Friday, May 27, 2005

Service without a smile

So we popped out for a bite to eat last night(Thursday is the new Friday after all) and despite the pleasant company, good reputation of the chosen establishment and the fact that I was wearing my new very cool, this season wedge sandals, I still came away disappointed. I am currently in a state of disbelief over the extent of how rubbish basic customer service can get. Last night wasn’t the ‘waiter, I have a dead rat in my soup’ kind of experience and neither did I expect Lynn Faulds-Wood to pop up at any moment citing ‘ooh look, another potential deathtrap’ as she slid over a greasy floor onto a pile of knives in a random ‘Final Destination’ style incident, it was just that there was a complete lack of any sort of effort or attention from the waiting staff. How misguided it was for us to expect to actually be acknowledged when we entered… I guess it was also really unfair of us to assume that considering we had booked days before, there might actually be an available table, and I honestly didn’t realise that it was considered such bad form not to get settled and decide on your food and drink selection within 3 seconds of being seated… (And there I was thinking that I am a seasoned diner). The starter was okay once it finally arrived but the way it was slammed down in front of me was not. The main course was yummy but the fact that it arrived before we had finished our starters or had them cleared wasn’t ideal but when the waitress banged me on the head with my plate as she finally did get round to clearing, I was definitely slightly put out. She was sour-faced and unapologetic… and she was a waitress for god’s sake… we’ve all done it and basically it involves carrying food and being smiley so unless you’ve got a serious problem with multitasking, it’s soooo not brain surgery. No wonder they included a service charge on the bill (don’t even start me on that)… there was no way she’d ever get a tip otherwise…

Monday, May 23, 2005

How to avoid a bad boyfriend - Never date a love rat

So she decides that she should overlook the fact that he has a girlfriend. Apparently they are having some problems and certainly no sex... He is sure that his girlfriend is depressed, if not clinically insane and to split up with her would surely drive her over the edge. So she agrees to go out with him for a few drinks, and then a few more another day and then she spends the night. It is nothing to make the earth move... it's comfortable and easy - they laugh and they touch and she knows she doesn't need to worry about him falling in love with her so they carry on seeing each other, just because they can.
One evening, days later, she waits in the bar for him, nursing a drink and tapping her nails on the chrome. She turns to see a familiar face, a face she is used to seeing smiling from a frame at his bedside which is now glaring down at her. The girlfriend shouts, accusing her of making up lies about a relationship with him because she wants him and can't have him. The rest of the bar goes silent, disapproving eyes fixed on her taking the girlfriends side. She realises it's not worth arguing, the girlfriend is obviously a mug and the fact that she only has one arm is definately getting a sympathy vote from the crowd... Just as she is walking away, she sees him skulking in the shadows... he is loving the fact that he is a player. She vows to get even and stalks away, realising with a wry smile that the bit on the side always plays second fiddle (but having two hands has got to be best when it comes to making beautiful music together)...

Brief Encounters

Our first kiss was electric, charged up by seduction, the excitement heightened because that’s all it was – a kiss with the promise of something earth shattering to follow. Granted it was a kiss that spread and explored, investigated and tantalised but it was also polite and terrifying and bursting with the acknowledged potential for losing control. Our faces so close, as your lips touched my neck I could feel the heat from your skin… as your fingertips grazed my cheek, I’d swear there was static. I opened my eyes to catch you staring back… pupils dark and huge, and we were the only people who existed in the most crowded place on earth.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Keeping abreast of the situation

