Friday, December 29, 2006

How many brain cells does it actually require to work at a refreshment stand?

I went to the cinema this evening with my dad and brothers. Bluewater was packed and apparently everyone had decided to have dinner at the exact same time as us. Most places said there was a 45 minute wait and as we only had an hour and a half till the film, we struggled to find somewhere that was going to feed us quick enough. We ended up at Carluccio's, which was slightly speedier, but we were still pressed for time so my brother Kolin and I went ahead to get popcorn etc while my dad and my other brother stayed to pay the bill.

So we walked up to the counter and queued for a little while before one of the staff called us over to his till. We walked over and I ordered a large popcorn, a bag of Minstrels and a bag of Starburst (Opal Fruits, Opal Fruits, Opal Fruits!!!!) and I then ordered an apple Tango for my dad. I turned to Kol and asked what he wanted. A Pepsi. So I said, "Okay, and two small Pepsis."

Our server, Olly, looked confused. "Do you still want the apple Tango?"

"Yes, and a Diet Pepsi."

"So that's one small apple Tango, two small Pepsis and a Diet Pepsi?"


"Do you know it would be cheaper to get a regular Pepsi, because that's less than two small Pepsis."

"Well, if it's cheaper...." I waited for a moment as what he actually said sinks in. "Wait, no, we need four drinks."

"Oh," he said. "I thought it was just for the two of you."

Yeah, the two of us were going to eat a whole large bag of popcorn and chase it with two entire bags of sweets. Seriously!

A series of Christmas vignettes

I figured that rather than bore you all with the whole "I did this, and then I did that and then I went there..." rendition of Christmas, I would simply highlight for you the most entertaining segments in a series of amusing anecdotes. This may or may not continue for several days, depending on how much I can actually remember!

The one where we ate the cat:
On Boxing day I ate lunch at my friend Ali's the same as I did on Christmas day. Her brother and his girlfriend were there. In an attempt to steer the conversation away from what may have been an inappropriate topic for dinner conversation (I honestly can't remember what), Ali's mum turned to her and said, "How's the cat?"

She was, of course, referring to Tilly, the cat owned by the people Ali (and I, sort of) was housesitting for. Ali's brother, however, in a moment of incredible quick-wittedness that I can only envy, poked the meat on his plate gingerly with his fork, looked up at us with eyes full of concern and said, "The cat?"

The one with the SPLAT!
Boxing day evening Ali and I got the munchies and headed down to the BP garage to stock up on goodies. We were looking at the selection of crisps and trying to make a decision, factoring in several special offers. "Well," I said, "I like Doritos, but if we get Doritos we have to get dip, and I don't like those Doritos dips. Do you think they'll have fresh ones?"

"I doubt it," was Ali's cynical reply.

Well I headed off over to the chiller cabinet and there they were: a selection of 4 dips in little plastic pots, stacked and then surrounded by a cardboard sleeve. "Aha!" I said to Ali. "They do have fresh dips!" And I picked up the cardboard sleeve and brandished the dips at her.

At which point the bottom pot of dip slid out of the cardboard sleeve and landed with a resounding SPLAT on the floor.

After we had recovered from our hysterical laughter, Ali and I grabbed another pack of dips and ran away to pay for them. Yes, I am the type of person who makes a mess in a shop and then pretends to have had nothing to do with it. I'm a bad person.

The one with the song from Friends:
At my mum's I noticed a funny smell. The cat was winding itself around my legs at the time, but I expressed incredulity at the fact that the cat could stink so bad that I could smell it from there. My mum said its teeth are really bad and she should really take it to the vet, that it should have really had yearly checkups, but it hadn't, and now it had the worst cat breath ever.

Later that evening, I caught a whiff of the cat's halitosis again and commented on it, at which point my brother started singing 'Smelly Cat'. I joined in and we sang the song in its entirety. My mum told us to stop, "You'll give him a complex," she said.

"We can't give him a complex, he really does smell," I said. "You won't take him to the vet, he's clearly not your favourite pet."

"Shut up," my mum said, obviously feeling a bit awkward. "We can't afford to take him to the vet."

I looked around at the shiny new cabinets and the gleaming metal of the stainless steel hob. "Well, obviously," I said, "a new kitchen is far more important than your cat's teeth."

"Kolin," my mum said to my brother. "What would you like for dessert, because Laura's not getting any now."

The one with the reminiscent vomit:
We were talking, for some reason, about my mum's ex-boyfriend and my brother reminisced about the time he threw up all down himself whilst they had been staying at my mum's then-boyfriend's.

"I think it was the first time I smoked puff. I'd been drinking and then all [ex-boyfriend's kids] friends were there offering me this joint, so I was all, what the hell, why not. And then I was sick. A lot."

"You really were," my mum interrupted. "We had to put all your clothes in a plastic bag to take them home because they were so covered in sick."

"Yeah," said my brother. "And I was only 6 years old, mother, what kind of parent are you." He paused for effect and my mum gave him a look. "Not really, I think I was fourteen."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm back....

Well, it's been a hectic few days. but mostly enjoyable nontheless. There is lots and lots to talk about, but I just drove back from my mum's so I'm pretty much feeling like putting my pjs on and sitting in bed reading my new Lemony Snicket books, so you'll have to wait for a more updatey update.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and is looking forward to a great new year. I'll be back soon with lots of Christmasy stories to share.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Now 75% less Grinch-like

Well, it seems things are pretty much dead in blog world and I'm guessing they'll stay that way til the 27th. I've come down with a lovely cold, just in time for the festivities. Thank you, immune system.

I've got almost all my presents now. Still don't know what to get for my dad, but I'm not seeing him til late next week so will have a chance to pop in somewhere after the mayhem is over. (At least, after one lot of mayhem is over, because surely another lot of mayhem will commence with the January sales that now seem to start on Boxing Day!)

I'm off to a Christmas Ball tonight, which should be a great evening. Wine and I are still not on speaking terms, so I shall be incredibly sober, though I'm not driving. Then I've got church in the morning and afterwards I'm heading over to my friend's for the festivities to really begin. It all still seems a bit crazy and I can't quite believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

I may post a quick note tomorrow if something especially exciting happens at the ball, but if not, have a merry Christmas everyone and I'll catch up with you all next week.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Broadcast from the department of the obvious:

Four glasses of wine on an almost empty stomach is not a good plan. No matter how many packets of salt and vinegar McCoys you eat after the second glass.

I spent a great evening with my friend Kath (Hi Kath!) but drank faaaaarrrr too much and boy am I feeling it today. I'm not really a big drinker anymore. At most I tend to have a couple of glasses and that's it. Mostly I'm driving, so don't drink. Last night that was not the case.

It's 1pm and I'm still in my dressing gown, still not making any sudden moves because my body can't cope with the vertigo of moving too quickly and the excess of visual input. I can't even remember the last time I had a hangover like this. So much for productivity huh? Alcohol is bad!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Distracted McSidetracked

Yes, that is my new name, you may all address me as such. I am the most unfocussed person in the world today. All I am trying to do is give my flat a bit of a spring (winter) clean and yet I just can't seem to stay on task. I flit from one job to another and then wander back to the computer or TV and think, "I'll just sit down for 5 minutes......."

In fairness my bathroom now looks pretty good (if you ignore the mountain of washing that is clearly multiplying at a cellular level and oh-so-eager to escape the confines of the laundry basket) and I've done a fair bit of washing up and generally moved piles of stuff from one room to another....

Yeah it really is quite pathetic. And now I sit here, the queen of procrastination, writing in my blog and refreshing my Bloglines feeds every few minutes. Right, well I'm off to do more housework, to be a productive member of society.

I might just check Bloglines one last time.....

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's that time again

As you know, I do check my stats from time to time. It's how I discovered my stalkers. Hi stalkers! *waves* Who, by the way, are still reading. And logging in from work. Tut tut. It's understandable really that they'd want to keep coming back, after all, I am just that entertaining.

