Friday, 25 January 2008

Take Me To The Skies Above

Right guys, I'm off in half an hour, so it's goodbye from me for a few weeks... at least the first two, as I'm going to be outside and as far away from computers, tv and phones as possible. I figure once everyone else has flown back to London and I am languishing on the beach, waiting for my passport, I might consider posting.

Hope you have a great couple of weeks without me, I look forward to catching up on your lives on my return.


Thursday, 24 January 2008

Alright Now

Everybody say it with me: aaaaaaaaaaaah. Now exhale deeply, and relax. I can promise that reading my blog will no longer be an exercise in tension building (at least, until the next travel drama, because you know I am cursed).

I have my emergency travel certificate in hand, the airline is changing Shoes' name to the correct order (at a cost of £200 to me, but never mind), and we are both flying home tomorrow for what is now no longer a holiday, but a journey to touch base with the people we used to be before stress and panic turned us into vacant zombies. I imagine you might be nearly as relieved as I am!

Although I'm not completely clear of the potential for more drama - I still need to organise my passport in 3 weeks when I get home - it certainly seems like the worst is over (touch wood - no, hug a tree!). Even the fact that the last two weeks have cost us an extra £1000 in flight changes, re-issuing travel documents and replacing everything I lost, it can't dampen our spirits (ok, not too much anyway). I think we hold the record for the world's most expensive trip home. Although, to be fair, some people actually miss their flights and have to buy brand new tickets - but that would cost the same as what we've had to fork out. I suppose it could always be worse....Shoes' passport could have been in my bag too!

I am finally starting to unwind this nauseating knot of dread in my stomach, and relax my shoulders enough to sit up straight, instead of hunched over in anticipation of the next violent blow.

Things I have learnt in the last two weeks:

1. Never let your passport leave the house unless you are going to the airport
2. If you need to transfer money home, feck the activating of another online account to get free transfers and good rates - just use your regular one and pay the £7 charge
3. Do not go to a pub and NOT get drunk - this is an invitation for bad things to happen because you are going against tradition
4. Marry a British citizen (or anyone else with an EU passport) and ditch your SA passport because....
5. SA passports are worth less than the Zimbabwean dollar, and harder to obtain than the Kruger Rand
6. When in doubt, cry. Bucketloads. With gigantic heaving sobs. If this does not get you special treatment, rest assured that nothing else will
7. Embassy people can be nice. Sometimes.
8. There is always someone at the Embassy with a worse story than you, and you will hate them as they will take the attention away from your catastrophe
9. If there's a problem with your boyfriend's ticket, tell him. If you don't, it will result in much ranting and shouting and errant blame-placing.
10. Thabo Mbeki's fraudulent government has personally seen to it that getting home from the UK after losing your passport is like trying to bring down the Third Reich - everyone runs around in circles making a huge flap, but it takes a really long time before anything constructive is done

And with those important life lessons learnt, I shall sit back and prepare for a day of dreaming about Cape Town, and how I'm going to decide between my red and pink bikinis for my first day on the beach.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Panic At The Desk-o

I've been up to my eyeballs in stress over this whole passport thing, and although the world has moved on to the next crisis as usual - how's Heath Ledger's shock death yesterday? - I am struggling to think about much else, which is obviously evident in my posting. Also in my sleeping patterns - I'm on about 5 hours a night at the mo, and the sleep I am getting is far from restful. Contrary to my determined positivity last week, this week I am nervous and fidgety. I'm supposed to fly in two days, and the realisation that everything is not sorted enough yet for me to do so is making me jumpy. Unfortunately, I now cannot stop myself from picturing the worst case scenario in my head. I decided last night that I would make a concerted effort today to post about something other than CT and my passport, but before I do, I must relate the latest travel disaster. I haven't told ANYONE about this, for two reasons: a) everyone has enough on their plates with regards to the panic my passport situation brought on and b) I'm was hoping that by not mentioning it, it wouldn't be real. Yes I know, it doesn't help to behave like an ostrich, but I don't know if my heart can take any more.

The travel agent got Shoes' name wrong when booking the ticket. Instead of writing Shoes (Surname), she wrote (Surname) Shoes. Since his surname can also be a first name, she must have believed it to be correct. So basically, from what I understand, if we had to go to the airport today with the booking as it stands, they would not let him on the plane because his passport has a different name to what they have in their system. I can hardly believe this nightmare is happening. I am currently in frantic negotiations with the travel agency to put it right, and now they are mumbling about costs involved to change the name... as if we have not been bled dry already with this whole nightmare. Right now though, I just need Shoes to be able to get on that plane, and I'd pay anything. They're not stupid, they know this.

