Monday, 11 March 2013

The Great Fence Debate

On some days at work, I lose the will to live.

For well over an hour, I’ve been subjected to a cyclical debate about the pros and cons of fencing versus brick walls. In summary:

A brick wall should take 2 weeks to build. But it might take 3 weeks, and if it takes 3 weeks it’s going to cost more (£550 a week don’t you know, plus materials) and the person commissioning the wall doesn’t have a never-ending pot of money and can’t afford that much, especially as she’s going on holiday soon. A ‘gardener guy’ has warned her that the 2 conifer trees in the neighbour’s garden may, over time, damage the wall, either with the roots or by hitting it when swaying in the wind. This could be a problem, because she obviously doesn’t want to erect a wall, only to have it knocked down by a wayward tree, or have the roots push it up so that it bulges in an unsightly manner. No-one wants that.

Although the ‘builder guy’ advised her that he would need to dig a foundation trench and pour concrete, he didn’t also advise that he would have to wait for the concrete to set. Logic be damned, she evidently assumed that bricks could be laid on wet concrete. Give it a go, you never know, it might just work! So the question now is, will she be paying him for the day that he’s sitting in his van, drinking tea, waiting for the concrete to set? Because it’s not about that. What about wooden fencing, I hear you ask. Well, that’s another story. She’s not all that keen on wooden fencing, because cats can get into the garden under the fence, and she doesn’t like cats. It would be a lot cheaper to go with fencing, and it wouldn’t be so difficult to replace if there were problems caused by the trees. But it’s not the same. Maybe she could amalgamate the two mediums, and have a brick base and brick pillars with the wooden fence posts in between. She seems to have forgotten that one of the major reasons for not having the brick wall is the tree roots. Although maybe I’m forgetting that tree roots would only push through the base of a brick wall if it was 6ft tall or more, a 2ft wall just isn’t worth the roots’ time. But how would the fence panels be affixed to the brick pillars? Maybe she could contact a fencing company to see if they could work with the brick pillars. Or maybe she could ask builder guy if he could install the fence panels at the same time as building the pillars. But then he may try to charge her more again. Plus, if you have a brick base, you’d still need a concrete foundation, so someone would have to dig the trench for it. That’s ok though, she could do that herself, the soil in her garden is quite soft. Apparently a wooden fence would also need a concrete foundation, so that will have to be done either way. Now the tape measure has come out. What kind of PA has a tape measure at work? Maybe the question should be what kind of a PA am I that I don’t have one? A bad one I’ll wager. How long is a metre? Is 2 metres 6ft? No, no it’s not.

Now Google has been consulted on the ins and outs of fence erection, and the laws concerning dealing with a neighbour’s tree roots. Did you know that it’s illegal to cut tree roots if the tree itself isn’t on your property (even if the roots are)? Apparently it’s trespassing. So now she would have to consult her neighbour Pat, and she doesn’t think he’d want to have his trees cut down just so that she can have a garden wall built.

I have to admit, after 40 minutes I was on the verge of screaming in the faces of these two god-forsaken women, so I have had to insert both my headphones to block out the inane drivel coming from them (normally one will suffice, but the lone bud just wasn’t cutting it today). Sadly, this means I have no more details to impart, although I’m pretty sure it will consist of rephrasing the above points, at least twice. Incidentally, they are still talking. It has now been an hour and 15 minutes, and counting, and as yet the various aspects of the issue are still not satisfactorily covered. I’m not sure I could talk for an hour and 15 minutes solid about something that really, really interested me, let alone something as banal as fencing. Fencing. Please stop. Please, I implore you.

*10 minutes later* Oh thank the lord, his disciples and all the angels, she has gone back to her own office with her conversation counterpart, presumably to repeat the discussion with a new audience. However, I don’t think the debate will be settled so easily, so I’m mentally preparing myself for round two. I will also remove all possible projectiles from my desk, just in case I’m tempted to launch something at one of their heads.

Who knew that fencing and walls could be such an interesting, engaging subject to pass the time? Oh, that’s right, no-one. No-one in the history of ever has given so much time to so meaningless a thing.

