've asked for more cvs. So I guess my feeling was right after all.

I'm ok I suppose, definitely better than the other times I've been rejected. It's never fun, and I wish I knew why, but at least I don't feel like throwing myself off a bridge. My agent is chasing them for more specific feedback; hopefully this will give me a clue.

Even though I have other options, and I'm getting calls everyday, I'm starting to a feel (irrationally) that I have a "second interview curse", where people are impressed by my cv and acknowledge my capabilities in the first round, but when I get to the second round they take a long hard look at me and mentally throw me in the "no" pile. I feel unemployable. I know that I'm not, and I know that someone, somewhere, in the greater universe must want me to work for them. It just feels that the only way I'm going to get there is to temp first. Companies don't usually care that much about what kind of temps they get. Obviously they want capable ones, but if in the long run the person doesn't fit, it's easy to replace them.

I keep wondering how I would have fared in my temp roles if I'd had to interview for them. Would I have been chosen? Or would they see me the same way I've been seen in the 3 months' worth of interviews... good, potentially the right candidate, but at the last second, not quite good enough? Would I even be getting temp roles if I had to interview for them? See, when I think like that I get a little scared, as all the evidence is pointing to a no. Which begs the question - what is that I do in my second interview that puts them off? Or is it not what I do, but simply who I am.... an even more harrowing thought.

I suppose it's not a very good thing to sit and analyse like this. They have their reasons, and I hope they will forward them on to my agency so they can help me next time, but let's be honest, how truthful are they going to be? Maybe they just didn't like me. Would they say so, or would they cover it up with "she doesn't have enough experience in blah blah blah (hard to swallow in this particular situation, as I've done everything on their list).

My biggest problem is the slow draining of my confidence. I can still remember how I felt after my first interview for a perm position a few months ago. I was so shocked when they said no. Like, how could they possibly not want me? With each subsequent rejection, another part of me stops believing in myself, and becomes more resigned to the fact of it. I know this is no-one's fault but mine.... I have to be strong and competitive enough to fight for what I want and believe in my potential no matter how many knock-backs I get. It's just difficult.

Ok. I'm not going to let this one get to me, I'm going to take it on the chin and not be upset. But I am going to say that I hate job-hunting in London, and going home is looking more attractive than ever right now. I won't do it; I'm not going to quit, but I'm allowed to hate it. And I do - very much. On the bright side, it's the first time I haven't cried. :-) There's a spark left in me yet.... a little dull at the moment maybe, but definitely there.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Spending My Time

I've been pondering for a while now this whole blogging communuity business. Don't worry, this is hardly going to be a philosophical dissection of the minds of bloggers as I see them.... I'm not usually given to posts like that.

I just wander where everyone finds the time!!!! I love logging onto my pc in the morning at work, surfing the blogs I regularly read and seeing what everyone has been doing / thinking / feeling. However, when I make a concerted effort to read all my favourite blogs, comment on each one and then sign up to receive follow-up comments so I can continue the conversation, I find that half my work day disappears alarmingly quickly and I am scrambling to get things done later in the afternoon.

Let me state here that I am a multi-tasking expert: I am a team PA and I used to be a production co-ordinator, and the only way to truly impress in these jobs is to co-ordinate diaries / shoot schedules with one hand, whilst holding a phone to each ear with the other and typing with your foot - oh, and making a round of coffee for clients with sheer willpower.

But when it comes to my cyber-friends in the blog world, I am easily distracted from the task at hand by the post that So-and-so has just written about his/her crazy housemate / day at work / sexual experience and the barrage of criticisms, opinions and affirmations that flow from far and wide as everyone else jumps on the bandwagon. I love it, I really do.... I have my own special group of anonymous "friends" that none of my real friends know. They do, however, take up a lot of my time, which I suppose is par for the course if we're talking friends on any level here, even anonymous ones.

Does anyone else have the same problem? Blogging is as fabulous as it is time consuming, n'est-ce pas?