I can't tell Shoes. I just can't make this any worse for him than it already has been. I feel like everything is my fault, even though I know this is not true and it is silly to blame myself. But the thing is, all this drama centres around me, and when you're the axl and everyone else is the spokes turning around you, you can't help but feel responsible. It has to be ok though, that's what I keep telling myself. The travel agent said they would make sure he gets on the plane. I am hanging onto that for dear life, seriously, if this is a cliff and I am dangling by my fingernails, there is no fucking way I'm falling off.

Ok, so moving on to other things. Because I feel I might lose the plot if I don't talk about something else.

On Saturday night, we all went to Ruby Blue to celebrate Scarf's 21st birthday - it's actually in 2 weeks, but she'll (we'll?) be in CT, so this was her London party. It was a great night all in all, and although Scarf got pretty drunk, she held it together well considering, and there was no major drama at the end, as there so often is with us. I spent the first half of the evening chatting with Phillygirl and Nix. Philly is over in London for 2 weeks on business, and she agreed to meet me at Ruby's as my potential departure for CT seriously limited our opportunity to hook up. I haven't seen either of them since school, so it was a fascinating night catching up on what they've been doing for the past 10 years. Ok, I do know a lot of what Philly has been doing, since we stay up to date with each other's lives through our blogs. Our conversation was quite funny, as I'd introduce her to Shoes by saying: And this is (Shoes' real name) aka Shoes; and she'd say to me: .... and that was when I hooked up with (The Lying Pilot's real name), aka The Lying Pilot. At one point I introduced her to a couple of people by real names only, and she was like, no, what are their blog names!?!?!

Was great to see that they're both doing well, even though our paths have taken quite different courses over the years. Philly mentioned in her blog that it made her sit back and take stock of her life up til now, and compare herself with Nix and I. I have to admit I was doing exactly the same thing. You can't help but wonder what your life would be like now if you chose someone else's path instead of your own. Each of them have certain experiences I envy, and wish I was in the same position. But then again, I have things they don't have too, and I know how much I appreciate them. I think we all came to the same conclusion - we are all mostly happy on the paths that we've taken, but it's definitely healthy to scrutinise oneself every now and then. Would have loved more time to meet up with Philly again, but circumstances hopefully won't allow for it... I know how that sounds, but it does make sense!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Livin' On A Prayer

It's Monday now, and I'm supposed to fly this Friday. I had a call from the Embassy on Saturday - I nearly fell off my chair to find a government related business actually open and advertising it on a Saturday, but anyway - and spoke to a woman by the name of Teresa, who said there was one form missing from my application. She said I could pop in whenever it was convenient (but obviously the earlier the better) and fill it out without making an appointment or bundu-bashing my way through any other lines of red tape.

So I did that this morning, and she confirmed that everything is now correct and good to go - we are just waiting on Home Affairs in SA to confirm I am who I say I am, and once they do, my certificate will be issued. She seemed quite confident that I will have it before Friday, provided HA doesn't make one of their legendary fuck-ups and accuse me of being an identity thief or worse.

As for my plans once I get to the other side; things are a little more complicated than they were last week. I am now going to have to apply through the official emergency channels, which means I will have to stay in SA for 3 weeks as opposed to 2, assuming they accept my case as an emergency. If they don't, I will be stuck there for 6 weeks. Shoes' cousin's contact for a passport in 2 weeks fell through. I therefore have to factor the cost of a flight change into my plans as well as a week's extra leave, which means I will be unable to go to my cousin's wedding at the end of this year.

I guess at the end of the day, this was never going to happen without cost, both financial and otherwise.

To be honest, even though I'm a bit panicky about our skyrocketing debt and am already regretting not seeing my first cousin get married, I want to go home so much that everything else seems trivial in comparison.

Finally though, it seems like I will probably be flying on Friday, rather than possibly with a healthy dose of longing. I'm not breaking out the champagne just yet - I'm going to wait until I have that Golden Ticket (aka Emergency Travel Certificate) in my hand, and then down a whole bottle! 4 days of anticipation to go, 4 nights of restless sleep and disturbing dreams. 3 weeks of putting myself back together at the end? I hope so.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Right Here Waiting

It's Thursday - exactly a week since my ill-fated trip to the pub that sparked off a chain of events that put both my upcoming holiday and my sanity in jeopardy.