Currently the fashion for super slinky, flimsy sexy wisps of fabric that sensuously float around the torso makes the boob issue even more problematic than usual. These garments were obviously initially designed with the slim and sassy adolescent in mind, those girls who think they’ll keep their slender, toned, lithe bodies and their gravity defying bee-stung breasts forever… The problem is that boobs don’t stay like that for long… oh yes, we celebrate the subtle expansion that takes place throughout our teens, that gradual upgrading of underwear from white cotton vest tops to plunging and padded but then, along with your bosom, issues of practicality arise and you end up wearing some kind of scaffolding that just keeps them from wobbling when you run for the bus. When it comes to slipping into something slightly more sexy than a workshirt, finding suitable support is enough to make your chest heave. On the one hand there’s the nipple issue… although Samantha from Sex in the City positively encourages the sticky out look, most women find too much nipple exposure a little disconcerting, not to say distracting, and when standing in a chilly club queue there is the real danger of poking some poor unsuspecting short bloke’s eye out. Unsupported boobs look fine whilst you’re standing still, but there is something distinctly unattractive about the ‘double wobble’ as you descend the stairs, and the upturned leery faces gawping from below… not to mention the fact that it’s not vastly comfortable. The alternative for the halterneck lover is the complex and almost bondage-esque multiway bra. Once you’ve worked out where the various bits of elastic band hook together (It’s worse than Ikea furniture) and you’re trussed up like a Sunday roast, inevitably something ‘pings‘ and you’re back to square one. In addition these torturous items only seem to come in ‘nude’ a nasty shade of supposedly skin tone beige which if anybody actually matched, they would be partway through a long hospital stay. The other extreme, and the solution I chose for my Saturday night out is the ‘nipple sticker’ a cunning kind of plaster that sticks over your sticky-out bits but is completely invisible under the most diaphanous of designerwear. Admittedly they are a similar Elastoplast shade, but are thoughtfully flower shaped for a touch of femininity. They don’t exactly stop the wobble, but somehow make you feel more secure. The only problem is that like the ‘chicken fillet’ of your adolescent years you have to remember to remove them before undertaking any bedroom activity if you want to avoid horrifying your prospective partner… you know the scene, you seductively remove your top and he double takes, staring aghast ‘ yikes, I’ve never seen a woman with no nipples before’ … It’s difficult to regain the momentum after that… and beware, whisking them off hurts like hell.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Let us eat cake

This is the first office that I’ve worked in that on your birthday you celebrate by buying everyone else cakes. Being a typical, slightly dull office filled with people who, like me, think that the highlight of the day is lunch, the prospect of an array of tasty snacks to soak up a strong cup of tea is one that is anticipated with slavering. Consequently the pressure on the birthday girl or boy is huge… will they bring in the right amount? (not too stingy, but not so much that you show the previous person up as a tight-arse or set the standard too high for future celebrators) Will their selection be sufficiently superior? (Lidl or Aldi is not a popular choice, and Asda is similarly sniffed at). Will the choosy audience be impressed?…Anything chocolate usually goes down a storm – apart from Wagon Wheels which are deemed a bit pikey and for some reason the trusty flapjack is always a winner. Muffins are a failsafe, unless you opt for the bran ones which require way too much chewing… Cookies are okay but let’s face it, one is never enough and the politics surrounding being caught sneaking more than one snack can result in humiliation and being marked as an outcast. The most highly appreciated however will always be the homemade variety. I think the fact that we love the slightly random items, the squashed and the sunken, the cakes that have been lovingly if badly prepared by hand says something good about our company ethos (though what exactly, I’m not sure)…..
Top workmate managed to get his wife to make his cakes. Beautifully light and fluffy fairy cakes with frosty icing that made us wish he had more birthdays per annum, like the queen - and they disappeared like – er - hot cakes… He told me that they had caused a major dispute at home however because he had awoken that morning to find the cakes prepared to perfection, but nestling in the girliest of baskets, complete with checked gingham, bows and a lacy cover. At this point Top Workmate decided that the potential damage to his ‘rep’ that the basket could cause was a far worse cross to bear than the possible outburst from his wife, but he hoped she would remain upstairs whilst he hurriedly transferred the cakes to an ice cream tub. Predictably enough she appeared just as he was folding the tin foil over the top, but her hurt expression was nothing compared to the humiliation he would have felt crossing the carpark, laden with the frilly basket like red riding hood preparing to face the wolves. Needless to say I think it will be a while before we get to sample her wares again, but at least he’s got a whole year to sweeten her up.
And me? I pop down to the bakery counter at Waitrose where they do a great range of very homemade looking birthday cakes. Transfer them to Tupperware and everyone is convinced you made it yourself and you don’t have to worry about them being all stricken with Salmonella…

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Being at the beach

One of the best things about living where I do is that I’m always just a stumble away from the sea. The most perfect time to be there is when the sun is just dipping and the picnickers have packed up… it’s at its best when the sea has retreated back towards the horizon and the secret stretch of sand has been revealed, ridged and rippled and slick with seawater so it shines like a mirror and reflects the sky. The gangs of seagulls hang out at the waters edge, bickering and shouting and strutting their stuff and the skeleton of the pier darkens and creaks under the shadow of a million starlings.