Anyway, to actually get to the point, I do check my stats, and realised I haven't done a 'Googled' post in a while although I have some classic hits. So, without further ado, on with the show!

the advert were a man is on a chair and then is blown away by alot of hai - I can only assume that this sentence finished with the word hair and that the Google text box wasn't long enough to contain it all. But even then, I have no idea what this is about. Are you sure you didn't dream it?

love squishie - is this some bizarre term of endearment?

apathy, lack of emotion, poor or nonexistant social functioning - ahhh, so someone read my lonely hearts ad! Hehe.

doctor laura nude photos - well, I'm afraid I can't help you with that, and having visited Doctor Laura's website I'm not too sure why you would want nude photos. I can, however, direct you to her talking action figure, with its selection of phrases you can click to listen to. But seriously, check out the scary plastic smile! (And I'm not even talking about the action figure.)

lay back lie back gramma - what is it with people doing searches about my grandmother? Unless they actually meant grammar. In which case I will just quietly pity them. Hehe.

jiggling man boobs - none of those here. Thank the Lord!

making out with joseph gordon levitt -

multiple personality drama queen - hey, someone else who saw my lonely hearts ad! ;)

what's my story morning glory? write it for me - write your own flipping story, lazy arse!

can laura have some lunch please - yes, can she? Which of you miscreants is willing to feed me?

picture of a man farting out lava and near a volcano - can you fart lava? I mean, obviously not as you would die if your bowels were filled with lava. But surely 'fart' implies gas? And yet 'lava' implies liquid. I think a more appropriate word is necessary here.

If I never see another staple it'll be too soon

Today's been good so far. It's only just gone three, there is still room for it to get better. Firstly I just want to say, if you didn't see the video I posted about on Wednesday, you really should. And so I will link it again here because it is seriously funny (well, I think so anyway, and it's all about me don't ya know).

Anyway, I got to school just before nine today, only to discover that the training session (on how to use Adobe Contribute to edit the school website. Joy!) didn't start til ten. Only the head hadn't thought to tell everyone yesterday!

So I spent a good half hour or so pulling staples out of the wall. Fun fun fun. Then we had the training session which actually lasted only an hour, so that was good. My teacher is not very technically minded so I said she could call me anytime to help her out with her class' page.

Afterwards she had to write my report so I pulled more staples out of the wall (OMG the mind-numbing boringness of pulling staples out of the wall. It is boring let me tell you!) until she was done. Then four of us went out for lunch. I left school clutching my final report, a packet of pink wafers and half a box of chocolate chip cake bars - the latter two scrounged from the leftovers of the kids' Christmas parties yesterday - and followed the other two cars down the road. Unfortunately there was a lot of traffic and I lost sight of them not long after we left. I had a vague idea where we were going and it wasn't far. Thankfully I ended up at the right place.

They are a really nice bunch of girls, all about my age, and we had a right laugh. My teacher said I'm welcome to come back and see the kids any time I want, which is great. We ate well and chatted for quite a while and I got home just before three. Now, apart from having to sort out the washing that has been sitting in my washing machine for more days than I'd care to mention, I can sit back, relax and maybe even crack open a bottle of wine.... Life is pretty good.

(Just don't mention the C word. You have been warned!)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

School's out!

So, it was the last day of school today. The kids had their Christmas party and were absolutely climbing the walls with excitement all morning. I had them making photo frames with the obligatory heavy sprinkling of glitter and we took their pictures and printed them out to put inside (ahh, the wonders of the digital age). They looked so cute.

The party went well. The kids danced, played games and ate food, much of which ended up ground into the carpet along with several tons of glitter. I read Charlier and the Chocolate Factory to them for the last time (we left off about 2 chapters from the end, how frustrating is that?) and then gave them the cards and gifts I'd bought for them. They had made me a huge card and each of them had drawn a little self portrait on coloured card which had been cut out and stuck inside. It was really cute. They also gave me a bunch of flowers. In addition to this some of them gave me Christmas presents. I am going to be so fat by Christmas I swear! They gave me two boxes of Maltesers, a box of Belgian chocolate truffles and a box of rum truffles. I also got a massive Belgian chocolate shell from my 'secret santa' at the staff lunch yesterday. One child gave me something I eyed suspiciously, as it appeared to be a rather tacky looking wallet, but it turned out to be a manicure set, which is not totally useless. Anyway, it's the thought that counts, isn't it. One of the boxes of Maltesers came with a women's weekly mag and a couple of tea bags. Hehe. I guess the underlying message was that I could relax now the placement's over, but it made me chuckle a little.

Some of the kids hugged me and said they'd miss me. A couple said I was "the best teacher ever" (kids are so fickle, they will say this to ANYBODY!). It was sweet and I will really miss them. It didn't really occur to me until quite late in the day that I won't see them again and it does make me feel a little sad. They are lovely kids.

I have to go in tomorrow from 9 til 12 for an INSET day. (Don't ask me what it stands for, I'm sure it stands for something as it's always capitalised, but I do not have a clue.) Afterwards, my class teacher and I (and any other teachers who want to tag along) are going to go for lunch, which will be a really nice way to round off the placement.

I did love it, I loved the kids, but I am SO GLAD it's over now. I can actually, like, sleep, and do housework and.....relax!

Mullet: revealed!

I finally managed to get a picture of the kid with the mullet today! Yay! I will post more later about the last day but for now I leave you with "Conrad".

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Random update

I figured I should do a bit of a random update, especially as I just discovered a couple of pictures on my phone that I totally forgot I took (see previous post - brain definitely on hiatus) and I had to share them with you.

On Saturday I went out for a meal with my family for my Grandad's 80th birthday. It was a pretty posh restaurant and the food was REALLY good. But my brother's bread and butter pudding came with a load of orange rind - I guess as decoration, although who knows, maybe you were supposed to eat it. Anyway, my brother piled all of his peel on top of the peel on my cousin's plate, creating a small mountain of the stuff. After some discussion of the message this would send the chef when the plates were removed, my brother decided to remove all ambiguity from said message:

Needless to say, the wine had been somewhat flowing. Just another shining example of the weird and random exploits of my family.

Anyway, there are a couple of other pictures from the weekend that can be viewed on my Flickr

I also had a funny evening Monday night, when I went to see The Holiday with Ali. The film was pretty good, although it was quite long and man, I didn't get home til after midnight! But we had a fun evening as always. Much hilarity.

We went into a bar before the film started and moaned like the old people we clearly are about the volume of the music television in there. But who can blame us in the face of such musical genius as Jibbs' Chain Hang Low. I mean someone has written a song to the tune of "Do your ears hang low?" (let's keep it clean here people), only incorporated the amazing lyrics:

Do your chain hang low

Do it wobble to da flo

Do it shine in the light

Is it platinum is it gold

Could you throw it over ya shoulder

If ya hot it make ya cold

Simply inspiring!

Unfortunately the sound quality on this video sucks, but the skinny white boys made me laugh!

Unauthorised absence

Dear Brain,

Please get a grip. I know you are tired, although God knows why as all you seem to do at the moment is sleep - particularly whilst I'm awake. There is only one more day of school to get through so please return from whatever corner of my skull you have chosen to hide yourself and get with the programme.

It is not helpful that you tell me all day that I have a choir rehearsal tonight when it is, in fact, tomorrow night. I can only be thankful that your absence is recent and you previously had the wherwithal to WRITE THINGS DOWN, because otherwise I would have looked a mighty fool at 8pm, standing around outside an empty building wondering 'Where is everybody?' like the giraffe on that old British Airways advert.

It is a point of fact, dearest Brain, that this absence is quite unacceptable. You are - unfortunately - quite indispensible and irreplaceable as I tend to need you in order to form coherent sentences and hopefully avoid that gut-clenching feeling of social inadequacy.

I know that hours upon hours of wrapping up brightly coloured pencils for the children in my class may well cause you to slip into a trance-like state of sheer, unadulterated boredom, but I'm afraid it can't be helped. There will be time to sleep next week, and to think about nothing more strenuous than what to have for lunch, but until then I must insist that you return to full functionality immediately.

So here's the deal, Brain, let's get through the next couple of days and then you can relax, maybe even take a holiday, on full pay of course. Just don't abandon me yet.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blah blah tired blah

I know. I'm totally slacking. But do you have any idea how tired I am? Man, I feel like I could sleep for a week! I slept really badly Saturday night and was just too exhausted to get any work done on Sunday, so I ended up going to bed at 6:30PM!! I set my alarm for 4:30 so I could get up early and get my work done then - which I did. But even getting up at 4:30 gave me, like, 10 hours sleep. And I am still exhausted and drifted off in front of The Simpsons tonight. What is wrong with me?

I don't have much interesting to say. Only two more days of school and then it's the holidays. I will be SO relieved and may just sleep for a week. Except for that pesky task of Christmas shopping that really has to be done at some point.

The kid's Christmas play went well. They looked really cute. Tomorrow we are decorating Christmas tree shaped boxes and making finger puppets. Aww. There's no real teaching to be done from this point on, so it should be a laugh. And we have our staff Christmas lunch tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to.

Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to say then...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

In which logic loses out to blind panic

Thursday night. I go to bed early as I'm still not 100%. I've been asleep just over an hour when I'm awoken by the buzzer on my entry phone. I roll over and look at the time. 11:45pm. I freeze. The buzzing continues.

I lie in bed, paralysed by fear, unable to even get out of bed because the only person who would buzz my door at quarter to midnight? Would have to be an axe murderer. (Did I mention I was ill? That possibly, I wasn't thinking 100% straight?) Because obviously, axe murderers will buzz your entry phone when they want to come in and kill you.

*BUZZZZZZ* "Oh, hi, sorry to bother you at this time of night. I'm a crazy axe-wielding maniac and just wondered if you'd buzz me in so I can chop you up into little bits and store your remains in my freezer."

Yeah, okay Laura.

Anyway, after what seemed like FOREVER, the buzzing stopped and my heart slowly returned to its natural pace. I lay there, silent, lights still off so no crazy axe murderers would know I was home, and wondered who on earth would have been buzzing my door at midnight.

A few more minutes pass and MY PHONE STARTS TO RING! It's a local number, not a mobile, and one I don't recognise. Why would the crazy axe murderer, having got no answer from my front door, go home and then ring my mobile? Why would a crazy axe murderer HAVE my mobile number? (This is what it is like inside my head. Are you scared yet? Are you already dialling for the men in white coats to come and take me away? Can I just repeat the fact that I was still running a bit of a fever? Thank you.)

Eventually, after my phone had rung several times, the crazy axe murderer left a message on my voicemail and I picked it up.

It was J. She had decided to come visit me, knowing that usually I'm still wide awake at midnight. Her mobile was out of battery so she was calling from a phone box.

You know what? That actually makes a LOT more sense than an axe wielding maniac who happens to have both my address and phone number.


Beka tagged me for this. You have to take a photo of yourself as you are right this second, no chance to straighten your hair or do your makeup....this will teach me to read blogs the second I get out of the bath. Haha. Voila!

Me looking rough!

I now tag Fiona, Nat and Kristen.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And who would have thought, it figures

Irony can kiss my butt.

Why on the day that I post about having not missed a single day of school do I end up with my head down the toilet? It's just not right.

I am sick. (In case that last paragraph did not make that clear.) So I should try to go to bed and hope I don't throw up again. Great!

Decisively undecided...

Dinner last night was cool. Ali and I went to an Italian place and ate far too much. We arrived there to discover that there was live opera!! We sat and chatted and were interrupted by random arias. It was an interesting evening.

The cinema trip today was excellent. There wasn't enough room on the coach for all the adults, so on the way to Bluewater I got to go in a car with some of the other staff. We got there wayyyyyyy before the coaches as they somehow got stuck in horrendous traffic, so we sat in Krispy Kreme and had donuts. It was so good!

Then the kids turned up and we walked them through to the cinema, making sure they all went to the toilet. We had a whole screen booked out for the school, which was great and felt really special. Flushed Away is really funny although my viewing was slightly interrupted by the frequent trips to the toilet. Despite the fact that they all had the option to go before the film started, and were offered the chance again every time I took one of them to the loo, I still had to leave the screen about 4 times for various different children who couldn't apparently sit through an hour and a half of movie without their bladders exploding. Maybe it was all the watery, sewer scenes that did it.

We got back to school and had about 45 minutes for lunch and then I took a DT lesson whilst the few of them that had to finished off their letters to Jamie Oliver. The rest of them made pop up Christmas cards with me. I found myself the only adult in the room, which was a little overwhelming for such a practical lesson.

Tomorrow I am being observed during geography. The kids are colouring in and labelling countries on a world map and going out in groups to do a treasure hunt. I need to get some bags of chocolate coins this evening to use as the treasure.

If I can just get through tomorrow I know I can relax a little bit, although my class teacher is doing her final observation of me in numeracy on Thursday. Tomorrow I get a free lunch as it's school Christmas dinner, but I'm worrying I won't even have time to eat it as I'll be careering round the school like a headless chicken trying to ensure everything is set up for geography. My link tutor this year seems much harder to please than the one I had last year and I feel a bit like nothing is ever good enough, which is frustrating when I have worked so much harder at my placement this year, despite personal circumstances that are different but still as stressful as what I was going through during placement last year. I haven't missed one day of school this year and I am proud of that. I missed quite a few days of my last placement due to combinations of a battered immune system (that I constantly seem to have) and stress (that I also constantly seem to have!).

I have to make sure my folder is up to scratch for tomorrow, although the link tutor won't completely sign me off until the placement has finished and I have my final report from my class teacher, but I'm still going out tonight. I think if I were to stay home I'd get the work done fairly quickly and then have the rest of the evening to stress myself out or procrastinate for hours and get it done around 11:30, having stressed myself out for the entire evening up to that point because I hadn't got it done. If I go out, I have to get it done beforehand and then can spend a couple of hours chilling with some friends (in the house I've been invited to move into! YIKES!).

Yeah, I'm still freaking out about that because I HAVE ENOUGH TO THINK ABOUT ALREADY. SERIOUSLY!

Ali invited me to spend Christmas with her and her family, which sounds like quite a good plan. Part of me would still rather ignore Christmas altogether, but I know I can't really do that and probably would end up feeling totally miserable. Which is not embracing the Christmas spirit.

I guess I still have a few decisions to make... Watch this space.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I don't know where my brain is either, Emmett

This morning Johnny came in late. He sat down during the register and the teacher said, "Don't you have something to say to me, Johnny?"

"Packed lunch, please Miss L," Johnny replied.

The teacher looked at him with raised eyebrows.

"Sorry I'm late," I hiss at him.

"Oh. Sorry I'm late, Miss L," said Johnny.

"Don't think your brain's quite in gear yet this morning, is it Johnny?" Asked the teacher.

Johnny looked sheepish.

Emmett piped up. "My brain's gone somewhere."

It's not been a bad day. While the kids rehearsed their Christmas play, I finished off my display on 'What's in the news'.

I was very proud. The gaps at the top are annoying me, so I'm going to put in photos of the kids doing the treasure hunt I'm planning for them on Wednesday.

The kids had a literacy assessment to do today, which involved writing a letter to Jamie Oliver about how great his healthy school dinners are. Some kids really threw themselves into it and got the rough draft and the final copy done quite quickly. Others....not so much.

Emmett only had about two lines written while most kids were finishing off their rough drafts. I went over to try and encourage him to write more. He wasn't having it. He told me he had a headache. I told him to get a drink of water and then try again. Then he told me he couldn't write any more because the pencil was making his thumb thinner!!

In the end we sent him over to the round table to sit with the classroom assistant while he worked. He had still hardly written anything by the end of the day and Miss L shouted at him. About 5 minutes later I wandered back over and he'd written quite a bit. However, this is what it said:

"I don't like healthy food. I hate it. It's not nice. It's stupid. I don't want vegetables. I hate fruit. It stinks. I don't want healthy food."

The classroom assistant said, "Emmett, were you actually listening during the talk on the carpet?"

He scowled. "He knows exactly what he's supposed to write," I said. "He's just written this because he's having a strop."

He's not booked in on the cinema trip tomorrow to see Flushed Away so he'll have to do it then. Poor kid - double whammy!

I'm off out tonight to see my friend Ali. Yay! Maybe I will come back with another photo of a bowl of rejected olives.....who knows!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The things kids say

Heard yesterday, but then forgotten about until just now, when it made me chuckle again:

Chef (visiting the school to teach kids about healthy eating): Now, who can tell me what this is? (Holding up a melon)

Taylor: A tango!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I am thankful for (semi) long weekends. And Emmett.

It's not been a bad day. The kids were okay. I had to teach them the 12 Days of Christmas song as the deputy head just realised the only day he will be able to record the tracks for the school Christmas CD is Monday! Yikes! It went okay though. All my lessons went pretty well today.

One little girl told me today about her trainers. How she'd got them because a lorry broke down and they fell off the back. Yes, she really believes that they fell off the back of a lorry. Interesting. And quite an insight into the kind of school I am in.

I went over to a friend's house tonight and had a good girly chat and watched a DVD. It was fun. Then her husband got back and we had a crazy random chat (the best kind, in my opinion) about various weird urban legends, like the fact that KFC is called KFC instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken because they now use genetically modified birds that are so far from being chickens they don't even have beaks. It was pretty fun.

I also had another cool bonding session with my class teacher after school. She came in once her course was finished so we could plan next week's numeracy and literacy lessons together. Once we finished we had a loooooong chat, about men mostly.

I have uni tomorrow. And then the afternoon off. Woohoo! I am meeting a friend for lunch. Should be cool. Although I am gonna have to do a lot of work on Saturday. Still, I feel a bit like the weekend's come early, which is always nice.

Written on Emmett's homework (by Emmett): This is hard. Too hard for Emmett.