A couple of weeks ago I had a job interview for a job with the National Trust, which I don't mind telling you is a job I really, really wanted. Well, it turns out I didn't get the job, and at the time I was, to say the least, a little peeved. I didn't ask for feedback straight away. I had a proper sulk on, and I didn't want to hear all the stuff I'd done wrong in said interview. Anyway, after a couple of days I got over my little paddy and asked for some feedback. You see, I do still want to work for the NT, so if I could find out what I'd done wrong I would be less likely to repeat the faux pas next time. Well, I had the feedback today, and it turns out that actually I did really well! I didn't get the job because one of the other interviewees had direct experience of the job (which I did not). He also commented that I had the best sense of humour of all the interviewees (who knew!?) and that I should keep trying. Well sir, I will keep trying! And one day someone there will give in and hire me!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Floating Anchor

The Oxford Dictionary defines an Anchor as “a heavy object attached to a cable or chain and used to moor a ship to the sea bottom, typically having a metal shank with a pair of curved, barbed flukes at one end”. One would assume, therefore, that for the anchor to reach the sea bottom (and given that it’s made of metal) it must sink. Unless I’m very much mistaken, the sole purpose of an anchor is to sink, to sink as low as it possibly can. With that in mind, I struggle to understand this:

Well, it’s not so much that I struggle to understand it, as that I get really, irrationally fucked off by it. The above demonstrates my point perfectly. Not only is it an anchor (the very definition of a sinking object) that refuses to sink, but it’s also an infinity loop, which just gets on my tits generally. I’m not sure why it annoys me as much as it does - maybe I think it’s just a little pretentious. Nothing in life is infinite, why pretend that it is?

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the thought behind refusing to sink, it’s admirable. “Life won’t get the better of me; I’ll keep going and won’t be bogged down by any problems I may face”. Bravo, good for you. Don’t then team it with something that will always sink. Always. If you really do refuse to sink, incorporate a beach ball or a balloon into your tattoo – they’re much more fun than anchors anyway. Or a duck. Ducks are great at floating, and they’re cute.

You may say that I’m looking at the tattoo too literally, that it’s meant to be some clever juxtaposition between the anchor and the refusal to think; that it’s some kind of subtle irony. Would that it were, but a quick look at the caliber of people sporting the tattoo make this very unlikely. Very unlikely indeed. Fuck it, why not get a tattoo of a plate of meat with ‘100% vegetarian’ round the bottom of it? It makes about as much sense.

As a rule, I’m a fan of tattoos, but for God’s sake make them decent. They should either mean something (something proper, not pretentious bullshit that doesn’t work), or they should be interesting to look at. One or the other, or both, but not neither. On that note, I’m off to get a tattoo of some barbed wire.

Happily, today is Sunday. It's a bright and dry (if somewhat parky) day, my hairy faced other half has a day off work, the house is relatively tidy and I'm not far off finishing a little mini craft project - making some headphones tangle-proof (along the lines of these and I get to spend my afternoon drinking tea and watching Sherlock Holmes. It might not be everyone's idea of a good time, but it certainly is mine! 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Caffeine Hit

At work today I was listening to the radio, and I heard an advert highlighting the dangers of fatigue while driving. Now, while I appreciate the cause, the advert itself is stupid. The reason for this is, in fact, due to the omission of one word: too. The inclusion of this word would mean I had no reason to find this advert so dumb. The transcript is as follows:

Over 300 people a year are killed in accidents where the driver has fallen asleep at the wheel. Before you feel tired, pull off the road into a services or other safe area. Drink some strong coffee and take a quick nap while the caffeine kicks in. Think! Don’t drive tired.

Personally, the majority of my day is ‘before I feel tired’. At which point do I stop driving and hop myself up on copious amounts of coffee, and then try to force myself to nap while said unnecessary coffee is turning my brain into a veritable firework display, rendering my concentration akin to that of a dog that has just had 50 tennis balls thrown to him? I'm sure there must, equally, be some dangers associated with driving in this state too, no?

There is also a considerable difference between being tired and feeling like you’re going to fall asleep. For example, when I get up for work at 7am I am tired, but I'm not sleepy; I don’t fall back to sleep on the bus and subject the other passengers to my snoring and drooling (to my knowledge I don’t drool or snore, but you get the idea). And what happens if you go from not being tired, not being tired, not being tired, BAM! Comatose. I've missed my chance to drink some strong coffee, and now I'm probably going to kill someone with my sleepiness. If only I’d had that strong coffee before I felt tired, then no-one would have had to die.

Before you feel too tired, pull off the road into a services. That’s all it needs. Actually, I'm not sure I'm too keen on ‘a services’ either. It should be ‘a service station’, ‘a services’ is bad English. Ho hum.

