Thursday, November 23, 2006

So, I have this crap job

We all know about it. We have all rolled our eyes as I ceaslessly whine about it. But my crap job is one thing. Finishing my crap job and then having to go on to explain to someone else how to do their crap job is more than I can be bothered with.
Enter the local post office.
I have a package, the slip of paper tells me. And because I'm irresponsable enough to have a crap job during the day and can't dally about waiting to receive packages at home, much as I'd like to, I have to move my butt down to the post office, wait in line with the creepy smelly muttering man and get it myself.
Enter the local post office clerk
'I can't find it today, you'll have to come back tomorrow'
'Well, what's the delay?' Impatient stare
'Delay?' Don't know my arse from my elbow expression
'The delay'. Jabs paper pointedly. 'This says I can pick it up today'
Looks at paper ineffectually 'Well, we don't know if it's over here or' waves absently 'over there'
'Over there' obviously being some vague cosmic dimension where parcels and socks sit about in transit.
Well, here's a clue, it's not over here is it...
'Besides, well, there's no follow on. And a 'postal parcel?', I'm not really sure what that might be...'
'At a guess I'd say it might be a PARCEL. That comes from OVERSEAS (he's actually listening with some interest at this point, almost as if he's learning something. Neurons making connections. Parcels come by the post. Genius.) 'Probably AUSTRALIA' (the mere fact that it could be from Australia and there is any possibility that it might be from my best friend and that some clueless moron is standing between me and a parcel from said best friend is making me ever so homocidal and twitchy)
Australia seems to be a clue of some sort, so I stand, drumming fingers, as waves of smelly muttering come festering through my senses, waiting for the arse and elbow man to figure it out.
But he doesn't.
I can say many positive and negative things about France. But their Post Offices suck, period.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

bookworm gossip

It was with girlish glee that I whipped the latest Susanna Clarke book off the english language section shelf at my local bookstore. And with adult cynicism that I balked at the price and put it right back. For those not in the know, she's the author responsable for the weighty tome Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell, which you've either read, think it might be a good read, heard about or are totally put out by the excessive weightiness and small printy-ness of the project (go on, read it you chicken). Anyway, it's a book I can recommend (this blogs just full of them lately) for anyone who can deal with excessive footnotes. They're good footnotes, though. There's practically another book hidden in them. It's amazing to believe it was her first work, and you get the impression of someone with a mind so ready to explode with ideas that if she doesn't get as many of them out as possible they'll be scraping her cerebellum off the paintwork.

Anyway, her latest work is 'The Ladies of Grace Adieu', and as soon as I get around to my next online shopping spree, I might be able to actually review the story, rather than its potential super-dooper qualities. 23€ for a medium sized paperback, however, is a whole other story.

The wonders of modern technology

So in todays wonderful world of advertising...a deodorant that lasts 48 hours. Either aimed at what my ex professor of botany called the 'unwashed masses' (ie anybody generally not studying science and particularly not studying botany, and more particularly arts students) or technology is getting in early for the day when the water shortage is acute enough to prevent our daily Western world ablutions. Alternate theories, anyone?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Feeling in need of a movie suggestion? Well you've come to the right place. The right place for someone who doesn't mind reading subtitles that is. And if you're one of my regulars (do I have regulars?), I know that you're that sort of person, you dear thing.
The Labyrinth of Pan is yet another amazing film to come out of the studios of Mexico (there must be something in the water over there) but the first I've seen in the fantasy genre. There are two stories happening in parallel, the gruesome reality of wartorn Spain during a civil conflict, and the (also somewhat gruesome) fantasy world of a young girl who must pass three tests to return her soul back to the fantasy world that she has been told she belongs.
The whole package is superb, and it would be a shame if it is just a small blip on the foreign film scene, competing against the schlock out of Hollywood. Check out for more info.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Beer and global warming

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 never know actually. Only to be told off. I flat out read a book in sheer desperation. Only to be told off. So I 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.
Anyway, beer.
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...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pumpkin head

My very first attempt at carving out a pumpkin head!