Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday is pikey day

Thursday is pikey day in my town.

This is because the Sheriff's court opposite my office prosecutes all the louts for breaching their ASBOs and being drunk and disorderly on a Thursday afternoon. (That's to say they prosecute them on a thursday. The louts don't get drunk and disorderly on a Thursday, but then again that would explain the racket that is currently going on at the bus stop just outside my window)

So anyway, the pikeys all turn up on the bus from the 4 corners of West Lothian, get let off their misdermeanors by the Sheriff, walk around town wearing caps and track suits and making noise, then get back on the bus again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Vegetable progress 4

Finally there is more to report.

Potatoes are just showing through now, and the onions and parsnips are in. The salad leaves are growing really well and the french beans grow about 2cm a day which is a bit freaky. The carrots are very slow but there is definite progress.

I think I may have achieved the unthinkable and got Nick vaguely interested in gardening. He now goes out to inspect the plants, pulls up the odd weed and, staggeringly, he came to the garden centre with me on Sunday.

The plant section was not much interest to him but he did end up buying an enormous hosepipe with a special manly fitting that sprays water out in 7 different ways, which he used to threaten me all afternoon. I was not amused. However I had the last laugh when he was adjusting the connection at the tap. It popped off and shot a super strong jet of water right up into his face. Totally slap stick, and thoroughly deserved. He he he.

Monday, April 24, 2006

New job

I started at my new office today. Everything was going fine until - horror of horrors - I realised I had diarrhoea. (probably the nerves.)

Now, usually in a new job I like to wait at least 2 weeks before defecating in the office loo. It's a very important milestone, that first work poo, do you know what I mean? So there I was, first afternoon, very small office, tiny loo right off the main hall, badly fitting door, diarrhoea - need I say more? I'm hoping my first impression won't jeopardise what could be a promising career.

On a totally different subject: I am going to have to slowly introduce my tea drinking habits to my new colleagues. Quite frankly, 2 cups in a day is just not enough. 2 cups an hour maybe. Honestly, I thought I was going to shrivel up into a dried out old husk and be blown away by the waft of fag smoke drifting in from the people waiting at the bus stop just outside my window. I have to say this about my old office, we kept ourselves fed and watered - literally a fresh brew every hour to wash down the ready supply of biscuits.

Other new things learned today: Picturesque as it may be, it is not a good idea to sit on a bench by a loch full of swans and attempt to eat a sandwich. Those are big fucking birds and when you’re seated on a low bench and they waddle up to you, their beaks are exactly at sandwich level. I was scared - especially of the brave one that looked me in the eye. To combat this I looked straight back at it, growled, and gobbled down my sarnie as fast as I could.

I will find a different bench for my lunch tomorrow.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

So good they named it twice

Well, we are back from the Big Apple. We had a truly brilliant time, and although we were only away for 4 days it felt like much longer because we packed so much in.

The time difference meant we arrived only just after we set off, and had all Friday afternoon and evening at our disposal. It was raining quite hard so, after walking to Times square and up Broadway, we opted for a rickshaw ride around central park. We got a really good running commentary from the rickshaw guy, and we saw much more of the park than we would have on foot (it's 83 acres). Then we walked and walked and walked ( the general theme of our trip!) down fifth avenue, meandering and marveling at the BIGNESS of everything.

On Saturday we got up super early (still on UK time) and the sun was out in force. We got the subway downtown and walked across Brooklyn bridge. The we walked and walked some more, down to the Staten Island ferry. I would just like to point out that we hemorrhaging cash at every turn so the free ferry ride was a god send. You get to see the Statue of liberty and the best view of Manhattan, as well as a smug feeling when you see people forking out $20 for a tourist trip that does exactly the same.

Then we started walking back up the island, past Ground Zero, via Century 21, past 100 famous sights, through China town, little Italy, SoHo and into Greenwich village. By this time we were knackered and it was boiling hot so we got a taxi back to our hotel. After a kip we headed back to China town for a superb meal in a restaurant specialising in Peking Duck. Yum!