Monday, 12 November 2007


It's a merry Monday morning, and I have butterflies in my stomach. Today is the day I am supposed to find out about the TV Network job. I just spoke to my agent, and she said she's going to call them in an hour and see if they've made a decision. I won't be surprised if they haven't, as it took them a week to get back to us about second interviews.

I was hoping I would still be blase about this now that crunch time is here, but I've discovered I'm human after all (as if I had any doubts) and I really want to get it, and I will be pretty bummed if I don't. I guess the thing that's different this time round is I know I did all I could do, and I'm proud of the way I handled the whole process. If they don't pick me, it won't be because they doubt my ability to do the job well, or because they don't like me. It will be simply because they liked the other girl more, or felt that she would fit better personality-wise with the rest of the team. Basically, I won't be passed up for this job due to any shortcomings; but I might be if the other candidate had that little something extra that made them go "wow!". And that I can live with.

I hope if it's a no that I get the answer tomorrow, though..... I'm very emotional today for some reason, and feel permanently on the edge of tears even though nothing's happened yet. Bloody hormones *sigh* I was walking from the station to work this morning, annd "May It Be" by Enya came on my mp3 player, and it struck me how it's perfect funeral song, and it would be nice to play it at the funeral of one of my friends if they had to die - and before I knew what was happening, I was balling my eyes out in the middle of the street. Ja, ek se maar niks nie.

The weekend was great. G-Days and La Poo came over on Friday night, and the girls watched reality show Dirty Dancing: Time of Your Life, where couples recreate the iconic scenes from the movie and then have dance-offs in pairs, while the guys drank beer and made sarcastic comments about the show, causing us to turn the TV up very loud.

On Saturday we went to the last Friendz boat party of the season. Neutrino was playing a set, so we went along for support but also because we've really fallen in love with these parties. Friendz is a South African party promoter in London, and they're still quite small, so their followers all regularly attend their events and everybody knows everybody else. Also, most are South African, so it's a little like a slice of Cape Town in London. It was an absolute cracker of a party, my only complaint is that it went way too quickly! We left Temple Pier at 3pm and docked again at 9pm. Then everyone came back to ours for the after party. Things get a bit blurry round about there, but we ended up going to bed at 3:30am, and spent most of Sunday wandering around in a bit of a daze.

This afternoon my company has a compulsory staff seminar entitled 2012 Olympic Games Celebration. Obviously we are involved in the work leading up to the Games, and this is the opportunity for staff to get "an update on all aspects of our work in relation to the 2012 Games and Legacy." This will be followed by drinks to celebrate the milestones we have already achieved. Can I can a snore snore snore? I am so not going to this. Have invented an interview with a phantom agency, when in reality I will be leaving early and going to grab a table at Wagamamma, where Shoes will join me for an early supper before we see Beowulf at the IMAX. I know, I should get a slap on the wrist, but there is a reason why I don't want to stay in my job.... I am not at all interested in what my company does! It's not even the fun part of organising the Olympics, it's the drudgery that comes with getting London ready for the masses descending on it. I'm afraid I feel no guilt for this one; in fact, it makes for a great start to my week. :-)

Friday, 9 November 2007

Time To Shine?

So yesterday I went for my second interview with the TV Network. I met with the same HR Manager I'd seen before, and the Head of the Planning team, along with his "Number 2", as he referred to him. I'm still not certain, but I get the same impression that it's between myself and one other girl.

How do I think it went? Ok, I guess. There was nothing that I would do differently if I had to go back and do it all over again, but there wasn't an overwhelming sense of "Yes, you rocked that interview!" I liked both guys, answered the questions well (or so I think), and shared a few laughs with them. I did all the things you're supposed to do. I just didn't walk out of there feeling anything, other than relief that it was over. For those who have been following the drama of my job search, you'll know if there's one thing I can count on, it's that my post-interview feelings have absolutely nothing to do with the eventual outcome, so in this case it could be a blessing in disguise.

I did ok. Would I give the job to someone who did just ok? No. I can only hope I'm wrong, but this time I'm really prepared for the worst.