Kid CRACKS me up!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Emmett: Mishaps and Musings" will be out in hardback in the spring

Okay, I'm lying about the book. But it is a great idea. It would totally sell. Well, I'd buy it, haha.

It's been another long and exhausting day. My class teacher is on a course again tomorrow, which in a way feels quite a relief because she won't be there to watch me and I'm not feeling 100% inspired right now. I just want to get through the day. The Friday I have a university-based day, going over classroom layout and timetabling (woohoo! I know, can't you just feel the excitement bubbling up!) which still means leaving the house at the same time in the morning, but I finish at TWELVE, people. That gives me a whole afternoon to myself. Yay!

I am nearing the end of week four of my placement. I am now just over halfway through. You cannot believe the relief I am feeling thinking that. I know I want to be a teacher, and teachers generally are in school 5 days a week, however many weeks a year (39?) but it's all the ridiculously detailed planning and evaluating that is wearing me out so much, and that's not a prerequisite for teaching, only for learning to teach.

On the plus side, there is a school trip to the cinema in a couple of weeks and I get to go. So that should be fun. We're going to see Flushed Away, which does look quite amusing.

And I'll just leave you with the picture of Emmett, painstakingly copying out his joined up handwriting practice and failing to join up ANY of the letters. Not a single one!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

From the mundane to the ridiculous

I got home at six today, same as yesterday. I think this is going to be the regular pattern now up til Christmas. Only 3 days til the weekend.

My observation went okay. The DVD didn't really work as for some reason the picture was really blue. Apparently this is because it was a region 1 DVD and the projector didn't like it, even though the DVD player it was being played on was multi-region. Hmm. Anyway, it was okay and now it's over. We have a final observation booked for 5th December - geography - should be all right, I hope.

And a quick update from the latest escapades of Emmett:
In RE today, lower ability had multiple choice questions based on scriptures. The learning objective was to think about what it means to be friends of God. One particular scripture they had was Jesus' commandment to love one another as he has loved us. The question was "What does John say about being friends with God?"
a) It doesn't make any difference to our lives.
b) We should love each other like He loves us.
c) We should love God but not be too bothered about other people.

Guess which Emmett picked? C!

He does make me laugh.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Something fishy going on....

So, today I met up with a friend of mine and we went for lunch at Bluewater. It was lovely, and my friend got a staff discount in La Tasca because she works in the one up at Canary Wharf. Woo!

We wandered around the shops afterwards and as we were walking around the upper level I looked over the balcony and saw a stand advertising Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil. They had a gigantic inflatable fish!

I had to go for a closer look. There was a bloke in a fish suit! My friend didn't want to be associated with a person taking photos of a guy in a fish suit - I'm not sure why, I thought it was hilarious! - so stood a little distance away while I snapped a couple of shots.

Man in a fish suit

Huge inflatable fish

We had fun. We went and tried on some dresses as I'm her bridesmaid and she wanted to get some ideas for her dress and mine. Found some gorgeous dresses. I saw one I so want for a black tie dinner I have coming up soon. But it's £145 and I really can't justify it, but it's sooooooooooo nice. *sigh*

Oh well, I better get to bed. Just wanted to share with you the crazy things you can see in an English shopping centre. Haha.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Emmett, you little genius!

So, I had this day of non-contact time today. Alongside the reams of lessons I had to plan and assessment records I had to fill out, I also had a hefty pile of marking of all the work the kids have done this week. Their geography topic this term is 'What's in the news' and on Tuesday I had them writing news reports in pairs, based on watching Monday's episode of News Round, the BBC's children's news programme.

So we watched the show, took notes and then I put them into pairs so that the lower ability children would be working with higher ability children. There was an odd number of children in the class that day as one little boy was off sick, so Emmett and Conrad (the boy with the mullet) were also working with Nick. Nick and Conrad are both quite able and Emmett (as I mentioned before) is not so able.

Emmett was having a bit of an off day (although clearly not as off as Wednesday, when he got the ball stuck on his finger). I'm sure it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, but the three of them would not co-operate and no matter how many times I told Emmett to work with the other two, he flatly refused and continued to work on his own. I got frustrated but ultimately left him to it.

I hadn't looked at the finished products until today. They were required to write the news report like a script, so they could perform it, with the best one being performed in their class assembly in a week and a half. This is how Emmett's went:

Emmett: Hello and welcome to News Round. A penguin was trapped in the ice in Antarctic.
Nick: Some film directors saved the penguin.
Conrad: Also, in Portugal there is a chocolate festival.
Emmett: Now we will be back after the break (NB, News Round is a BBC programme - there are no advert breaks on the BBC!)
Nick: Welcome back.
Emmett: There was a 'bird factor' (play on words used in News Round). Birds were singing in Colombia.
Conrad: I've got a small brain.

I laughed out loud to myself in the staff room when I read that. It actually said "I've got a smal bran" but I got the gist of it.

I was just so impressed that he had done something so funny. Of course, I didn't quite know how to mark it. Up to that point I'd been ticking each news item he mentioned, but then that....I was slightly speechless. It seems sometimes, despite appearances, the kid is very much on the planet!

I managed to get through the whole pile of marking and plan about 7 lessons, although I still have so much to do. Wah! I really hoped I'd get more done today and have the weekend to myself. Next week I'm going to stay later after school each day and get marking done as it happens.

But still. Weekend! Woooooohoooooo!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I am NOT talking about Christmas

So there Beka ;P
Let us speak of it no more...

Not that I have much of anything else to say. I am just so tired. Only one more day til the weekend. Woo!

My class defied the laws of physics in science today. Yes, a bunch of seven and eight year olds outwitted Einstein (or whoever it was that invented magnets, c'mon, I'm going to be a Primary school teacher, I don't need to know advanced stuff). They were testing the strength of different sized and shaped magnets by measuring at what distance they would attract a paperclip. They were circulating from table to table in their groups, testing different magnets at each station.

Halfway through the experiment some of the highest ability kids approached me with a pair of magnets. They were the red and blue plastic coated ones that we use for most magnet experiments. They are good because one end is red and one is blue, so they are excellent for demonstrating the principles of north and south poles. Or at least, they were.

"Look, Miss," one of the girls said, holding up the two magnets.

She then proceeded to press the two blue ends of the magnets together and let go. The magnets stuck. I took them off her and pulled them apart. Then I put them together again. I could feel the magnetic pull. I reversed them and pressed the red ends towards each other. I could feel the identical polarities pushing away from each other as they should. I tried the red end to the blue end. They attracted as they should. I put the blue end to the blue end again. They pulled towards each other.

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Nothing!" They protested, then acquiesced, "Well, actually it came apart so Erica* put it back together but she must have put it back the wrong way round."

I then informed them that they had, in fact, defied the laws of physics because I had (and have) NO CLUE how they managed to reverse the polarity of one end of a magnet. It's all kinds of wrong. Talk about messing with the natural order of things!

*NB. From this point on, when I mention a kid by name, just assume it is not their real name. It will save me typing a little "not real name etc etc" every time :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How many scary Google hits will I get for a post containing the words 'finger' and 'balls'?

I am exhausted and a little bit miserable. The horrible cold, grey weather doesn't help. Nor does the fact that I am in school for pretty much all the daylight hours at the moment. I left at 5 today. It was totally dark.

My class teacher observed me during literacy today. It went well. She wrote nice things. All in all, today was a lot better. The class responded much better and after taking on board the feedback from my class teacher, they responded even better than that. (Very useful piece of information: if the class is talking on the carpet when you are trying to talk, get them to discuss the point in question with the person next to them for a minute or so - totally gets it out of their system and then they shut up again)

I'm all planned for tomorrow. I will be very glad when tomorrow is over and I can spend all day Friday in the staff room (schweeeeeeet) planning for next week. I have realised the best way to deal with this is one day at a time. That way it's not too overwhelming. It's working.

I saw one of the kids laughing at my picture on the visual timetable today. Grrrr. He's gonna get it! (Joke!!) But still, not helpful to my battered self esteem.

There is this boy in my class, Emmett (not real name, you know the drill blah-de-blah-de-blah) who is the funniest little character. Poor thing gets bullied quite a lot, but unfortunately it is easy to see why. The minute someone does anything to him, no matter how tiny, he is telling on them VERY LOUDLY. Sorry, Emmett, but that is not how to win friends and influence people. The class teacher has a real soft spot for him, and so do I. He's a cutie. One of those kids that somehow manages to look more like a little man than a boy. He gets het up about anything and will actually shake his fists when he's angry. It's the cutest thing, although he probably wouldn't appreciate that we think that way. My class teacher is very good friends with his mum, so we have a bit of a giggle with her in the playground after school.

He's not the brightest button in the box and sometimes you feel like he's not quite on this planet. Today though..... I am supposed to be meeting these professional standards set by the government, and laughing at a child is probably not one of them, but I swear, it was the funniest thing. The class teacher laughed too. The whole class laughed, bless him. But he was quite good humoured about it.

It was during PE. I was teaching, but because of insurance students HAVE to have a qualified teacher with them, which isn't the case with other lessons (hence me being all alone with the class yesterday). I had them practising ball skills - batting and bowling - with plastic racquets and airtex balls - you know, the hollow plastic ones with holes in so the air whizzes through them. Holes that are almost the perfect size to accommodate a child's finger. I say 'almost' because, as we learned today, they are big enough to let in said child's finger, but not quite big enough to let it out again.

The kids had been practising bowling to each other and I called them back to the front of the hall to talk them through the next activity. Suddenly, there's a commotion and in the centre of it is Emmett, finger held out like ET, white airtex ball firmly wedged onto it. And I laughed. I couldn't help it. It was hilarious! The poor little thing eventually had to have the caretaker come and cut it off with a pair of wire cutters. That image will stay with me for a long time.

So it's not all bad! The kids are sweet and funny and I love every one of them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Commercial Breakdown Part II

Apart from the fact that my televisual viewing is now swamped by irritatingly saccharine scenes of children rushing down the stairs on Christmas morning to gleefully tear the wrapping off some highly overrated toy and every shop promising the lowest prices, there are a couple of adverts that are irritating the snot out of me right now. And I just can't keep it in any more. Something has to be said:

Kerry. Kerry, Kerry, Kerry. Please get off my screen. You may have won I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, but frankly, who cares? I would rather scratch my own eyes out with a pencil than have to witness another painful explanation of why "mums go to Iceland". I guess we all love a good trainwreck and you amply provided such after your split from Brian McFadden, but watching you exercise your somewhat limited acting abilities over a pack of buy-one-get-one-free spring rolls is like actually climbing inside said trainwreck and stepping dismissively over the strewn bodies.

It's fine for Jamie Oliver to promote Sainsbury's. It makes sense - he's a chef. And Prunella Scales did a good job for Tesco a few years back as that amusing yet slightly irritating mother-in-law. But Kerry, nothing puts me off shopping in Iceland more than your nasally whine and apparent orgasms over the stocky guy in overalls who delivers your weekly shop in his "cool van". (Just FYI, Kerry, a van that has Iceland emblazoned on the side - not exactly a hot set of wheels.)

Bottom line, Kerry, you just don't pull off the down-to-earth mum that Iceland seems to want to present. Instead you come across as a desperate wannabe who had her 15 minutes of fame, did her time in rehab and now will do anything to stay on TV. Please, just stop.

The other ad that makes my flesh want to crawl off my body is for Bisto's new cooking sauces. I get what they're trying to do. It's a fact that not nearly enough British families sit down for a meal together regularly. And I do believe that a lot of the problems in our society stem from the family. I don't believe, however, that coming together over a pot of chicken and Bisto sauce is going to cure society's ills. The various children's voiceovers talking about how they want "Dad home from werrrrk, on time" and "Our holideh in Majorceh" grate like nails on a blackboard and the whole thing comes across as completely patronising. Because we never realised that families were supposed to eat together. Thank you Bisto, we could never have figured that out on our own. Please tell us more. Any ideas on the war in Iraq?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

When Doves cry

Today has been a bit of a non-day. I haven't really got anything productive done yet. I've mostly been curled up on the couch, watching my new Little Mermaid DVD and feeling sorry for myself because that sore throat I was talking about has developed into into full blown phlegm attack. I know, nice, right?

Still, I wanted to talk about that Dove ad that's doing the rounds. I've seen it linked a few places, but I can't actually remember where, so sorry to those people who have posted it, because I can't remember who to thank. Anyway, here it is:

I'm so pleased that a company like Dove is talking about the problem of body image, because it feels sometimes like the world is happy to sit back and watch us all try to attain a completely unachievable ideal.

I know I am constantly conscious of 1001 things I think are wrong with my appearance. Talking to some of my friends I wonder if there's a girl in all the Western world who is happy with how she looks and doesn't have a difficult relationship with food.

It feels like we are constantly being lied to just to sell products. This only has 90 calories, this has less than 5% fat, this will increase your metabolism and help you lose weight. But does that make any of those things actually good for us? I know somewhere deep inside me, that the best way to eat is to have a balanced diet, low in refined sugars and saturated fats, but with a balance of all the different food types. But I shy away from it, convinced that it can't be right to eat three meals a day, because surely 3 whole meals will make you fat.

Are carbs good or bad? Is meat beneficial or are we better off eating other subsitutes? Dairy is generally full of fat, but the calcium in it is very good for us. How did the women of the world survive before Ski Fat Free Yoghurts?

This panoply of ideas leaves me confused, hopping from one concept of healthy to another, standing in the aisle of the supermarket for 15 minutes staring at the variety of diet pills and wondering if any of them actually work. If I skip a few meals my body craves sugar and I end up pigging out on a variety of high fat, high sugar snacks. I have also yet to find a form of exercise I really enjoy, apart from dancing, but I feel intimated by the other girls at dance classes with their amazing co-ordination, perfect hair and svelte physiques.

Will we ever be satisfied with being bigger than a size six (US size 2)? (Which, by the way, I have never and will never be a size 6.) Because I see those Dove commercials and I love the message they're giving, but I look at all the curvy women in their underwear and think, "No, I don't want to look like that." Because straight afterwards Kate Moss parades across my screen reviving her skin with a simple application of the latest Rimmel foundation and she looks simply stunning and how can the rest of us ever compete?

So keep it up, Dove. And maybe one day you'll convince the rest of us of what we really, really need to know.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Talkin' 'bout procrastination

That whole efficiency thing I had going for a while? Yeah, that was just a phase. Regular service has been resumed. I am hopelessly inefficient.

I started my 7 week block placement today and realised I hadn't yet made contact with my Link Tutor - the guy who has to come in and observe me teaching 3 times over the next 7 weeks. We were told to make contact with our tutors over a week ago. Oops!

Also I was supposed to have read through the school's policies and medium-term plans. Yeah, didn't do that either. Also I need to purcahse some kind of sandwich filling this evening, otherwise my sandwiches are going to be pretty, well, empty and tasteless tomorrow. I feel so disorganised that I don't think I will ever get organised. It frustrates me so much.

But school was fun. One of the kids has this weird patch shaved out of the side of his head. The teacher and I were debating whether or not he'd had a lobotomy over the holidays, but it turns out his dad accidentally left the cover off the clippers and instead of giving the kid a number 2 all over, gave him a 0 in this one single stripe, but then the kid's mum wouldn't let the dad do 0 all over, so the rest was done as usual with the clippers on a number 2. But the poor kid has this practically bald patch. It does look funny.

I got to leave pretty early as my teacher had netball club after school so there wasn't much for me to stay for. Instead I got to deal with the crazy people who drive down the country lanes I have to take to get to school. It's insane. Most of the lanes have a 40mph limit, which personally I think is crazy as they are rarely wide enough for two cars to comfortably fit down side by side and are full of blind corners that are so sharp you have to take them in 3rd gear. And yet some maniacs still whizz down there at 40, practically taking my wing mirror with them. Not to mention the idiots who seemed to conveniently forget that when a car is parked on their side of the road I have right of way, but just continue bombing it down the road, swinging out around the parked car and nearly plowing into my front bumper. Get off the road, morons!

Well I'm going to sit down and have a cup of tea and then try and get something productive done (we'll see!) before I have to go out again. I've been going to a new church for a couple of months and one of the girls there invited me out for dinner. I'll check back in later if I have anything interesting to say.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A little something to make you smile...

I found this on Metrodad's blog. It made me smile so I thought I'd share it with you. Hope you're all having a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Productivity down 50%, Amusement up 200%

Well, it has been a long couple of days. I haven't stopped and yet I really haven't got very much of anything done (story of my life!).

I met up with my friend J in London yesterday and we had breakfast in Cafe Rouge before heading across the river to the Tate Modern. It is often said that as a nation, we Brits like to queue. OMG, the queues! The slides on the lower floors had massively long queues to get on them (mostly children, flippin' half term holidays grrrrrrrrr) and the slides on the upper floors required a ticket, which was free, but there were none left. Wah! So we didn't get to go sliding after all. Which was so annoying because the slides looked so cool!

We went to the bookshop there because I wanted to see if I could find useful stuff for school, which I didn't. Again, totally unproductive. But there were these totally cute lego-type figures of artists with their artwork. They were available to buy for the bargain price of £325! But they were cute. Here is Dali with his lobster phone:

So we then decided to go to the Saatchi gallery. We considered getting a boat down the river, but ultimately decided a stroll down the South Bank would be quite pleasant, so we walked down to County Hall. Before we got there we decided we were quite hungry, so crossed the Hungerford bridge and ended up walking right up to Covent Garden and had lunch in Walkabout.

After this we walked back across the river and up to County Hall. Only the Saatchi isn't there any more! I can't believe we didn't know this. Again, totally unproductive. So we walked BACK across the river and headed up to Leicester Square. I did however manage to take some pretty cool pictures from the many bridges that we crossed.

These are the best I think, but I may well upload the rest to Flickr at some point in the near future.

Anyway, we went to Leicester Square and possibly the best place in the whole of London - the Haagen Dazs Cafe!

And we saw the pancakes and everything was good. Then we ate the pancakes. Oh, man was that good?! Then we walked back up to Covent Garden to meet another friend of ours.

I'd hoped to have had my car back and to go to the cinema with Ali last night, but my car was still at the garage, not being worked on but just sitting there whilst my mum and step dad tried to contact another mechanic they know of. So I was carless and figured I may as well stay in London.

The three of us went back to Walkabout and had some wine. Then we went to Victoria to meet some other friends - friends I hadn't seen in about 2 years. So it was proper reunion-styley! The wine did flow and J came back to stay at mine, being slightly the worse for wear.

This morning I had to go and pick up my car and book it back in for next Thursday. I'm going to have to figure out what I'm going to do for transport whilst it's in the garage. Ugh, so much to think about!

So then I dropped J at the station and then drove to another friend's house so we could go shopping. I spent the day with her and got home at like half ten this evening! Madness I tell you! But fun madness.

I leave you with a picture of me on Waterloo bridge. The wind is blowing my hair and has crafted it into a suspiciously mullet-like shape. I nearly wet myself laughing when I saw this picture. But as you can see from the picture below, I in no way shape or form have a mullet. Okay!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I don't do mornings....or afternoons....evenings I'm okay with!

It's been a busy weekend and I am still reeling from it. One day I will stop feeling tired. Don't know when that might be though. Maybe I am diabetic or have Chronic Fatigue. Or maybe I just need to get more sleep and stop being such a hypochondriac, haha.

I am so grateful to have most of this week off, although I still have lots to do. A huge backlog of housework being a major part of that. I also have to do a whistlestop tour of the London art galleries to do some background research for art. This may or may not be influenced by the fact that the Tate Modern currently has an exhibit consisting of actual slides that one can actually slide down.


The weekend was okay. Being with my family is never exactly a walk in the park, but it was bearable and I was able to help my brother and cousin celebrate their birthdays, which is the important thing. They're 22 now - makes me feel so old! They were born on the same day, the two sisters (my mum and my aunt) being down the corridor from each other in the same ward of the same hospital. My brother is older by 9 hours. There was an article about them in a national paper when they were born.

I was supposed to go to a party when I got back last night, but after the two hour drive back I didn't feel much like getting dressed up and going out, so I caught up on all my blog reading instead. I know, I am the epitome of coolness.

However, I am about to go out tonight, so need to rush off in a minute to sort my hair out (cursed rain!) and reapply my makeup.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Portrait of the artist as Dorothy

Today has been a looooooong day. And I have been badly organised with my time and have just come home about half an hour ago and had to pack a bag because I'm going down to my mum's new house tomorrow straight from uni.

So I won't be around for a couple of days. I'll miss you guys!

Today was good, we had art and music. Both were fun. We had to take a photo of ourselves to art and as soon as our tutor started talking about self portraits I died a little inside, because, as you all witnessed yesterday, I am rubbish at drawing.

BUT, we weren't drawing, we were painting. And we had Van Gogh for inspiration and then had a variety of different paints to create different textures, eg. mixing with sand or sawdust or wallpaper paste and only the primary colours. It was brilliant and I was really pleased with the result, check it out!

So, I'm gonna be off for a couple of days now, but I'll see you all soon, hopefully with something interesting to say. Haha.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

School Daze

So, I finished my first day of school. I have another placement day to do next Wednesday and then I start my block placement on 30th October and carry on until Christmas. I'm with a Year 3 class, which is nice, but I was with Year 2 last year, so it won't be that different, even though they're the next National Curriculum KeyStage up. The school is small - only one class per year group - but it's in an area where most of the kids have very disturbed home lives. A lot of them are Travellers.

Today during lunch, one of the Year 4 boys peed on another one. Right up his back so it can't possibly have been an accident.

During numeracy I sat with a girl who has a lot of problems focussing. Their task was to estimate and then measure straws of different lengths. Each straw was colour coded so they could colour code their answers on the worksheet. I held up a straw.

Me: Okay Sharon (not real name, could get in trouble otherwise!), how many centimetres do you think this is?

Sharon: Purple!

Me: Umm, okay, yes, it is a purple straw, but how LONG do you think it is? How many CENTIMETRES?

Sharon: Purple!

Me: *sigh*

To be fair, she did estimate a fair few and was pretty close to the mark, even when she wasn't, they were still reasonable estimates. But a few times she did just repeat the colour over and over.

At one point the teacher was asking the whole class about using different units of measurement. For example, what units of measurement would you use to measure a stamp (millimetres), a cup (centimetres), a garden (metres) and a journey (kilometres).

Teacher: So why wouldn't you use centimetres to measure from here to the moon?

Kid: Because there's no oxygen.

That kid's on the ball! I managed to learn all their names in one day, but I bet I forget most of them by next week. I'm still kind of ill, but not as bad as yesterday (thank goodness!). I got my dad the funniest card for his birthday. It's so apt.

Outside says: Here it is Dad - the latest breakthrough in birthday cards. Inside reads: You can read it without taking your eyes off the TV!


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Maybe crusts do make your hair go curly

You know, when I was a baby, my hair had a subtle wave to it. It was never curly, but it might have been described as wavy. By the time I was three it was more or less straight. From 5 onwards it was dead straight. Poker straight. See exhibits 1 - 3:

Exhibit 1: Top infants school photo

Exhibit 2: Me playing twister aged 8

Exhibit 3: Me at New Year's aged 22

I was always a fussy child and refused to eat the crusts off my sandwiches, despite my mum telling me "They're the best bit!" No kid believes an adult when they tell them that. My friend used to tell me they make your hair go curly. I think that was supposed to encourage me to eat them, but it put me off even more. I didn't really believe it, but I thought well if it was true it gave me even more reason not to eat them, because I liked my straight hair thankyouverymuch!

The weird thing is that about a year or so ago, I noticed that my hair, which I usually tended to let air dry, wasn't exactly dead straight any more. Okay, so I'd usually tie it back when it was wet, but not always. I bought a hair dryer, but I just couldn't get it to really dry straight straight. In the end I bought hair straighteners, which I love and couldn't live without and for the most part I wash my hair, blow dry it and straighten it all at the same time (not literally at the same time, obviously, but one after the other when I wake up in the morning).

But from time to time I've let it just air dry after washing it and OMG. It is really quite curly now. How did that happen?

Exhibit 4: Me half an hour ago

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On your doorstep

There is a park near me that I quite often walk through to get to the High Street. It takes about the same amount of time to get there, but it's a slightly more scenic route with the grass and the trees and the ducks and the pond (which hopefully doesn't stink, as it tends to do when it dries out!). During the summer it's really quite a pleasant walk.

But I don't know if I'll be making that particular trip for a while now, after this happened. It's scary. My area isn't the nicest area around. I live at the more chavvy end of town. But I don't think twice about walking for 15 minutes down to the late night garage just before midnight if I'm craving a milkshake or something (the 15 minute walk makes up for the calories consumed!).

It's so scary to think these things can happen so close to home, and even first thing in the morning you're not safe. What is the world coming to? Seriously?

**UPDATE: The guy who stabbed her has been arrested. So at least that's good news!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

There's nothing like the bond between a father and his daughter!

It wasn't until I was filling out a form this afternoon and had to write the date that I realised, "Oh, CRAP! It's my dad's birthday!"

I'd remembered at the weekend and half-heartedly thought that I should 1) text him and find out what he wants (Sidenote: He is impossible to buy for because he buys himself all the latest DVDs, CDs, gadgets and gizmos and we always end up getting him something totally lame) and 2) actually go and get him a card and a present early this week. But then what with everything that's going on in my life right now, and the problem with my leaky brain, it TOTALLY went out of my head until this afternoon.

