Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Footballmeat pieskangaroos&holdencars

Not exactly a chant you'll hear at an English football game but at least they have pies here!!

Cheese & onion pies (if you thing FournTwenty pies are stuffed with dubious meat type fillings, you've not seem meat pies at football games in England - apologies in advance to those who like them *shudder*) and Magpies! Alongside my beloved Collingwood I support Newcastle United. If only in a think-Alan-Shearer-is-a-honey kind of way until of course, my lovely mate in our Newcastle office sends me emails that say:

To: C
From: P
Date: 28 April, 2004
Time: 11.06 am
Subject: NUFC vs Man City


Apologies for not getting back to you sooner but I have 2 tickets for you for the game, can I put these in the post to you.


Ah, yes please!!

So, I'm off to see Newcastle United v Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium this Saturday!! I gather the tickets will be smack in the middle of all the NUFC fans which, if it is anything like the last game I went to against Manchester United at Old Trafford, will be brilliant. Sadly, I don't quite understand what the Newcastle fan's are actually chanting but the atmosphere and the sheer wall of noise they produce will be fabby!

Ian can't make it as he will be in London watching his beloved QPR fight to stay second in Division 2 and therefore avoid the end of season play off's. And let's face it - I don't think my heart can cope with another round of play off's. Please God let them make automatic promotion!

Listen to me ... I sound like Gary Lineker's wife!

So I have asked my Geordie mate Christine as she loves Newcastle to. That is if she is free. I hope she is free!

Note to self: Buy P lots of drinks.

Reading: Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
Listening to: The sound of pink blossom petals swirl around the streets of my town...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

My left wing

I sincerely hope Bob Hawke is believed when he says "My friends, if I may borrow a phrase, it's time - it's time that this myth of superior conservative competence on defence and national security be understood for the humbug that it is." And that those how have sat on the fence vote that blathering idiot of a PM out come the next elections in Australia.

Venus & Red Wine are alright tonight

It's now 10.44 and I've done NOTHING but stare at the screen doing that compulsory blog-jumping thing that is a major time sucker.

I'm finding the inspiration to write hard to capture right now. I'm convinced it is this bloody overcast drizzly day that I seem to have woken up to but nevertheless, I will try ...

Friday night Ian and I stayed in with 2 bottles of lovely white wine. Sav Blanc .... needless to say I don't remember exactly when and how I ended up in bed however I woke up on Saturday morning feeling fine. Just as well really as we spent the whole day spring cleaning the house. It was such a good feeling to go from room to room knowing that there were no longer any hidden piles of paper / clothes / cd's / more paper as we worked through each room and blitzed. I nearly passed out due to bleach inhalation as I scrubbed the bathroom but managed to stay conscious till I finished it.

Saturday night Chris came over as we were supposedly going to the movies but once again, after a glass of wine each he and Ian decided staying in was a better option. I made a great curry and a killer Mississippi Mud Cake which was to die for and later that evening Caz & David came to stay with us for the rest of the weekend. They are all the way from Melbourne and are on a whistle-stop tour of the UK. It was great to have people visit Manchester on such an amazing sunny, warm and dare I say it, summer-like weekend!

They arrived late on in the evening to find Ian, Chris, myself and 2 empty wine bottles in various stages of disarray in the front room. It was already 11pm by the time we all settled back into the sofas and a couple of wine bottles later I was amazed to find that it was after 2am and I was still wide awake and not in the least bit ready for bed. Bearing in mind I'm ready for bed by half 9 most nights I was pretty pleased with my performance under the influence of a lot of red wine.

Sunday morning we dragged ourselves out of bed, had a hearty breakfast of toast, demolished eggs (David's answer to 'How do you like your eggs?') and scrummy bacon. We headed out into the sunshine to fulfill our guest's request that we show them Manchester. What can I say? It was such a great day. We wandered around the city centre where David decided that Market Street looked like any high street anywhere in the world (with the exception of maybe Ulaanbaatar I silently mused), wandered around Urbis, scoured the shelves for shoes in TKMaxx and took in the bizarre delights that is people watching at Dukes92 in Castlefield.

We sat inside even though it was quite gorgeous out as it afforded us a big plate glass window between us and the freaks drinking outside. This meant we could look out the window at the assorted specimens and pretty much discuss anything from their Roman centurion hairstyle (he was a scary looking bloke) to their mullets (you would think this guy's mates would have the heart to say 'Mate, a ginger mullet is just not gonna get you the chicks') to their outfits - to the woman wearing the glittery bikini-top (David's description not mine) we collectively say 'Run Away, Run Away from the scary bloke with the helmut head!!'