The good news in Peg's world (even though it hasn't really cheered me up because I'm an incurably miserable bitch today) was that I got confirmation of my year-end performance bonus. I'm really chuffed, it will go towards me wedding, and will cover a good few of the big things on my list!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The 130 Straight to Hell

Before I start I need to point out that I am not really a morning person. Well, it’s not so much that I'm not a morning person, it’s more that I generally hate getting out of bed, regardless what time that actually takes place. Getting up at noon is as offensive to me as getting up at 6am. Being up is unpleasant, and people who are ‘morning people’ (you know who you are) are abhorrent. “You’re missing the best part of the day by festering in bed, get up and enjoy the morning”. Shut your face. My bed is the best part of the day, everything I do after I get out of it is an inconvenience that I have to put up with until I can get back there.

I'm going to set the scene. I get up at 7.10, I get dressed, I take care of the usual personal hygiene requirements, I sort out my stuff for work, on a Tuesday morning I bring the relevant bin round to the front of the house ready for the bin men, I put on my coat, I get the bird up and at 7.35 (or thereabouts) I leave the house. Sometimes I call at Tesco on my way to the bus station, depending on whether I need food/money. In any event, I arrive at the bus station no later than 7.45. The bus I get to work departs from the bus station at 7.52, so I am always in good time to catch it. Not once have I missed it, or even had to run to catch it on
time. Not once.

So how, I ask you, is it so difficult for other people to do the same? Every morning, without fail, there are 2 people who have to run for the bus. And it’s always the same 2 people: 2 people who I will henceforth refer to as Hong Kong Sally and Squinty Sue. Hong Kong Sally is a Chinese lady who catches the bus from the bus station. Generally the bus arrives at the station at about 7.40 or so, and the driver has 5 minutes off the bus where he’ll get a coffee and go for a crafty fag. Even then, there’s still a good 5 or 10 minutes for all the passengers (of which there are a lot) to get onto the bus before it leaves. People tend to get to the station around the same time as the bus, and steadily the number builds until there are about 20 or so people waiting to board. I can guarantee that every other passenger is on the bus, sitting down, and the bus driver will have closed the doors when Sally comes running up to it. And then, once she gets onto the bus, she spends 2 minutes fannying around trying to find her purse in her bag. That’s another of my bugbears. Have your money ready before you get on the bus, don’t spend time fumbling and holding everything up, just because you’re not able to get out of bed 5 minutes earlier. Personally I think Sally is a bit stupid. Every morning she spends £4.80 on a daily ticket, when she could spend £19 and get one for the week. Like I say, a bit stupid. The other of these incessantly tardy passengers is Squinty Sue. I call her this because she can’t see more than a foot in front of her face. Now, I'm not being offensive or abusing someone with a disability – I've seen Sue in town wearing glasses, and she doesn't squint at all. Why does she refuse to wear them to work? I don’t understand it. If I didn't wear my glasses I’d spend the day squinting too, which is why I am always bespectacled. Sue gets on the bus at the first stop after the bus station, which is also a very busy stop, usually with about 15 people waiting to board. To reach this stop, the bus comes to a crossroads with traffic lights, and turns right up a hill. Every morning, from my vantage point at the front of the bus, I see Sue running across the road and up the hill, quite often racing the bus. Only for the fact that the bus stop is so busy does she actually make it at all.

There are a few regular characters I see on the bus every day. In addition to Sue and Sally and a couple of others I will discuss in more detail later, there is also Poirot. Obviously it’s not actually Poirot, but it is in fact a woman who a) looks like a new transsexual who thinks that long hair and lipstick a convincing woman makes, and b) has the David Suchet Poirot shuffling walk down to a fine art. Woman! Pick your feet up! There is cockney Mick, a painful stereotype who works the nightshift somewhere and drinks three cans of Red Bull while waiting for the bus. I don’t even know how you could drink one can, let alone three. Rank. There’s the big fat jolly man in a fedora who very nearly throws himself under the bus every morning in order to guarantee that he gets on it first. I sometimes wonder what all these people must think of me when they see me. “There’s the purple girl again, in her same seat, headphones in, staring at everyone who gets on. What’s her problem?”

The next of my issues with the bus is the array of smells that pervade the air, and more importantly, my nostrils. At the second bus stop are a group of Indian men who perpetually smell of curry. I think they all live together in some kind of house share, because they all arrive at the bus stop together, they get off the bus together, they sit together and talk loudly throughout the journey (which annoys me – more on that later). Presumably they also all cook and eat together, and the smell permeates everything – their clothes, their bags, and their skin (probably). Again, this isn't me being offensive at all, just observant. While I dislike the odour of Vindaloo Vic and his merry men, I equally dislike the pungent aroma of Johnny Pot-Smoker, an unashamed scally who dresses exclusively in tracksuits, has 2 Chinese symbols tattooed on his neck (obviously with some deep meaning) and smells (not so subtly) of weed. Perhaps on a Friday night, one or other (or both) of these fragrances would be more appealing, but at 8am on a Monday morning not so much.