I'm not close to my dad at all. I usually see him about once every couple of months I suppose. He's usually pretty good with our birthdays - better than he used to be anyway - but it's kind of a bit, out of sight, out of mind. He's really not a big presence in my or my brothers' lives, so it is kind of hard to remember things like this. One year we all forgot Father's Day and he didn't speak to us for about a month. Ironically, we didn't realise for about three weeks, because it isn't like he rings us all the time anyway. And in the end, after I'd asked my brothers a few times if they'd heard from him and they'd said no, I eventually rang him and found out he hadn't been talking to us.

Well, that clearly worked.

Anyway, when I realised it was 2pm and I hadn't wished him happy birthday yet, I sent a speedy text message saying I was pretty busy this week, but if he wanted to do something to celebrate to let me know and I'd see what I could do.

This is the text I got back:

Thanks for your message. Am out in Thailand
at the moment. Back in UK on Sunday.
Perhaps we can do something next week.

This is the second time I've texted him on his birthday only discover he's not even on the same continent as me! This just shows how close we are. Thanks for letting me know, Dad!

Monday, September 25, 2006


I am feeling much better. Still not so much with the sleeping, but not sick anymore, so that's a bonus.

Have you seen that website I Used To Believe? It's an amusing read. People submit the crazy things they used to believe when they were little, like believing you could grow potatoes in your ears if you didn't wash behind them properly. (Anyone else's parents tell them that? No? Just me then!)

There are lots of funny and crazy things kids believe. I think it's because when we're little, we're so much better at the whole suspension of disbelief thing. Once we get older we need proof, but before the age of, what, 11 or 12 we take most things totally at face value.

I will never forget the day the 'Smiley Gang' was spotted near my school. I must have been 9 or 10. It was just a regular day at school. My junior school was huge so each year group had their own playground. I must have been in Year 5, because I have clear memories of the discussion taking place in the Year 5 playground.

It was morning break and we were all doing our thing, as kids do. The boys were living up to the stereotypical "jumpers-for-goalposts" scenario, with the goalie playing monkey rush because there were only 3 or 4 on each team, and us girls were dotted around in twos or threes walking and talking hand in hand, or playing clapping games, feeding into another cliche. I was with my friend who for this purpose I shall call Hannah.

Hannah and I were walking the perimeter of the playground, trying to avoid the stray footballs that resulted from the boys' poor aim. The twins came up to us looking scared. We asked them what was wrong.

"Have you heard of the Smiley Gang?" Asked twin number one.

"No," Hannah and I whispered, desperate and yet deathly afraid to hear more. The nature of this particular gang suggested by their name was not backed up by the tone of twin number one's voice.

"They're this gang that drives around in this blue van," said twin number two. "They wait around for kids and then if they catch you they get a knife and make tiny little cuts in the corners of your mouth. Then they put acid on it."

"Acid? On the cuts?" I was horrified.

"Yeah, but that's not the worst of it," said twin number one, relishing the moment. "Then they punch you in the stomach and it makes your face rip right along the cuts. That's why they're called the Smiley Gang, 'cause they give you this big huge smile for the rest of your life."

Hannah and I were frozen to the spot at the very thought. "Why are you telling us about them?" Hannah whispered, dreading the response.

"Charlee saw a blue van on her way to school this morning," said twin number one. "That means they're around."

Hannah and I glanced around at the alleyway that ran adjacent to the playground on one side and the woodlands that sprawled for miles behind us. If you visit my old school now the woodlands is all fenced off, but in the early nineties the world was obviously still considered safe enough to allow children to play near the woods with minimal risk. We were not allowed to play in them, but of course we did, never straying far from the school, but daring each other to jump back and forth across the tiny stream that marked the boundary of the woods and the school.

Suddenly the woods that held so many happy memories seemed full of danger, evil positively resonating from the very trees.

The whistle blew and we lined up for class, but how much work we actually got done, who can say? The classroom buzzed with talk of the Smiley Gang. Suddenly more sightings were coming out of the woodwork. Things that had seemed innocuous hours earlier suddenly reinforced Charlee's story. Someone had seen smiley face stickers stuck on trees and the fence all down one side of the alleyway. That was the Smiley Gang's symbol, their way of marking their territory - territory in which they would hunt little children in order to give them a permanent 'smile'.

Lunchtime came verging on hysteria. Suddenly kids were seeing clues everywhere. No one from any of the six Year 5 classes would pass an imaginary line that would place them too close to the woods. Hannah and I hung out as close to the woods as we could stand, whispering to each other, on the verge of tears from fear, but compelled to look out for clues or sightings.

Lunchtime passed without incident. No children were discovered hideously disfigured. After a few days the rumours died down and we got used to playing close to and even in the woods again. But it was a long time before I really believed that the whole incident was make believe, based on rumours and urban myths.

For children, the monster under the bed is real. The vampire outside the window exists. The sadistic gang of villains is truly parked a block away from their school.

Despite how scared I used to be of even getting out of bed in the middle of the night, part of me is nostalgic for that time, when my whole world was dependent on the heights and depths of my imagination.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The politics of friendship

My friends are nagging me to go out with them tomorrow night. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my friends and love spending time with them, but there are two major flaws in their plan.

First of all, I am broke. Seriously broke. They have offered to lend me money, but it's a bit dodgy borrowing from friends isn't it? Plus, I am a nightmare for impulse buying and spending beyond my means and it's about time I had a word with myself and only spent money I actually have. (It's gonna be tough, but I'm gonna try!)

Secondly, the are going to a town near me, that I wasn't going to name, until I realised that I've tagged my two nearest train stations at London Bloggers so my location is hardly a secret. Even less so now that I've just announced to the Internet where they can discover my nearest two if you'd want to anyway.

Okay, that was a bit of a crazy run on sentence wasn't it? I'll try to do better.

Anyway, so my friends are planning on going to Bromley. Ugh. Why? Why? Why? Would anyone want to go to Bromley on a Friday night? Bromley is the nearest town to us with anything vaguely resembling a club, although in this instance these premises are best referred to as "the fiery meat markets of Hell". The only reasonable alternative for a night out beyond sitting in a pub (which, by the way, I'm more than amenable to, pubs are good, if not too smoky!) is London, which, although it isn't far, does tend to cost the gross domestic product of a small country if you want a good night out.

Not improving much with the run on sentences. And I allege to be good at English. Pah!

So yeah, I love dancing. A good night out dancing is one of my favourite things. But I don't do it often because London is expensive and Bromley.....O Bromley, why must you be so wretched?

Maybe it's because I'm getting old now (or older at least), but Bromley on a Friday night just does not hold the appeal it used to. I don't know if I've changed or if it has. It's possibly a little bit of both. But these are some of the thrills you can look forward to on a night out in Bromley:
  • Being groped, fondled or otherwise inappropriately touched on several many occasions
  • Breathing air composed entirely of cigarette smoke and evaporated sweat
  • Being surrounded by 14 year old girls in boob tubes and skirts that show their buttocks
  • Being surrounded by chavs, as this is what the majority of the population of Bromley is comprised of
  • Having at least one person drunkenly fall on you
  • Wondering what would happen if someone committed a crime somewhere other than the High Street as the entire Metropolitan Police force of Bromley gathers to deal with the drunken fights.
  • Having overpriced, greasy kebab-shop wares flung at you for no reason (yes this actually happened to me once)

Understandably I really have no desire to go, but I don't want to offend my friends or have them think that I look down on their choice of venue. If they want to go, they are welcome to and I won't judge them for it. I just don't have the temperament to stand it without getting irritated. I hope they can appreciate my feelings and not think I'm weird for preferring to spend my Friday night alone in front of the telly, than amongst drunken idiots (other patrons, not my friends - haha).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I am the lizard queen! *

* First person to correctly identify the quote in the title wins a year's supply of Cillit Bang. Why Cillit Bang? Because it is funny. At least, it is funny to me in my sleep deprived delirium.

It is possible, perhaps, that I am a little off the planet, having amassed an impressive 1 and a half hours sleep last night (or really it should be this morning as I drifted off around 9). Actually, it may be 2 hours if you include the half hour I snoozed the alarm. Which I don't. Because really, sleep that only lasts 10 minutes without interruption is really not worth counting.

So I got up at around 10:50 this morning. Mostly because I had a training meeting to get to this afternoon, but also because this whole being awake all night thing? Yeah, it's wearing a little thin.

So I crawled out of bed, bleary eyed and requiring vast amounts of caffeine and managed to make myself look semi-presentable (if you ignored the suitcases under my eyes that concealer just would not, like, conceal!). I walked down the road to the bus stop because due to complicated travel arrangements I had to meet a friend of mine in the next town, where she would have her car and then she would drive me, and others to and from the meeting, dropping me home afterwards.