Friday, May 06, 2005


I couldn’t put it off any longer, I have split ends on my split ends and every time I see Claudia S on the telly talking about her ‘hair that’s dry, like straw’ I reach for a headscarf… Yes folks, the hair-salon beckons and the prospect sends hairspray infused chills through my bones. Admittedly, part of the problem is that I’ve been thoroughly spoilt by my brother’s hairdressing skills for the last decade and now he’s no longer round the corner, I have to suffer at the hands of a stranger and my bank balance suffers a lot more too. I’ve tried the T&G experience… terrifyingly trendy, mean and moody and seemingly a range of three possible haircuts only (long and flicky, bob, or skull cap crop) so don’t bother to ask for anything else. Not only did the shampoo girl ask me three times what I was doing at the weekend (maybe she didn’t believe that I wasn’t going clubbing and taking vast quantities of coke as that was obviously what she had been up to the night before.. or maybe she couldn’t be arsed to listen to the answer) but she also told me I was too old for a mullet, that my hair looked very yellow - did I smoke a lot? And that I definitely needed the extra intensive conditioner for my damaged hair…. I barely managed to scrape up enough confidence to approach the cutting chair where I was put through a sequence of headache inducing towel drying, vigorous scalp scraping, some brisk and seemingly uncalculated snipping, and finally a bit of singeing under the dryer after which I was charged forty quid and told to ‘fluff it up a bit’ when I got home…. Hmmmmnn. Consequently I am booked into another salon for tomorrow so I’ll put some sort of hot oil treatment on my hair tonight, will arm myself with a picture of a fabulous hairdo which no-doubt will be ignored and keep my fingers crossed in the hope that I come out looking like ‘I’ve just stepped out of a salon’…..

Thursday, May 05, 2005

How to avoid a Bad Boyfriend - Never date an Actor

So she decides it’s time she stopped dating students. She needs a real man… with a job, a man who’s idea of a romantic night isn’t ‘drink the bar dry’ till he’s sick followed by a 2 for 1 pizza and an un-coordinated attempt at a snog (er yes…. you know who you are). When she spots him she knows that he fits the bill… well dressed in a slightly bohemian way (but obviously not wearing anything purchased with a student discount card in Burtons), his hair curls over his collar (and definitely isn’t styled by Supercuts). He has the air of a man in control and a twinkly, infectious smile that assures her that meanness isn’t a trait so she makes it her business to seduce him. It doesn’t prove to be difficult, she struts over, compliments him on his twinkly smile and raises the subject of his employment… he’s an actor (how glamorous) and the lead in a play… she must try and see it. Of course he’s done all the usual… The Bill and Casualty (and he assures her that in both he’d had actual speaking parts). Agents are clamouring to put him on their books and he’s always being called down to London for auditions. He gives her his card (complete with black and white soft focus photo) and she scribbles her number on his arm with her lipstick. They arrange to meet again and he promises to call her. He does… two weeks later… but he’s been busy and he’s sorry and he can’t wait to see her so she agrees. He postpones their first date… an audition has cropped up, and the he’s twenty minutes late for the reschedule. She is calmed only by the fact that he’s obviously working hard, will be able to keep her in the manner to which she has become accustomed and is still devastatingly handsome and twinkly. She gives him one more chance and he blows it by cancelling again at the last minute… 3 strikes and he’s out. The next week she sees him sharing an intimate drink with a glamorous must-be model (from the look of it they’ve been dating for months) and she’s glad she got rid of him. Time passes and years later she flicks on the TV. The adverts run and the most irritating ad known to man…the ‘Yes, Car Credit’ ad flicks up. She starts to laugh, can it really be that he is there on screen, wearing the lemon yellow golf sweater and earnestly saying ‘Yes’ to a host of dull car related queries? Who said there was no justice in this world?. Ohhh YES, there is…

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I'm a Barbie girl...

There’s nothing quite like the first BBQ of the season… Lifting the lid and discovering a near fossilized burger still sitting on the grill from last year, having to spend hours scraping out the old soggy charcoal (and then realising that the soot you’ve cleaned off was all that was actually holding the barbeque together) Racing down to B&Q to buy a brand new version and having to wrestle for the last remaining model that doesn’t run on gas… As always, forgetting to oil up the wire tray so that all the food gets gummed to it and has to be served up in small bitesized indistinguishable chunks. Ahhh, the essential ‘burnt to a crisp’ inner items and virtually raw bits lurking on the sidelines. The incredible plummet in temperature around 7pm that has everyone running for cover and best of all the vast quantities of left over food which you gather up carefully, convinced you can transform into delicious flavour combos throughout the week... In reality, left over Barbie grub always stays in its Tupperware box quietly growing fur for at least a fortnight, unless of course It’s lucky enough to get snaffled mid week as a post pub snackette…mmmmm burger and potato salad toastie anyone?

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