As previously stated, morning people get on my wick. Those jolly people who are all chatty and happy and bright. You, sir, have no place in my life, and definitely not before 9am. When these people grace the bus with their sickeningly sunny disposition it makes me wish I had a pea shooter. I remember reading somewhere that it would be good if it was socially acceptable to throw water balloons at people who irritate you. ‘I don’t want to hurt you, but I do want to ruin your day’. I agree with this statement. Now, I was raised to have good manners and I'm always polite to the bus driver, but I don’t stand having a good old chinwag with him while there are people behind me, cold people, wanting to get on. And when 2 of these people get together a revolting level of loud chat ensues. Thank heaven for headphones and obnoxious music.

These issues aside, by far my biggest problem with this particular bus is the seating, or more specifically peoples’ inability to apply logic to a task as straightforward as sitting on a bus. As I've already attested, the bus is quite busy at this time in a morning, so seats are at a premium. Which is the main reason why I leave the house earlier: so that I can walk to extra few minutes to the bus station instead of the nearest bus stop, so I can guarantee myself a decent seat. I do, of course, understand that it isn't feasible for everyone to walk to the bus station, and indeed it would defeat the object of having bus stops at all, but there should at least be rules to seating and people should be made to adhere to them.

For the first 3 or 4 bus stops, people are fairly sensible and sit, first, in the window seats, and then will begin to occupy up the aisle seats as the bus gets busier. However, there are always a couple of people who disagree with this way of doing things: people who sit on the aisle seat and leave the window seat empty meaning that anyone who wants to occupy the window seat has to ask you to move; people who spread themselves out in the middle of a row of 3 seats so that there isn't quite enough room for anyone to sit either side of you without having to ask you to move your shit. These renegades fuck me off and their actions have 2 possible outcomes.
1. People are forced to ask you to move, thus eliciting conversation that I find to be unnecessary at that time in the morning, and because you didn't really want to sit next to anyone in the first place (we all know your game and we’re not impressed by it) you huff and glare at them, making them feel like turd, all because they have the audacity to want to sit down.
2. People don’t want to engage in the above, so instead they stand.
There is another renegade who fucks me off even more – the one that stands even when there are clearly still seats available: seats that don’t even require you to interact with another person; seats that you could occupy without having to so much as make eye contact with another human being. I can understand a person’s reluctance to sit next to Vic or Johnny, but come on, you’re on public transport, suck it up and deal with the public Shirley. Because if you stand, everyone who boards the bus after you will think ‘this man is standing, he must be doing so because there are no seats for him to sit in. Thus I must stand too’.

Standing brings with it a gamut of other problems, because people don’t really seem to understand the etiquette for standing on a bus. You see those big yellow poles appearing at intervals down the length of the bus? They are neither structural nor aesthetic; they are for holding, so that you don’t fall over while the bus is moving. Those people who do have to stand are meant to filter down the bus, starting at the back, holding on to said yellow poles, and as the bus fills the standers get closer to the front. Not so. The first person who has to stand will do so 3 inches behind the driver’s cab. The next passenger tries to squeeze into this 3-inch gap, and so it continues until there are 10 people crowded into the first 6 feet of the bus, so tightly packed that even Johnny’s pot smoke couldn't get through, let alone a passenger wishing to disembark. For some reason that is beyond my comprehension there is a distinct refusal to space out. I want to shout at them, I actually want to yell in their stupid faces that it’s quite a simple process – move down the fucking bus. If you get in my way when I need to get off I'm going to kick you in the shins. And then, at the last stop before I get to work, on get Cat and India – two Alderley Edge School for Girls pupils and living proof that money cannot buy sense – who are of the opinion that the bag rack is for sitting in, and the floor is the correct place for their school bags, sports bags and hockey sticks. What about when people need to get off the bus? Do they pick up their bags at this point? They do not. What they do is stick one of their legs over it, so instead of tripping on the bag you can trip on their leg instead – much better.

Considering this is how I start my day, it’s a miracle I'm so pleasant.

There is one positive about the bus ride to work (although to be fair it would be the same good thing if I was in a car). On a telegraph pole there's a plastic holder, and in said holder there is always, without fail, a bunch of yellow roses. The reason this makes me smile is because yellow roses were the favourite flower of my mother, and evidently they are the favourite flower of someone else too. I guess they may be commemorating something sad, but every day when I see them I think of my Ma, and that can only be a good thing.