So rather than hang around and watch helmut head and glittery bikini girl get in on we headed home. We set up the dining room table in the garden for our first al fresco meal of the year. We discussed astronomy, caught up on where people were up to back in Melbourne that I'd known years ago and drank a lovely bottle of French wine that David so carefully chose that afternoon. I honestly thought he'd take it back to Australia with him considering what he paid for it but no, he kindly opened it, decanted it and encouraged us to quaff it. So we did.

It was a gorgeous end to a lovely weekend and as we watched Venus rise in the west I decided I'd best take myself off to bed as it was, after all, a school night.

Reading: Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
Listening to: My Kitchen Music compilation...

Daylight savings

This thing is showing up the time as GMT but not taking into account that it is now daylight savings time.

So if you are reading this the time I posted this is actually 9.26am not 8.26am.

Don't know how to fix it.


Mum's on line!

The other event of note is my mother has email.

If any of you know my mother you will know how remarkable that is.

I think that this is going to do wonders for our relationship.


So, the meeting with the head of IT went well.

At least after I calmed down.

I managed to pull back from the brink (I caught a glimpse of the red veil's hem as it ascended) and we agreed that we needed slightly more printers that our initial allocation stated.


Note to self: Don't lose temper in the face of idiocy, remain and calm and speak clearly. They will eventually understand.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I'm not trying to change the world...

Or am I?

Today I'm taking inspiration from a fellow blogger whose website takes its title from one of my favorite Billy Bragg songs, A New England.

Billy sings:

I'm not trying to change the world,
I'm not looking for a new England,
I'm looking for another girl...

Honestly, Billy should sainted.

Anyway, the question I ask myself today is: Am I trying to change the world?

Let me elucidate. Work at the moment is doing my head in. Working for a very large firm means decisions that affect my every day working life are made by monkeys in London who I'm sure sign plans and proposals off because the bottom line looks good.

For example; our laserjet printers are being replaced by wizz bang all singing all break dancing multi function devices [MFD's]. On a floor of 186 people we are going from 15 laserjet printers to 2 MFD's and 3 laserjets. In my section alone of 13 people we have 5 printers. We will be left with 1, if we are lucky and be hooked up to one of the 2 MFD's on the OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOR.

So, being the even tempered, well balanced girl that I am I thought I'd write an email to the MFD Project Team which I was convinced would simply disappear into the ether. However, much to my surprise it did not and tomorrow I have a meeting with the head of IT in the north and the project manager managing our office refurb tomorrow morning at 9.30 am. Surprised? I was.

I often seem to find myself in the midst of issues like this here and find people often come to me to see if I can do anything. I'm not English which means I am not prepossed to just let things slide as some of my colleagues and friends are. If something is blatently wrong and there is an obvious way of making it right, I'll say something if I can. That's not to say everything is as simple or as black and white. I have no idea what will happen in this meeting tomorrow. This MFD deployment is a national initiative so we may just get told tomorrow that we will have to suck it and see. I do however see problems as challenges and looking for solutions is something I really enjoy.

Which is why I am seriously considered a new job here at work which will put me in a position where it will not only be my job to troubleshoot and bring about change, but I will have the clout and support in doing so. I've been here for nearly 3 and a half years now and I am increasingly being asked to get involved in the day to day administrative issues on an office wide scale. I like seeing things happen. So I will wait and see what comes of my registered interest in the job and make sure the right people are aware I am interested.

Reading: Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
Listening to: My Kitchen Music compilation...

There I made you smile...

Ian and I saw The Willard Grant Conspiracy last night.

For those of you who don't know who the heck I'm talking about this bio gives a bit of background.

What a fabby night.

What a great atmosphere!

A violin. A double bass. A slide, steel string guitar.

A big man with an even bigger voice.

We were mesmerised...

Listening to: Regard the End, Willard Grant Conspiracy
Reading: Moll Flanders*, Daniel Defoe

* Had to put down Last of the Mohicans for now as the language is a little too thick. Thought I'd ease myself into the Penguin Classic series slowly. Next stop, Anna Karinya.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

What Peter Gabriel song are you?


There is some great junk out there!

you were a Peter Gabriel song you would be :

Mercy Street
Compassionate. Your great with subtle feelings and communicating

story's that no-one will ever understand. But people love that about your

You take time to do the lighter things. Smelling the flowers, picking
the roses.

You have a strong emotional nature, which wells up in overflowing tears.

You might also love the beach and sailing!