Today I'm feeling a little jittery, but ultimately positive and still hopeful. A few good things have happened since my last post, and I do have every reason to believe that going home is a strong possibility - maybe even a probability. I have been in touch with Shoes' cousin, who has a contact that can organise a full SA passport in 2 weeks. It's a full, legitimate passport, done by people who have contacts inside Home Affairs. Whether or not the fast tracking is above board, I don't really care, and I'm sure it's not as it costs 5 times what a normal passport costs. However, Shoes cousin used these people when he lost his passport recently, and it worked perfectly for him. If I go and apply on my first morning in Jozi, we might even be able to get it before we're due to fly back on Sunday 10 Feb, which would save us astronomical costs in flight changes. Then, a guy at my work has a friend who used to work in Immigration over here in the UK. He's worked both in British Embassies across the world and at Passport Control at the airports. He has confirmed to me that I will be able to re-enter the UK with a new SA passport sans visa (I can't afford to wait the extra 3 weeks in would take for a visa application to be processed in SA), provided I bring all the supporting documents with me to back up my story. So, copies of my old passport and visa, the police report, proof of employment and address in the UK, etc.

So that settles things with regards to my return from SA to the UK. Now, the only thing up in the air is my passage from here to SA. I've applied for my emergency travel certificate - I had to do it by post, so I posted it off on Monday - and it is supposed to take 5 days from when they receive it. The thing that is stressing me is that I can't track its progress. What if they don't open my envelope straight away? What if some ass is having a bad day and decides he doesn't feel like opening ANY of the posted applications today? What if they're on a go slow, which we all know is the case in SA Government departments, and they only get cracking on it today or tomorrow? I only have 6 working days left before we fly, and that's counting today. They need 5, but that's once it has been processed and sent off for approval. It's so tight it doesn't bear thinking about, so of course it is all I can think about.

I've also been advised that they may or may not contact me when its ready, so to be on the safe side I should go in every day from Tuesday and ask if its there (efficiency, thy name is South Africa). Because I couldn't see anyone to check over my application, the other thing haunting me is what if I did something wrong? I followed all instructions, submitted all documents, but I also know these people (far better than any one person should know them), and I know how petty they can be.

The only thing that might push this through for me is that my Great Uncle died on Monday morning, and I was able to submit his death certificate along with my application. Since they only class serious illness or death as a true emergency situation, it may be my saving grace, as callous as that sounds.

Part of me wants this week to go really slowly to give them that extra time to get everything sorted, and the other part just wants it to be over so I know my fate. It's really hard to accept that I have done everything I can, and that it's now in someone else's hands.

However, I am staying strong and imagining myself back with my family and doing all the awesome things we have planned for our trip. I can feel the sand between my toes, smell the ocean breeze and suntan lotion, hear the sounds of my family getting up in the morning and going about their day.... it's everything, and if this was decided on will alone, I would be able to confirm this second that I'm going!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The Agony and (hopefully in the near future) The Ecstasy

I have't written for a few days, cos I've been dealing with a personal crisis and instead of blogging, I've been desperately e-mailing friends and family. I thought about cutting and pasting the main gist of those e-mails here, since I'm not really all that keen on going through it all over again, but I suppose that sort of defeats the purpose of a blog, doesn't it? This is my space to write whatever I want to write, so if I don't feel like getting into it in depth, I don't have to.

So I'll be brief. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that whenever my group of friends and I try to travel, we encounter disaster of some sort. Expired passports, lost passports, nearly missed flights, not getting visas in time - you name it, it happens to us. And our travelling group is only 7 strong - I hate to think what it would be like if we tried to co-ordinate a group of 15 of us to take a trip together.

Anyway, this time it is me - again - and it is my passport that got stolen along with my handbag on Thursday night last week. I was at the pub with my new workmates. I went because I thought it would be rude not to go, but since there were only a couple of them there, and I'm on detox (well, I was - after that I had a drink), I wasn't really in the mood and it wasn't like it looked to be a majorly exciting night. After an hour, I decided to leave. Five minutes before that, an Indian man came up behind me and brushed my back with his coat. I turned to him and he said sorry, to which I replied no problem. My bag was on a ledge next to me - we'd all put our drinks and bags down there. He slung his coat over the ledge, and left shortly after, taking my bag with him. It happened only a few minutes before I decided to leave, but it was enough for him to get away with my bag and my life's contents that it contained. I remember thinking, you know what, this has never happened to me in SA. In fact, my friends and I have been victims of more crime over this side than in CT... but no matter, that's not the point.