I should get the call today to find out if I got it, and I'm not really even tense or excited. It's almost like I've already said goodbye to this one, which would obviously make a nice surprise if I get it. I think subcosciously I am telling myself to feel negative no matter what the situation, as it's far easier to deal with if you believe you weren't really in with a chance anyway. I recognize this as a not very healthy attitude, but it's sort of out of my control at the moment.

I will of course update you later with any news.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Until It Sleeps

How strange - this morning I've come a little later that usual into the office, and there is almost no-one here. Immediately I want to do things I'm not supposed to do.... not that I don't do them anyway, but my pleasure in browsing on Ebay or reading my daily tabs increases exponentially when there's no likelihood of getting caught.

I've really been struggling to sleep the last few nights, and I feel tired all the time. After 7 years together, Shoes and I seem to have reached a stalemate in our sleeping pattern to which neither of us can see an end. The problem lies in that I am naturally a very light sleeper, while he could sleep through an atomic bomb provided he was already passed out when it hit. When we first met, he was living with his best friend, and neither or them could sleep unless the radio was on. In addition, noise from house appliances, dripping taps and ticking clocks presented no problems for them at all, while for me they still represent a slow and painful torture.

I need total silence and total darkness in order to fall asleep, and then the same to stay that way, preferably with a constant temperature. I imagine I was one of those babies who fought tooth and nail upon leaving the womb.

Recently, Shoes has begun to snore. Not big, chainsaw-like growls, but gentle, nasal breathing which starts off as a deep sigh and progresses to a slight whistle at the end. Both of us are guilty of chainsaw snoring when pissed, and I've always been able to tell how tired Shoes is by his breathing pattern. When he's getting enough sleep, he's quiet and when he's fatigued, he snores. Now though, he's snoring with increased regularity for no apparent reason.

My nights have begun to go like this:

11:00pm - Shoes and I get into bed.
11:20pm - We finally stop talking/fighting over pillows/getting up to tend to things we've forgotten, such as setting the alarm.
11:27pm - Shoes' breathing deepens. I lie awake listening to annoying songs playing in my head.
11:31pm - Shoes is clearly asleep. I contemplate how long it will take me to fall asleep tonight, while listening out for the first snore.
11:32pm - The first snore cuts through the silence.
11:33pm - I kick Shoes.
11:34pm - Shoes rolls over and groans. Silence ensues.
11:36pm - Shoes lets out another contented snore.
11:37pm - I turn over and glare ferociously at his back.
11:38pm - Shoes asks me to please stop glaring at him, as he's trying to be quiet and it's not his fault if he snores (yes, he really can sense my ire with his back to me).
11:40pm - Another snore pierces the tension in the air.
11:41pm - Followed by another.
11:42pm - I get up to go the loo, and make as much noise as I possibly can.
11:43pm - I come back, and all is quiet. I get back into bed.
11:46pm - A fresh snore breaks out.
11:47pm - I grab my pillows and the extra blanket and exit the room in a huff.
11:49pm - I make a bed on the couch and settle down to sleep.
11:51pm - The tap drips.
11:53pm - The freezer motor turns on.
11:59pm - I get up to fetch a glass of water to cool my mouth, which is dry with rage and exhaustion.
12:00am - I get back onto the couch.
12:20am - I wake with a start; I am trying to turn over on the couch, but there is no space and I nearly smother myself with a pillow. I turn back to the position I started in.
12:35am - I am just drifting off to sleep. Aaaaaah.....
12:36am - The chavs across the block start shouting.
12:37am - I get up to close the door all the way.
12:57am - I wake up, covered from head to toe in sweat from the heat building up in the airless lounge.
01:01am - I give up, collect my pillows and go back to the bedroom.
01:02am - Shoes in sleeping soundly in complete silence.
01:03am - I get back into bed and wait a further half hour for my body to relax from the night's events before I finally fall asleep.

No wonder I'm a little cranky before my coffee!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

1, 2 Step

This morning I got the call I've been waiting for.... I have a second interview with the TV Network on Thursday! I don't know exactly how many other people I'm up against, but I know my agency sent through three candidates, and they want only two back for the second round. So this is good news, but I think I'm more nervous than excited this time. So many close calls.... will this finally be my time? I really hope so.

I just had a cackling fit sitting here at my desk, thinking about the guards at Windsor Castle on Sunday. They are Shoes' and my new favourite things. They march around in teams of 4, dressed in their impossibly old-fashioned grey coats with their pirate-ship hats, and they have little tappers on the heels of their shoes so their clickety-clacks echo through the grounds. We followed them around for a while; it seems people can't help but do this. The majority of visitors turn into giggling monkeys when they come into contact with the guards, marching along behind them and imitating their swinging-arm strides, or attempting to distract them from their business of looking solemn and important. It was quite funny watching human beings treat them as if they were some exotic (and clearly not very well respected) animals in a zoo - ourselves included. Shoes and I were in fits of giggles as we trailed them with our camera, taking video footage of their sweaty, pained looking faces and the Japanese tourists shoving cameras in them.

We were trying to figure out how they know when their shift is over. They're not allowed to look at their watches, or indeed anywhere except straight ahead, so we decided they must have learnt to tell the time by the sun. Imagine that.... you need a piss so incredibly badly, but you can't go and you have no idea how many hours of marching you have left to do before you can relieve yourself. My guess is that they sign up for the job expecting a bit of prestige and perhaps to meet Her Madge the Queen, and spend the rest of their years thinking up terrorist plots to eradicate all tourists.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Liverbreak Hotel

What a great weekend! We arrived at the hotel on Saturday morning with few delays - the only major issue being that the sat-nav mistakenly told us we'd reached our destination whilst we were still driving down the highway. No matter, a bunch of bright young things like ourselves managed to work out that we had to turn off into the village of Marlow, where the Crown Plaza was located. The trip itself was also fun; we carpooled with Shoes' colleague The Photographer and his wife, The Giggler, and the four of us got on famously, despite the fact that they're Australian! Maybe that's because we can finally lord it over them in this year's sporting results.

On arrival, we checked in and the employees went straight into a 2 hour meeting, leaving the WAGS to take full advantage of the hotel facilities. Shoes and I did get a bit shafted with the rooms though. Everyone else had rooms upstairs, with king size beds and baths resembling swimming pools. We got the disabled room right by the stairwell; the room itself was substantially smaller (how does that make sense if it's for a person in a wheelchair?), the bed was only a double and there was a seat in the rather open plan shower, with assistance alarms everywhere. Of course, the first thing we did was pull a string and set one off whilst trying to find the bathroom lights. We're still a little confused as to why we got that room; we could definitely be classed as impaired when we're pissed, but I think disabled is pushing it a bit.

No matter though, as when the boys left for their meeting, The Giggler and I tried our hand at being Ladies of Leisure, aka Ladies who Lunch, and spent the next couple of hours drinking champagne in the jacuzzi. The company opened an unrestricted tab at the bar, and we were allowed to have as much as we wanted as many times as we wanted. Can you smell the lust for alcohol? We could. We found another WAG, EnglishRose, on our journey to the Good Life, and the three of us plotted and planned ways to make our husbands/boyfriends very rich so we could make this a permanent thing. After we'd discussed everything from having babies (there were several Chinese babies who we all went a bit mental over) to marrying a sugar daddy and bumping him off to keep us in a lifetime's supply of champagne, it was time to join the guys for a 3 course lunch.

Then it was back to the bar for more drinks, and watching the guys play Robot Wars, their elected team building activity for the day. It was actually less team building and more "I am going to fucking whip your ass!" as the game involved four teams of two each controlling an armour plated car, with the goal being who could flip the others upside down the most. After some serious competition and some even more serious threats (Director: I will fire anyone who beats me!), the game was over and the party began.

Shoes and I popped into the village of Marlow to buy him some shoes for the dinner, as he'd forgotten his at home and only had takkies. It's a really gorgeous little place, in fact, it has been voted the best kept village in Buckinghamshire. It's light years away from London, with it's open spaces, fresh country air and beautiful clean streets. If I ever had to stay in the UK permanently, I could see myself living there.

The dinner was excellent; a three course meal of prawn and sweet pea risotto (which I passed on - I have a pea phobia and find it difficult to even look at them), roast saddle of lamb and champagne and strawberries torte, accompanied by lots of wine and baskets of fresh rolls. We even had our own caricaturist, who went from table to table drawing as many people as she could in the 2 hours. Shoes and I each got one done. I'm quite proud of it; even with the exaggerated features, I still look quite fetching! Shoes looks like a seedy car-salesman. After dinner, we had a fireworks display organised by the company, and hot toddies on the terrace (think med lemon laced with cheap whisky, best avoided if you don't want to pull nasty faces in public).

By that stage, most people were well pissed already, and everyone headed into the bar for some gross abuse of the company tab. Shoes and I retired at about 12:30am; he had to drag me away from an intense conversation with Bill, the company's oldest and most interesting member. He is possibly the most knowledgeable person on the planet, and a great story teller to boot, but I don't think Shoes was too impressed when I asked if we could take him home with us. Bill, on the other hand, looked quite delighted. It was good we went to bed when we did, as I think we just escaped the part where people start doing things they seriously regret on Monday morning. The tab stayed open til 4am, when the hotel staff had to kick out the die-hards and deny them further intoxicants.

There was not one single person who didn't approach the breakfast table with a obvious hangover the next morning - well, except for The Photographer and some of the other Asians who don't drink. Some didn't even make an appearance at all, leaving us wondering exactly what went down as the sun came up. Breakfast was a bit of a chore, as much as we wanted to eat, none of us really felt well enough to take full advantage of the massive spread.

On our way back, we stopped at Windsor Castle, paid a whopping £15 each entrance fee, and proceeded to spend the next 2 hours checking out how the Queen lives. Suffice it to say that I would now quite like to be a queen, and if I was William or Harry, I wouldn't bother going out to the clubs in Mayfair - I'd simply entertain in my castle. It's absolutely stunning - grand and sumptuous like in books of tales about ancient kings and queens.

We ended off a great but rather unrelaxing weekend with our bums glued to the couch, watching X Factor and Tsotsi. I enjoyed myself immensely, but can't help feeling I was robbed of my down time. I'm going to have to do some serious lazing about over the course of this week.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Hotel Buckinghamshire!

Still waiting to hear about the job.... they are really taking their time in making a decision. A Witch from a different Coven phoned me yesterday though, with a similar role for the same TV Network, but in a different department. This will hopefully increase my chances of getting in there, fingers crossed. Either way, it's nice that there's a bit of activity going on in my job search.
Last night I joined the rest of my team at the pub to raise our glasses in farewell to one of our most flamboyant members. That was the 3rd night in a row that I've been out this week, and after my shenanigans on Wednesday, I couldn't face either a late night or alcohol, and left at 7:30pm after just one diet coke. I must be getting old.

Shoes and I just chilled in front of the pc for the rest of the evening, buying mobile phone covers on Ebay and watching 24. I feel like I need another whole week of that... well, maybe not the Ebay part, I've been going a bit mad on it lately and I have about 7 items of clothing coming in the post. Of course, I'm having them all sent to my work address and I've customised My Ebay so my sins are all well hidden. Knowing my luck, my boyfriend, who up til now has always been completely uninterested in blogging, will choose today to start reading mine. If I don't post on Monday you know I've been locked in a closet and he's thrown away the key.

This weekend we are off to Shoes' Company Weekend Away. I am rather exaggeratedly excited about this. The 20-25 odd employees and their partners (and kids, I believe) are all driving up to The Crown Plaza in Buckinghamshire tomorrow morning for a day and night in this luxury hotel. Part of my ribald enthusiasm stems from the fact that this will be the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed at, and I have these visions of lolling around on the bed in a terrycloth robe ordering room service, a la Julia Roberts in Pretty Women (except without the pre-requisite pimping out of my body). I can see myself taking long leisurely laps in the hotel pool followed by a sauna session and a facial while Shoes and his team spend the afternoon building rafts or some other inane team bonding exercise.