We were up early again on Sunday, and here's a tip, if you are planning a trip up one of the tall buildings, go as soon as it opens. We went up the Rockerfeller Building at 8.30 in the morning and there was only about 10 people about. Both the Rockerfeller and the Empire State building have 2 hour queues later in the day.

Then we started walking again. The weird thing is that in New York you feel totally orientated straigh taway. It's probably due to the grid system of streets and avenues. You can always figure out where to go, and where you are. It's actually hard to get lost! Having said that there is always another Avenue to explore, and our walk back to central park took us past more famous sights. I also went for a wee in the Trump Tower.

Then we wandered nearly the full length of central park, down the East side. I had told Nick I really wanted to see the Guggenhiem, one of my favourite buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This was the reason for our mammoth hike up the park. I was rather disappointed to find the entire building clad in scaffolding and all the white render stripped off for renovation. Maybe it was just psychological but because I couldn't see the outside of the building I resented paying the $18 per person entry fee to see the exhibitions, so we just took some snaps of the inside, used the loo, and set off on our walk back again!

Later we splashed out on the best seats in the house for a new Broadway show of the Three Penny Opera with Alan Cumming, Jim Dale (of Carry on fame) Cyndi Lauper (girls just wanna have fun) amongst the cast. In the queue for the loo during the interval I heard one obnoxious woman saying she thought Alan Cumming was very one dimentional and could only play one type of character. I really felt like turning round and saying 'oh but have you never seen the 'High Life'? Surely the pinnacle of Alan Cumming's career, he played a camp air steward in a sit-com for British Television'. Then I remembered that the High Life was totally shit and the only people who liked it were me and my sister, and we only liked it cos it was totally shit, so I kept my mouth shut.

On Monday we did more walking, to see the Chrysler Building (Art Deco Heaven), the Empire State building and the Seagram building. The Seagram Building is easily overlooked but it is a skyscraper of such modernist perfection that it is worth a visit. If you can't afford the airfare, go and look at the Arts Tower at Sheffield University. It was modelled on the Seagram Building and the similarities are staggering!

Then we walked over to Macys, the worlds largest department store. We stocked up on some new shoes and jackets, and then it was time to go home.

3 or 4 days in New York is definitely long enough to get your bearings and see the major sights, but there is sooooo much to see and do it will require a few more repeat visits.

The down sides are MY GOD you get through money like its going out of fashion, and also I found the pollution really bad. My nose was constantly blocked, and I had the most disgusting black bogeys you've ever seen.

The surprising positive sides for me were how welcoming everyone was, how safe we felt walking about, and how accessible the city was to get about in. I also found the architecture unbelievably uplifting. Those long, straight vistas of tall and even taller glassy buildings stretching into infinity made me feel both astounded at the extent of human endeavor, as well as faintly unsettled as I stared into an imagined vision of dystopia.

Its a wonderful movie set of a city. Make time to go there.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

ebay update

Well, my ebay experiment is having mixed success.

On the negative side I am not selling that many cards to people I don't know. (So far my top customer is Jane.) I suspect this is for a number of reasons.

1) If you need a greetings card you probably want it immediately, you don't want to have to wait around for it to be posted to you next week.
2) You probably want to be able to see what you're buying, and it's hard to see what's what on a computer screen.
3) Ebay isn't where I would go if I wanted a nice card, so why should anyone else?

On the plus side I have made 2 interesting contacts with people who have gift shops and want to buy wholesale. One of these is in Scotland and one is in the USA so I have spent all day haggling over the price of shipping bulk orders over to Kansas City.

To be honest it's all a bit surreal and I feel like I'm playing at shop keepers or something. Anyway, this guy says he wants to distribute my cards around Kansas City because you can't get anything like them in the US. I was a bit dubious at first and wondered if he was a scammer, but he is paying me up front for 6 samples so I'm not losing anything so far. I will keep you informed of my wheeling and dealing exploits...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


According to the fact supplied on my penguin wrapper:

Shrimps have their hearts in their heads.

I wonder where they keep their brains then?

Vegetable Progress 3

At last, something to report! Definite SPROUTAGE!