To cut an exceedingly long story short, I am now waiting to see if the SA Embassy will a) issue me with an emergency travel certificate and b) if it will arrive in time for me to fly home next Friday. If I do get it, I would then have to apply for a fast tracked passport once I get to SA, as the certificate is like a one way ticket and I can't leave the country again on it. There is also the matter of my UK visa. If I do come right on all counts, and get my passport within 2 or 3 weeks, I can't afford to wait another 15 days for my visa to be restamped in my new passport. So I then have to fly back to the UK without a visa, and try to talk my way back in by providing proof of my life here.

All in all, it's an absolute nightmare, and feels very unfair, considering that this time last year, Shoes and my friends were all preparing to go to Turkey and I found out I couldn't go because my passport only had 5 months validity left in it instead of the pre-requisite 6. That time, everyone went to Turkey and left me behind in London. I am therefore having the most horrific sense of deja-vu as I plunge into this nightmare all over again, and am just trying to concentrate on the fact that it's not over yet, rather than allowing myself to imagine them all leaving for Cape Town while I wave goodbye from the station.

I haven't seen my family in a year and a half, and if my plans now fall through, I won't see them for another year. But I've managed despite the odds to remain mostly positive about it. I have to believe there is still hope for me to go. The alternative at the moment is something I don't really know how to deal with, so I'm just choosing to believe in miracles. I've prayed every night for that miracle, and I really believe if there's a way, it will be done. I've done everything I can.... now I just have to sit back and wait for God to do the rest!

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Taming Of The Shoe

I've had several people ask me to tell the story of Shoes' shenanigans on NYE, so I've decided to spill it.

Let it be known, before I start this story, that I had flu over new year's and had ONE drink the whole night - a glass of rather delicious punch, made by our cocktail barman for the night - Shoes himself. Since I then switched to juice and was completely sober, I am qualified to tell this story without any embellishing and/or making shit up. Shoes, however, cannot remember a damn thing, so to those who know him, if he disputes any of this information, ignore him - he was pissed.

The night started off well enough. We'd gotten everyone to chip in £10, and we bought £250 worth of spirits, mixers and other ingredients for cocktails. Shoes decided pretty early on that he was going to be barman, and indeed, his long island iced teas were very well received. His punch, made in collaboration with Scarf and a few others, was actually the best punch I have ever tasted, but was deceptively strong, owing to some bright spark pouring an entire bottle of bacardi into it AFTER it had been measured and made. However, since it tasted like a fruity and only slightly alcoholic summer cocktail, everyone was downing the stuff in record time. The first casualty of the evening was Mello's housemate Vix, who at only 10pm had locked herself in the bathroom and was calling for Ralph. The second was Mello's oldest friend Eric (she needs to get some new friends), who first of all spewed Problem Child-style all over the other bathroom, and then refused to own up to it when I went on the warpath demanding to know who it was. So Mello and I ended up cleaning it up (at least she had rubber gloves). Our good mate Eric then proceeded to keep drinking - yes people, this one's in the running for Rocket Scientist of the Year. At one point he came into the kitchen and tried to ask me where he could find some coke (a cola), but it came out as "Shyoo know wheresh crrrk?" I assume he eventually found it, and went to sit on the stairs (inside) with his cocktail. Shortly afterwards, Mello brought him a glass of water and managed to exchange his drinks - I doubt he even noticed. As she sat there conversing with him - well ok, she was conversing, he was swaying and staring into the distance - he suddenly picked up his pint glass of water and threw up into it. Since there was already water in there, the puke cascaded over the edge and onto the carpet. So, just to recap, that's now the bathroom and the stairs that have come under siege.