Either that, or I will join the other wives and girlfriends in the hotel lounge and drink cocktails whilst admiring their babies. This part I think might actually happen, as I know for a fact that at least two wives will have their little tykes in attendence, and both just happen to be Chinese. If there's one type of baby I adore above all others, it's the little Chinese ones, with their perfect peachy skin, jet black hair and slanty eyes. They make me want to grab them and squeeze them really hard - not in a you're-a-child-abuser-and-you-should-be-locked-up kind of way, but just because I can't think of any other way to express my appreciation at how squidgy they are. I will probably keep this all to myself though; no sense in alienating these women right off the bat. Also, I'd prefer not to be seen as some kind of Asian people stalker.

We're picking up our car from London city Airport tonight - it feels like we're going on holiday!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Wannabe Fag-Hag (GBFriendship Never Ends)

Ohhhhh, I'm feeling rough today. I took the day off work yesterday to go to an RSPCA microchipping course, and ended up in a pub until late with my neighbour and fellow chipper, New Gay Best Friend (GBF), downing an unmentionable number of large glasses of cheap white wine. Eeewwww.

It started out innocently enough, as it always does. GBF and I met at a chipping event a few weeks ago, and decided to do this course together so we could actually do the microchipping of animals instead of only handling the paperwork. For those who don't know, microchipping is the process of inserting an electronic chip the size of a grain of rice into the skin between an animal's shoulder blades for identification purposes. Each chip has a unique number which is logged into a database and matched with the owner's name and contact details. If someone's pet gets lost or stolen and is returned to a local vet, the vet can scan the animal for a chip and reunite pet with owner in a matter of minutes.

I've been volunteering with the RSPCA for about 8 months now, mostly helping out at their free chipping events, and GBF has just recently joined to get as much experience as possible for his business that he's opening up - he is studying to be a Dog Adviser and Psychologist. We discovered on that event that we live practically next door to each other, and that both our boyfriends share the same first name. We have a lot in common, including a great passion for animals and shoes.

We both approached this chipping course with more than a little trepidation, as although it looks very easy - the process is exactly the same as getting your ear pierced - it's a little nerve-wracking when you're the one holding the gun and the animal is squirming and yelping like it's about to be murdered. I went first with a kitten, which was actually really easy, as they're so small it's easy to hold them still. GBF went next with a crazy half feral cat that tried to scratch his eyes out, but he managed it and neither of us killed either of the two animals we chipped. In fact, it's actually much harder to restrain the cats than it is to chip them. Only one girl out of the 15 of us on the course got bitten, and it was just a surface scratch - the dog responsible was immediately muzzled for the remainder of the procedure.

After we were finished, GBF and I decided we needed a drink, so we headed back to London and to our local pub, where "a couple of drinks" quickly got out of hand, and my attempts to leave and go to gym (yeah right) were repeatedly thwarted by mysterious glasses of wine that kept appearing on the table in front of me. We decided it would be a good idea for me to meet GBF's husband, who rocked up to find the two of us quite pissed already and talking over each other at great volume as we recounted the events of the day. GBF is the girl in the relationship, and eventually I think the two of us got too much for Husband, who retreated to the safety of another sane patron's company while GBF and I had a hug-fest and I declared my life-long ambition to be a fag-hag, which he embraced wholeheartedly. While we were promising to be each other's gay/straight best friend forever and planning on when next we were going shoe shopping on Oxford Street, I decided it would be a great idea to take them home and introduce them to my housemates.

Cue utter confusion at home as I waltzed through the door with 2 drunk gay men and introduced them as my new best friends. Later I sulked because I thought they'd been rude to my new pals, but looking back it was probably just bewilderment - not that they're gay, but that we were all rather pissed and loud and I have only just met them! Anyway, still waiting to hear from GBF this morning, I hope I didn't offend him with the series of drunken texts I sent him after he'd gone home. I usually don't text when I'm pissed for a reason, but oh dear, I broke my rules last night and I wouldn't be surprised if he thinks I've lost the plot.

Still waiting to hear about the job.... Agency Witch called yesterday to say they liked all three candidates and were still deciding.