One Welcome Week Off, and I'm floating happily in my zen bubble, 10 minutes back, and it's 'hand me the spanner Pierre, so that I may beat them all to death'. Aka life in the public service. Except it isn't exactly the public service, it's something vague like 'affiliated public servants'. Only the French could sub categorise government administrative divisions. And be earnest about it.
Did I say I wouldn't rant about work? If so, I must have been on drugs. First day back and I have no desk. Again. I should explain that I have not had a personal desk space since, well, I arrived actually, and have been instead shunted from 'oh (s)he's absent today's ' spot with my sad little intray trailing along behind me every other day. A rubber stamp. A few pens. A stapler. Bear in mind I have a 6 month contract, it's not like they hadn't been warned. Anyway, I almost had a free desk for 6 whole weeks and refused to ever move again. So they waited til I left for a week. And someone nicked Stapley. The Bastards.
So, first day back and not only is my desk gone, but so's all my stuff. No one knows where it is. Typical. But I have a sort of second home, a pseudo work area. It's upstairs. In a draughty corridor. Next to a scan machine. Pressing the green button and scanning hundreds and hundreds of dusty documents. I don't kid myself - there's so many years worth here because I'm the only sucker that they've found to do the job in years. In keeping with job thats only fit for the work experience kid allowances, I've sat by doing the odd puzzle while I wait for the machine to go through periodically painfully long reboots, or sometimes mysteriously short ones...you never know actually. Only to be told off. I flat out read a book in sheer desperation. Only to be told off. So I figured...music. A discrete set of headphones, only my ears are being distracted, I don't have the aura of a person who is avoiding work. But, (and I inhale deep and calming breaths as I think to myself 'only 5 more weeks'), my ears must remain unplugged. I have been categorically informed. To listen to the glorious cacophony that is the workman on the other side of the wall with wailing buzz saws, jack hammers and an idiot who whistles while he work, but doesn't know any tunes.
In the usual time honoured tradion of not planning anything, the day trip to Brussels involved a late start and aimless wandering around some craptacular suburbs to find a particular restaurant listed in some 'a list of good restaurants in Brussels that none of our reviewers have ever actually been to but that look ok from the outside'(that may or may not be open, and may or may not be some covert mafia headquarters). Also went to a brewery - Cantillon, the last brewery in Brussels that still relies on spontaneous fermentation to brew their beer. This was once the standing method before beer production became highly industrialised. As a consequence their beers take years, rather than weeks, to produce. While brewing would normally be underway in late October, the unseasonally mild temperatures meant a delayed start - not only for this year, but many previous years as well. During a month where I've never seen global warming discussed so frequently as a fait accompli, we were witness to yet another small consequence.
Since that warm and balmy heyday of oh, a week ago, winter seems to have recalled who's the boss (and it's not Tony Danza) and temperatures have plummeted to such an extent that Western Europe, as in the entire Western part of Europe, as in - that's a hell of a lot of countries, almost succumbed to an entire power blackout on Saturday night. As in total. I'm having trouble getting my head around that one.
Still, at least you'd have been able to see the stars...