The next area of the house to fall was the lounge. This happened at midnight, when Justin, another of Mello's friends (sheesh), decided that instead of drinking his champagne, it would be more fun to shake it and spray it Formula One-style all over the guests. And the walls. And the ceiling. On seeing this, Neutrino obviously thought this was the Idea of the Decade, and followed suit. Despite his denials, we have a photo of him caught red-handed, shaking up his bottle of champers in readiness for a shower. OJ was busy trying to pour his own champers, but his attempt was foiled by a drunken Shoes, who bounded over and tried to grab the bottle from OJ, evidently intent on getting in on the action. OJ resisted, there was a brief tussle, and the bottle fell to the floor and emptied itself all over the carpet. During all this, Mello and I were standing open-mouthed in shock, unable to move at the surreal sight of people actually spraying champers inside the house. And we haven't even gotten to Shoes story yet.

Fast forward an hour and a half - 1:25am. It's time to go. Mello, previously one of the most pissed, is now sober as the cold reality of the mess that used to be her house sinks in. I am cleaning up as much as I can, but the scrubbing of walls and floors has to be left for when everyone has vacated the premises. All that is left is for everyone to say their goodbyes and go home. Everyone, that is, except Shoes. Now let me give you a bit of background here. When Shoes gets really pissed, which is not that often, he does one of two things. Either he is completely broken, and stumbles around trying to sleep wherever he can find a place to park his posterior at that particular time, or he appears to drink himself sober. This last is when he is at his most pissed. He doesn't slur, he doesn't get aggressive, he doesn't puke - in fact, if you walked into the room at this stage, you'd be forgiven for believing that he is sober and just being difficult. However, he is not sober - far from it. He is in fact so pissed, that all his senses leave him, and he makes the most bizarre and inexplicable decisions. In this case, he was refusing to leave. He literally planted his feet apart in Mello's kitchen, stood with arms akimbo and proclaimed his intent to stay at Mello's house all night. The problem is, sober though he may seem, it is absolutely impossible to reason with him when he gets like this. He cannot see reason, which in this case is that Mello wanted to go to sleep, and was basically kicking everyone out. No matter to Shoes that his presence was no longer wanted - he was staying, and that was that. The trains were only running every half hour, and if we didn't leave in the next 10 minutes, we were going to miss it and have to wait for the next one. To cut a long story short, half an hour of begging, pleading, cajoling and finally raving made no difference - he was not going anywhere. Now during this episode, he spoke normally but was unable to process why we were trying to get him to leave. He looked alternately confused and then very hurt that Mello didn't want him to stay. Finally, I lost my temper completely and physically manhandled him out of the house. Howwever, I pulled him too hard and he fell over, causing exteme agitation on his part (fair enough). He got to his feet, made a beeline for the front door and ran back inside the house, eventually hiding out in the garden. 10 more minutes and I'm almost crying in frustration. I know I can't leave him, because I know he's not going to remember anything the next day, and if he wakes up in Mello's house in the morning with no idea what he's doing there, it will just be worse for him. Besides, Mello is understandably not having any of that!

Then he changes tack completely. He tells me he's been coming with me all along - he just wants one last pint. He proceeds to pour the pint and meekly follow me out the door, saying very merry and lengthy goodbyes to the remaining stragglers (gawkers) on his way out. We finally get to the station, and the train is delayed. On the hour long journey from Mello's house to ours, he talks. But he talks utter nonsense, in the most sober-sounding of tones. I am tired, annoyed and just a little pissed off, but it is not enough for him to talk at me... I must now converse with him. So I endure his ramblings (mostly about how he knows I don't really like him - this because he's managed to process the fact that I am exceedingly cross with him) with muttered responses, until we finally get to our station. During the last 5 minutes of the journey, he falls asleep, and when he wakes up he has graduated to the stumbling stage. He falls over twice on the way home, and nearly kills us both when he runs across the road without looking for cars. Finally I get him safely into bed, where he wakes up again and bends my ear for a further half hour, until I crack and put ear plugs in so I can't hear him.

The next morning, he wakes up looking very sheepish and fragile, and endures the traditional piss cat's horror of being told everything he did the night before.

I couldn't stay mad though, as I know how many times in the past I have done this to him. Hence, our current January detox. Shoes because he's put off getting pissed for a while, and me because I absolutely adored the "holier-than-thou" feeling of being the sober one while everyone else fell to pieces around me. I could definitely get used to this.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Culture Club

So I had my first brush with the paparazzi this morning - if only that was as exciting as it sounds ;-)

Alesha Dixon (from ex British girl band Mystique) was about to arrive at our office for an interview, and the paps were all gathered outside our front door and trying to talk their way inside (no dice) - apparently they were cold. Aaah, the hazards of the job. There were only about 15 of them; not nearly as crazy as when it's an A-lister, but I found it terribly exciting anyway - it doesn't take much to please me. Am trying to find a schedule of what's happening when so I can be prepared, and perhaps take my own sneaky pap photos - but only for my scrapbook, of course.