I hate the bus. The bus sucks. But at least I got to chill out with my iPod and try not to fall asleep to the gentle roaring of the engine (which I decided to sit above, smart move). The worst thing about the bus, though, is the old people, who get on in their droves and then proceed to give me the dirtiest looks ever because I haven't given up my seat for them, even though there are like, 5 other empty seats all around!! At one point I looked up and they all seemed to be really scowling at me and I was all like What, my iPod is NOT that loud! But afterwards I looked at my phone and saw I had a missed call and realised that was probably what the evil eye was all about. At least when my friend calls me my phone plays 'Get Happy', which they should appreciate, it being an oldie and all, and not some crazy techno hiphop concoction that exists solely of swearing and sexual references, like the phones of most teenagers seem to these days.

(OMG I'm getting old!)

More disturbing than the assortment of moody old biddies on the bus, however, was the old guy jogging down the road. He wore nothing but a pair of fetching blue shorts, ensuring all who saw him got a perfect view of his saggy, jiggling man boobs. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

The training meeting was good. It's training for a charity I sometimes work for as a volunteer, who do assemblies and RE lessons in Primary schools. We were discussing the things that influence today's children - good and bad - and how this affects our work within schools. It was a fascinating discussion that brought up some interesting points of view, but the highlight for me was my friend's story about her little boy.

We were talking about the pressure children have to face these days that wasn't so prevalent before the National Curriculum, such as the fact that 7-year-olds have to take SATs. Her son has just gone into Year 2 (the first SATs year) and his teacher sounds like a bit of an ogre who is convinced she can make her whole class achieve level 3s (what the average 9-year-old achieves). A lot of the children in Dan's class have felt the pressure and there have been a lot of tears by the school gates in the morning. Apparently Dan was praying the other night, before he went to bed and said, "Dear God, Please give me a sore throat so I don't have to go to school tomorrow."

My friend said she was so shocked by his ability to think this through that she just went, "Errrr, amen!"

Kids say the funniest things!

Well, I'm off to wallow in my sleep-deprived delirium some more. Hopefully I will actually sleep tonight!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oh that's so much Beta

Conversation between me and a 13-year-old girl:

Her: Have you got that new MSN Beta?
Me: No. And it's pronounced BAY-TAH.
Her: Oh, I thought it was 'better' like when you text and you're like, "r u feelin beta now".
Me: No, it's not better it's beta. It's the second letter of the Greek alphabet.
Her: Oh right. I thought it was called Beta cos it's, like, better.

It was an amusing discussion at the time. And now, woooo, I've upgraded to Blogger Beta. Note to self: Beta DOES NOT mean 'better'. ARGH!!!

Does anyone actually understand XLS or whatever. I tried to put HTML tags in there and it was all "Erm, excuse me, but what do you think you are doing, sullying our beautiful XLS with your cheap and basic HTML."

So I was all like, "But I don't understand XLS. *sob* My knowledge of HTML is basic enough, dating back to when I made that David Duchovny fan site (that totally rocked) when I was 16. That was like, 9 YEARS AGO, people."

"Well your rudimentary HTML is not welcome here, please use our drag and drop layout editor instead. Even you can use that without too much trouble."

Well yah boo sucks to you Blogger Beta. You are annoying. And I will find a techie XLS-knowledgeable friend to help me too. Until then, my header will look a bit crap. Sorry people.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Commercial Breakdown

Since childhood I’ve always loved adverts. I would demonstrate a wider knowledge of TV commercials than the programmes they dissected. My grandad was in the industry, owning his own advertising partnership, so maybe this influenced my televison viewing, but I never nurtured an interest in entering the industry myself. I don't think I really have the creativity for it anyway. I am creative, but not in that way.

I like ads – good ads anyway. I like the way they can influence our thinking and persuade us of things we might never have thought.

On holiday a few weeks ago I was complaining about the current Skechers advert, a ‘Real World’ type set up where one housemate steals another’s Skechers and then accidentally damages them by leaving them too close to the water’s edge whilst making out with his girlfriend on the beach. It’s simply irritating – badly acted and pointless. A friend of mine questioned my complaint. “But you remember it though?”

“Yes, but it’s annoying.”

“But if you remember it, then it achieved its purpose.”

But I disagree. I may remember the advert, and personally, I am a fan of Skechers anyway, but even though I remember it, it DOES NOT make me want to buy a pair. It makes me want to poke toothpicks under the fingernails of the ‘actors’ in order to teach them a lesson about the pain their bad acting causes the general public.

The best adverts are not only memorable, but memorably GOOD. I can still recall with warmth the Milky Way advert that featured the cartoon and the little song about how “the red car and the blue car had a race.” And how old was I then? 10? But wasn't it great? I remain convinced that Milky Ways are far superior as an in-between-meals-snack choice than all that scrap metal the red car ate!

There are some abysmal adverts out now, such as the aforementioned Skechers one, but there are also some that I really love. Good adverts can be like mini-treats between TV shows, as interesting, exciting or amusing as any full-length programme. At the moment I’m loving the Quinn’s advert. Funnily enough, I’m not too bothered about sampling the product itself, but let’s face it, at the end of the day it is just another alco-pop. But the commercial itself is a pleasure to watch, particularly the longer version you get at the cinema. The poem and the graphics of the plants coming alive are beautifully Lewis Carroll-like, which I love, by the way, and the gravelly-voiced American woman who reads the words is an absolute pleasure to listen to – her voice has the kind of timbre that sends shivers down the spine. I could watch it over and over again, captured by the fairy-world hidden deep in the undergrowth where this product ‘grows’.

Another fantastic advert right now is the Mint credit card one. The Mint adverts have always been good, but the current ones are brilliant. Apparently for every clever thing that happens in the world, a very stupid one must happen to balance it out. So on one side of the world we see a man opening an envelope containing his new Mint card, offering 0% on purchases blah blah blah. So conversely, on the other side of the world, a woman is cleaning her patio doors and she walks up to the next window, leans forward to wipe it and falls through the open door. The first time I saw it I laughed out loud.

I'm wary of credit cards because I have one and it's mostly maxed out although I try to save it for emergencies (emergencies being, OMG I need that pair of shoes from that website and they don't accept Maestro), but if I was getting a credit card, I'd so get a Mint one. Or an Egg one 'cause those guinea pigs? Hilarious!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Water palaver

I am now in the last few weeks before I get the first installment of my student loan for this school year, so I'm sure you can imagine the current state of my finances. That's right, they are redder than Ronald McDonald's hair.

So imagine my dismay when I discover Thames Water have upped my monthly water bill from £17 to £47. Honestly, forty-seven pounds! So I rang them up to query this insane amount of inflation and was informed that as they bill from an estimate, it appears they underestimated my water usage from last year and so are billing me to make up the difference. But that increase seems ridiculously high. The woman I was speaking to asked me how many people live at my residence and I informed her, "Uh, just me."

Even she was shocked that one person could apparently use £47 worth of water every month. I swear I don't know how they could have come up with that estimate. I'm rubbish with washing and I always leave it festering in the laundry basket for AGES before seriously overloading my poor washing machine.

Well, she agreed to lower it to £30 a month for me (thanks so much!) and basically if at the end of the year when they actually check the meter I've paid way too much, they'll knock it off my monthly bills from next year. Great!

Until then I have to fork out £30 each month when I'm a poor, penniless student. This whole grown-up, independent, financial responsibility malarkey sucks!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

If I had a hammer...

So. Apparently I look like a 15-year-old!

I went into Wilkinsons today, to buy a hammer. I wanted to hang a picture, so I needed some picture hooks and a hammer as I lack even the most fundamental of tools. So there I am, perusing the fine selection of hammers available at Wilkinsons, when I'm approached by a security guard. "You want something from there?" He asks with unnecessary incredulity.

"Yes, I want a hammer."

"What you want a hammer for? You got ID?"

"ID? For a hammer?"

"Yes, ID, you have ID?"

I have a brief flick through my bag. "No, I don't have ID. But I'm 25. I didn't think I'd need ID. Especially just to buy a hammer."

"Well, it's the law that they will ask you for ID if you try to buy that. It's against the law. We have to ask for ID."

"Well, I'm 25," I insist, somewhat taken aback to say the least. "Anyway, it says there that ID may be asked for if you're trying to buy knives, blades or solvents. It doesn't say anything about hammers."

"Hammers are weapons. You could hammer someone over the head with them."

"Yes, but it doesn't say on the notice that you need ID to buy a hammer, it doesn't say there's an age restriction on that."

"You need ID."

"Fine, I'll get my hammer somewhere else."

And I did. Woolworths, as a matter of fact. And the lady who served me there didn't bat an eyelid when I placed my hammer on the counter in front of her. What is up with the world?