Monday, April 19, 2004

A quick weekend round-up.

On Friday night I dropped Ian off in town at 8.00 to meet the boys for a drink and a gig and inevitably, a curry. After leaving him I swung around to Blockbuster to pick up a movie or two. Now when I first visited my local Blockbuster about two and a half years ago I went up to the counter, arms laden with an assortment of vids only to find that as a first time renter, I was only allowed to take one movie until the next time when I could rent two. Gee, thanks.

It would take me five visits before I could take out 4 movies at the same time and even then it would only be for 2 nights. At that stage they did not even have weekly movies for rent! So imagine my delight when I discovered that you can now rent 3 movies for £5 for a week regardless as to whether it be a DVD or video. I was in movie heaven.

Now, being married to Ian means we don't see many films. Ian, if you don't already know, is not a for-the-sake-of-it movie goer. If we see a film in a cinema the film must be, as Ian's mates say '... in black and white, subtitled, involve 2 people sitting at a table talking in great and poncy detail about the label on the bottle of wine in front of them.' As far fetched as this sounds it is not far from the truth. He is in essence, a film snob. He will debate this bitterly but not too hard. He knows it is the truth. Although I have to say in his defence that he did actually like Love, Actually, actually.

So my evenings alone, when I have the car are blissful. I hire the types of movies Ian wouldn't watch drunk. On Friday night therefore I picked up Dr Zhivago, Roseanna's Grave & Enigma. All good films in their own right but on Saturday morning when Ian asked what I'd rented he muttered something unintelligible not bothering to even feign interest. I, on the other hand, had a movie fest of a weekend! On Friday night I watched Enigma accompanied by a bucket of popcorn that you get at Blockbuster and pop in the microwave at home. I had inhaled the entire contents of said bucket before Kate Winslet appeared on the screen...

On Saturday night I watched two episodes of Kath & Kim, Someone Like You (Hugh Jackman is seriously gorgeous in this!) the last three quarters of Clueless and some very sad wee-hours-of-the-morning cable. Some scary things happen in tellyland after 1.00 am and I hereforthwith renounce my channel hopping ways. I have images burned onto my retinas of lycra clad, abdominally perfect, tanned Americans swiveling around on a contraption called something like The Abductor spouting such inanities as 'Like, I felt it work like after like ten minutes like of using it like.' I knew then it was time for all good children to go to sleep.

Sunday saw me fall in love with Omar Sharif / Uri and vowing to read up about the Russian Revolution. After that epic I baked a cake for a colleague who turned 40 today. It was a flop as I not-so-cleverly spread the batter over the wrong sized tray which made the chocolate layer too thin and chewy and the meringue slimy. I came very close to throwing it all in the bin but decided that the £10 worth of ingredients in it would still tasted OK if I slathered it all in cream and strawberries. It looked a little better. A little.

Enough blathering.

I have just been informed that it is warm outside.


C x

The need to speak...

I've cleverly worked out, all by myself, how to add a pop-up 'Comments' box the link to which you can see beneath each post.

Soooo, if there is anybody out there who does actually read this blog, let me know and test the system out at the same time!

Happy reading.

C x
I just had lunch in our canteen downstairs.

Now there's a sentence you won't read here very often.

James emailed to ask if I wanted to wander down for a sandwich. I'd already eaten my salad so I grabbed my soup in its disgustingly unenvironmentally friendly polystyrene cup (God, I can't believe they still serve food in these CFC loaded things in the 21st century!!) and headed downstairs. Before long Rich and Graham had sat down with their lunch and the conversation quickly went from 'how was your weekend?' to a discussion in a language I did not comprehend about a topic I cared nothing for. Golf.

Just as well.

So I came back upstairs to check out the news on the BBC website as the huge plasma screen in the canteen was flashing pictures of Maradona, but it was this one that that caused my lunchmates to all spew forth invectives in his general direction.

Graham: "I predict significant weight loss for him in the near future."
Me: "Why?"
Graham: "He'll be decomposing soon."
Me: "Gosh, and I thought it was, um, which nation are supposed to hold a grudge?"
James: [spat] "The French!"
Me: "Surely he didn't mean to use his hands."
All: "Invective, invective, death wish etc."

I don't know where the English reputation for mild-manneredness and restraint comes from but it must have been well before they started playing other nations in football.

Listening to: The tinkling, tinny hold music presently butchering Mozart in my right ear and Music from the Lonely Planet, Volume 2
Reading: The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper

Friday, April 16, 2004


It's Friday!


It's raining...