We had Tim, Phil and Jane staying for the weekend. (and a good time was had by all) On Saturday morning we all went out to inspect the vegetable beds. Nothing. Not one sprout. Disappointed, we left for a days shopping in Glasgow.

Now this is the weird thing. On our return 5 hours later Nick went to have another look - and would you believe it?! 2 whole rows of lettuces were poking up their tiny leaves! It's as if they were putting on a special show for out guests. The next morning, more sproutage! 2 rows of radishes are now jauntily peeping up above the soil. Now they must run the gauntlet of late frosts and marauding slugs - come on my beauties, you can do it...

This might sound sad in this age of technological miracles, but looking out at my brave little seedlings gives me so much pleasure and fills me with amazement at the wonders of nature.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Nick: Did you hear, Channel 5 are making a reality TV series based on 'Alive', the story of that plane that crashed in the Andes and some of the passengers survived by cannibalising the dead people.
Me: A reality TV show? That's sick. The actual people that died in that tragedy might have something to say about that!
Nick: ????

Colleague quote of the day

Me: (on getting back in the nice warm car after completing a survey in a freezing cold building) I didn't like being in that gloomy house, especially in the pitch black bits.

(Drive for 2 minutes. Pass sign for Natural Burial site.)

Me: Urgh, I'd hate to be buried, all cold and dark.
Colleague: Yeah, but your eyes soon get used to it.

I think I can safely assume from this that my colleagues don't listen to me.

Tact and Gussets

Janet: Every time I go into the kitchen I get an electric shock.
Tactless Boss: (scathing) Well you should stop wearing all those synthetic clothes then.
Janet: (looks down at her leather shoes, linen skirt and cotton top) but...???... even my pants are cotton...

This sparked a discussion on the merits of wearing cotton pants. (naturally this occurred after the boss had gone) It was proclaimed by 50% of the girls in the office that, for hygiene and comfort reasons, you should only ever wear cotton pants. The other girls asked innocently 'but why?' The worldly wise (and fungally challenged) girls laughed knowingly.

By way of explanation I attempted a demonstration of the look a girl gets when she is trying to satisfy the urge to scratch an itch in an intimate area with out anyone noticing. (sort of a similar posture to a little girl who desperately needs a wee) This got 2 reactions: one of total recognition from some girls, and one of complete mystification from others.

How lucky they are to be un-afflicted, but for the rest of us, there is always the yoghurt...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Crikey, this ebay lark is a bit addictive isn't it? Only this time I'm on the other side, waiting for people to buy my things. I'm looking through the card section going 'hey look, those other cards are shit! don't buy those, buy MINE, mine are much MUCH better.....'

Anyway, now I'm panicking. The majority of cards for sale are quite different to mine. Without wanting to be mean these people, most of the handmade cards are really rubbish. Does this mean that most people who buy cards on ebay have similar taste? Does that mean they look at mine and say 'oooooh no, far too modern and minimal for me - ahh that's better, here's one with a cute little puppy stuck on the front of some gingham paper with a pink ribbon bow in the top corner - much nicer.'

And then there's the relisting issue. You see, ebay pronounce in big letters RELIST FOR FREE, so if you don't sell your item then you can put it up again for free. Then when you read the small print you realise that you only get 1 extra free go. If you don't sell it the second time then they take your 35p and it's tough luck all round.

So this is where I start to wonder. Have the cute-puppy-loving-card-buying-public just deprived me of my 35p?

Only time will tell.

Here's another bit of shamless my cards here!!!

Bidding war

Thanks to G, T and A who have all put in bids for my cards on ebay.

It was very exciting to see my first bids coming in. Now I just need to attract buyers who don't know me and feel they have a duty to buy a card as a show of support!

I was surprised to see Tim bidding against my own sister for a card that appears at least 6 other times! You great wally. Not only did you loose me an extra sale but you had the cheek to deprive me of my 90p postage by requesting to collect the card in person. I will be having strict words at the weekend.

Monday, April 03, 2006

In business at last!

After a long period of preparation I am finally in a position to start selling my handmade greetings cards.

I have opened an ebay shop here so check it out and let me know what you think. Constructive critisism only please!
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