Things are getting busier, and I'm starting to learn a bit more of who's who, so I can function a little more indpendently than on Monday. My worst thing about starting a new job is having to ask questions every 5 minutes. I'm the kind of person who would rather struggle for two hours trying to find something out by myself than ask someone. This wouldn't be the case if I only needed to know things once or twice a day, but in the beginning, when everything is as foreign as flying pigs, I need to know things all the time, and I just hate bugging people. Not that people here aren't buggable - they are, very much so, and are very willing to help. Since it's more efficient to ask questions and be done with it, I am making myself do so, but I look forward to the time when I know as much as Sammy and can cruise on autopilot.

We have an hour and 15 minutes for lunch everyday (did I mention that media people tend to do everything they possibly can to get out of doing any real work while still running successful companies?), and so there's plenty of time to go shopping, visit local attatractions or indeed take a nap under your desk, should you so desire (no-one would bat an eyelid here). Today I went to visit the National Portait Gallery. Now, I should say here that I know absolutely nothing about art, and have almost zero interest in it. I understand why people enjoy making it, and how it's a form of expression that tells us a lot about cultures and eras, but beyond that I really couldn't give a shit. I blame my parents for this. As children, my sister and I were ferried away on the most wonderful camping trips all over South Africa. We had the best geographical and historical education on our country that any child could wish for - far beyond what they teach in schools. However, my folks neglected to include art in their educational syllabus, and we are therefore both pretty much ignoramuses when it comes to the finer things in life (with the exception of drinking expensive wine - we do that very well). But the National Portrait Gallery is a London Landmark, and I am trying to make a mission to visit such attractions just so I can say I did - not actually to infuse any sense of culture into my life. I'm slightly ashamed to say that most of the exhibits bored me to death, particularly the community art. There were, however, several photographic exhibitions, and those I could look at all day. I suppose it's the sense of reality that I appreciate. I adore losing myself in a good book, but I've never felt the same way about a painting or sculpture. The Princess Diana Photo exhibition was my favourite - she really was ethereally beautiful and the pictures are alternately classically gorgeous and haunting.

Tomorrow I might go to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, depending on whether or not there's something I may be interested in seeing. Or maybe I'll just go shopping......

Monday, 7 January 2008

A New Day Has Come

So, today is my first day in my new job! I'm sitting in a new office, surrounded by new faces I don't know, and just about the only thing I can do by myself is go to the loo, because if I try and go anywhere else I get lost (this building is like a maze). But somehow, I feel ok. I thought I'd be sick when I walked in the door this morning - I have never been this nervous starting a new role. But I needn't have worried - deep down I knew all along that it would be fine. Everyone has been super friendly and welcoming, and I know I'm going to really love it here when I get settled.

At the moment I'm suffering through the typical new starter's issues of not having very much to do. My new boss, let's call him Dagwood (a reference to his nickname, which everyone - internal and external - all refer to him by) has been in meetings almost constantly since we all got in, so I haven't really had much time to talk to him or figure out how we're going to work together. My first impression I formed of him during my interview seems to be pretty much correct though - he is very busy, very important and very much one of life's over-achievers, but he is also down-to-earth, friendly and not at all intimidating.... ok, maybe a very small bit, but only in the way that everyone here is a stranger and therefore slightly intimidating.

I sit in a cosy little square shape with Dagwood, JM (the Director of the Trading team - Dagwood is Director of the Commercial Sales team) and Sammy, JM's PA. Sammy has all the luck though - there's no-one behind her so her screen is closed off from everyone on the floor. Not so with me - the 2 rows of peeps behind me can see what I'm doing, so that means I have to be all professional - at least, until I'm settled and I know how much mucking about I can get away with.

It is strange to be waiting for orders from someone other than my old team - I keep looking around expecting Jackie to come up behind me and start asking me to squeeze meetings into places where there aren't even any places, as she did several times a day. I am literally sitting here waiting for something to happen, so in the meantime I'm reading up about the company on the intranet. It reminds me of when I first started in all my other temp roles, and I know if I could fast forward a few weeks, I'd see myself laughing and chatting with colleagues (whom I'd be calling by name - a seemingly impossible feat right now), getting on with tasks that will be as familiar to me as breathing and generally feeling like part of the furniture (a good thing). I know I have that all to look forward to - I just have to get through the first few days.

The great thing about this office is the noise level. Sammy and I have a radio crossing the divider on our desks, and that along with two or three others in the office are permanently on, resulting in someone constantly retuning theirs as someone else changes stations, so we don't have conflicting broadcasts jarring our brains. It's so cool to work to a soundtrack of music - I'd forgotten how much I like the background noise.

Anyway, I think maybe I've spent long enough wasting company on my very first day, so hopefully soon I will have plenty of hot celebrity gossip to set these pages alight - I'm crossing fingers!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

A New Year's Day

Ohhhhhhh, I have to admit I've been avoiding this post. So many festivities, so many people. So much wine drunk, so much grub gobbled. So much socialising I feel the need to spend a month in the mountains with a stick and sherpa blanket. And then to relive it all right here? No way. 2008 is about moving forward, so let's not dwell on 2007's excesses.

I will quickly summarise the holidays though: Christmas was gay and lovely. NYE was tame (had the flu so couldn't drink) and all the days in between were filled to the bursting seams with people living at our house. I didn't have time to miss my family much, and I certainly do not miss any of my friends right now... as much as I love them, I would like to love them from afar until this blanket of unapproachability has dissolved (and it might be a while yet). The thing about being so far away from home is that you see the same people for the entire festive season. And yes, there are a couple of isolated instances which directly resulted from the cabin fever that have one or two people perhaps not seeing eye to eye on certain topics. But everyone has gone home now, and there are no plans to do anything with each other for..... hmmm, let's see, 2 whole weeks (and only then because we booked the ice skating before Christmas, ie before the friend-phobia hit). Two weeks of no friends? What bliss.

So, I had all sorts of ideas for this post, despite avoiding it. A philosophical summary of 2007's highs and lows? A nostalgic trip down memory lane of what made 2007 the Year That Was? No. And I'll tell you why: 2007 was quite simply one of my worst years yet. I'd say my worst, but getting involved with a crack addict sort of trumps an all round bad year with the man you love, so it wasn't quite rock bottom. It came pretty close though - certainly my worst year since I turned 21.

It was bad for all the usual reasons and more, many of which you could find on the pages of this blog, should you care to look back that far (and come on, of course you don't). It was horrendous enough that I don't feel it would be right to start off the new year by rehashing the miseries of old. Also, I'm lazy and not in the mood for a deep, heartfelt post. Instead, I'll pay a tribute to 2007 by simply jotting down a few things that are going oh so right for me as we kick into 2008:

*My new job (starting next week Monday)
*Going to Cape Town in just 3 weeks and 2 days
*Spain in the summer?
*Combining 2 monthly salaries with a realistic "get out of debt soon" plan
*The end-of-year goal to buy property
*My wonderful boyfriend, who still loves me despite me being a miserable old cow for the last 4 months of 2007
*A fantastic group of friends (who just need to make themselves scarce for a month before they can go back to being fantastic)
*My ever supportive family - if there was an award for bendable ears, they'd get it

And now, instead of further musings about the state of my life (which is good), let's get to the really important stuff. Here's my Top of 2007 List:

Stand-Out Album
The Wreckers - Stand Still, Look Pretty (I'm cheating a bit here; this was released in 2006, but I only discovered it in 2007 and it became the soundtrack to my misery)

Legendary Song
Home by Daughtry

Vomit Inducing Song
Beautiful Girls by Sean Kingston ("You'll have me suicidal, suicidal / When you say it's over" don't say. Pass the razor blades.)

Most Watchable TV Show
Grey's Anatomy Season 3 before the writers hit the proverbial wall and made Meredith "die." What.A Lot.Of Kak.

Crappest TV Show
Keeping Up With The Kardashians

Most Fantastic Hook-Up
Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood (to all 19 year olds everywhere: THIS is how you rebel. It does not get better than this - her dad is gibbering in a straight jacket right now)

Unsexiest Hook-Up
Issy and George from Grey's (can anyone say incest?)

Broken Fairytale Break-Up
Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling (It would never have happened like this in the Notebook)

Hands Down Best Movie

Best Book (read, but not necessarily published, in 2007)
Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind - I can't pick just one as the series as a whole story is mindblowingly stunning