Went on a date with my husband last night! Yes, we went out! Excuse my enthusiasm but you see, given our always holidaying somewhere abroad we don't tend to splash out much on eating out. Much. So Ian met me after work, something I love, and we went to Wagamama. For those outside the UK Waga is a kind of communal style eatery that specialises in SE Asian cuisine very much reminiscent of say, China Bar in Melbourne. Lovely food and seamless service. And I love the little fragrant moist towels you get in a foil package with your chopsticks and wooden ladle type utensil to slurp your soup up with.

After dinner we saw a movie called Wondrous Oblivion which was great. As the synopsis says it was about a young, cricket mad Jewish boy living in London with his Polish parents in the 1960's. Although it touched on the issue of racism towards immigrants it was not too brutal - thankfully. I wasn't really in the mood for a grim, gritty Ken Loachesque type film and even though it wasn't, as my friend Sarah describes as a we're poor but happy film it touched the spot. Warm, funny in places and tense where tension was needed.

We got home in time for ER which is still, sadly, compulsory viewing in the Berri household and I managed to remember to tape Kath & Kim cause I've still not seen the first season!

Ian is off seeing a band for his bi-monthly boys night out so I have a home alone night tonight and I'm looking forward to watching something sufficiently mind numbing for no reason other than it is Friday night. It should be interesting to see him tomorrow in a hangover fug as we are babysitting the lovely Trinity for a whole 3 hours. I'm not sure what we've got ourselves in for as her parents are actually dropping her off at our house and driving away!! Let's hope we manage to keep her sufficiently entertained to stop her from screaming the house down with us in it. She is a terribly well behaved baby so I don't know why I'm fretting ... probably because her parents are trusting us with their precious cargo and I fear we won't live up to their level of competency!

Nothing else planned for the weekend other than housework (blah) and a movie on Saturday night. Here's hoping Shaun of the Dead lives up to its reputation of the funniest British film, ever... I'll let you know.

Listening to: the rain against the assorted windows in my life
Reading: Claudine in Paris, Colette

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Pretty shiny things

I've been playing around with the colour, font and, if I had my way, texture and smell of my blog.

I love apple green and chocolate brown but the danger is it starts to look like a 1970's kitchen designed for Andy Warhol's mother.

Let me know what you think?

To care or not to care...

I'm sorry folks but this one is going to be another spleen venting session so if you are not in the mood, click here now for some light relief.

We had a night in front of the telly last night and first in line was another Firefly episode on DVD which is my all time favorite telly program. Dare I say it is a sci-fi? I only hesitate because Ian loves it as much as I do and he is the President of the I-hate-sci-fi Element of the population and is sceptical of any program that so much as hints at warp speed or has the word 'Trek' in the title. So after enjoying that wonderful moment of escapism we should have switched off the telly and gone to bed. Not being inclined to go to bed so early anyway, especially with Newcastle United being in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup we flipped the telly over to the game. As we tuned in halfway through the first half we switched to BBC1 to check teletext to find out who scored for Newcastle. (Alan Shearer did of course.)

However over on BBC1 they were airing the a program about a guy in Hull in NE England who died while in police custody nearly 6 years ago. His sister had been campaigning all that time to have the CCTV footage of him dying made public and on telly last night, they did. It was terrifying to think that in this, a supposedly civilised country, 5 policemen and a warden could stand by and do nothing while a man lay not 2 metres from them and let him slowly die. Apparently they thought he was 'play-acting'. You would think this distressing enough would you not? No. The 5 police who were in the room with the man have never, ever been interrogated or formally charged.

We then sat to watch the news which was an incredibly stupid thing to do. For there was George W. Bush telling the world he has all but given that blood thirsty son-of-a-bitch, Sharon his backing in the most ignorant act of his political career to date. In one breath he has backed Sharon in his plans to give with one hand and take with the other. Israel has kindly agreed to hand back the Gaza Strip BUT will retain hundreds of settlements in the far more lush West Bank AND refuse those Palestinian refugees spread around Jordan, Syria and Lebanon the right to return to the land they once lived on.

While I brushed my teeth after stomping upstairs in a state if disbelief I wondered if all the passion I feel for the injustice that goes on in the world is worth it. What does my being angry about greed and cruelty and injustice matter? I don't honestly know. But I feel that if I do stop caring I'll be just another person in the world who does not give a shit.

Listening to: Regard the End, Willard Grant Conspiracy
Reading: Claudine in Paris, Colette

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

For a laugh...

I really love this blog.

Its a bit rude in places but I reckon its snortingly funny...

Monday, April 12, 2004

Coloured chicks...

Honestly, is it not enough that these poor creatures are pumped full of growth steroids without making them look embarrassingly stupid?

What is the world coming to?

And this one's for Jane...

A little sunshine came my way today... In a number of forms.

Firstly, I spoke to 3 beautiful and dear friends over the seas. I love them all. I miss them terribly and I can not wait to see them again.

I am not a great fan of the overseas phone call to be honest but I suspect that this has something to do with feeling that a phone call across the miles is not very satisfying as I'd much rather see my friends face to face - preferably over a good coffee somewhere groovy. However, the feeling quickly leaves when the phone is finally answered, after punching in far too many numbers, and I finally hear Helen or Jane or Jeff or Shauna or Jackie or Val or Sharia's voice down the line.

I realise then that I am blessed beyond belief to discover again that even though I am so far away, I am still muchly loved and muchly missed.

Secondly, I saw my beautiful mate PJ and her gorgeous baby Trinity for lunch today. They have been away in Ireland for 10 days and I've missed them terribly!

Given I am going to Australia for 2 weeks in June I had to decline her invitation to holiday with them in France this summer but we have put plans into motion* to 'summer' in Tuscany next summer. There are days where I absolutely LOVE living this close to Europe!

We had a great chat, a cup of earl gray tea and tried on clothes. Something we regretted doing upon exiting the dressing rooms but we still we managed to laugh about the size of our respective arses and vowed to start that diet tomorrow.

Thirdly, while we were indoors the sun came out of hiding and I feel better for her tonic already.

And finally... I'm going to change the bed linen and put on my favorite doona (duvet) cover. I do so love clean bed linen on a Monday night.

* when I say plans I mean we have conceived the idea, we know what we want and where we want to stay and we will get as much of it as we can organised before we mention it to our husbands. Rather fluid but very effective.

Listening to: Various songs by Paul Weller
Reading: Claudine in Paris, Colette

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Happy Easter!

Its been a rather nondescript week really. The sky has been grey for much of the time, apart from Tuesday afternoon where it actually went black and spat out hailstones. Work has been rather mundane and nothing much has happened. Or has it?

Well, there is the small matter of my impending TRIP TO AUSTRALIA IN JUNE!!!

I'm still rather shellshocked but there you have it - my sister called on Saturday to moot the idea of me going to Melbourne for my Mum's 60th birthday. The nicest part of that little idea was that between my brother, sister and Dad they would cover my airfare. God bless them. This is wonderful for 2 reasons - I need to see my Mum and she needs to see me. That's aside from seeing the rest of my family again, a few of my gorgeous girlfriends and my beloved Melbournetown!

There is a downside to this really - I am going without Ian. I am both excited and dreading that. We've not been in different cities for any length of time since we did the whole 'London/Manchester we should have shares in Virgin Trains' lark in 2000. And that was tedious. I do want to do this as I think it will be good for me but I will miss my boy. And I know he'll miss me much.

16.24 - only 36 minutes till the bell goes for hometime!

Reading: The Tin Princess, Philip Pullman
Listening to: Songs for Jane, Maroon 5

Friday, April 02, 2004

London calling

I'm off to London tonight.

On the 17.27 from Manchester Piccadilly arriving London Euston at 20.15.

I then have a 45 tube / DLR trip to Lewisham Station where the lovely Rachel will collect me.

I'm very excited - I'm going solo! Ian is staying home. Feel a bit funny travelling without him to be honest as its been ages since we've been in different cities for any length of time.

Perhaps I should just get over it and enjoy the weekend!

I love seeing London. I love being in London. I don't love living and working in London so I guess I have the best of both worlds really.

We may go to the Tate Gallery or to Tate Britain. There is an Annie Lebowitz exibition in Covent Garden I'd like to see. There is a Cecil Beaton exibition at the National Gallery. Rach suggested a day trip to Brighton or the Rye on the South Coast. I'd like to wander up the Kings Road and check out my masseur's cousin's shop Roccoco so get ideas for a shop front that grew out of a home made product. I'd like to see St Paul's again and after all these years actually go inside. I did sit and stare at it from my office window in Blackfrairs for a year though. Does that count?

There is so much I want to do and see and only 2 days to do it in. I guess I'll just enjoy what comes and soak up the friendly vibe at Rach & Darryl's home and play with Talia cause it all comes down to who you are with really.

Listening to: The best of Crowded House, Crowded House
Reading: The Tin Princess, Philip Pullman & Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowlings