Thursday, June 28, 2007

Warning! Gynaecology!

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.

I’ve never been one of those naked ladies in the swimming-pool changing rooms, enthusiastically towelling my crotch while discussing how best to grow organic runner beans with that nice lady from the wholefoods shop. The thought of being undressed in front of people fills me with horror. I’m just not that sort of girl.

Which would go some way towards explaining why my visit to the Family Planning* clinic today is something I have been putting off for over a year. I have an IUD, you see, and since the Other Half had his balls cut off** last year, we decided I might as well go wireless. But, you see, I hate all that fiddling around stuff. I hate standing around uncomfortably, naked from the waist down, waiting for the doctor to finish putting their gloves on/dipping the speculum in freezing water/switching on the secret webcam hidden in that box of tongue depressors***. I hate when someone shines an anglepoise lamp up my hoo-ha. I hate making polite conversation with someone who is locating my cervix. Urk.

But I went. And, predictably, it was embarrassing and uncomfortable and cold and a little bit painful. On the plus side, the doctor did say she liked my shoes (pink slingbacks which match my hair – I rule!), which is probably one of the nicer things a person can hear while someone is fiddling with their insides****. So it wasn’t all bad. But I did wonder to myself, even as I was thanking the doctor (for what?? Not punching me in the face to compound my misery? Not legging it through the waiting room shouting about my downstairs? Not pulling the bed-curtain-thing back with a triumphant “TA DA!!!” to reveal all my ex-boyfriends?), what sort of person chooses a career based in, well, fannying around with fannies. Rather her than me, that’s all I can say. I can barely communicate with people face-to-face, let alone strike up a casual conversation over a nice warm foo-foo.

There. Aren’t you glad I shared? I know I am.

* I know, I know – it makes me sound like I read Woman’s Realm and bake my own tea cosies. But the only alternative is “Sexual Health Clinic” and just being in the place makes me want to wear a badge saying “I Don’t Have An STI” so I’m really not that comfortable with it. Shut up.

** Well, not really. But he was a brave boy and he had to shave his minge off and poke his balls through a hole in a green sheet so we like to make it sound more, you know, extreme than it actually was by way of compensation.

*** Randomly, when I used to type up medical reports for the kids at my last job, I could always vaguely taste tongue depressors. Does that count as synaesthesia*****? Or am I just a bit odd?

**** I have just realised that this sentence makes me sound a) retarded and b) like the sort of person who clambers onto examining tables naked but for their shoes. I am neither. Honest.

***** As another random aside, some noises have shapes. Honest. Like the noise off of Family Fortunes – not the uh-uh noise (that noise is orange) – the noise they make in the last round with the quick-fire questions – if you give the same answer as the person who went before you they play a sort of “poomph” noise. Which is oval. Well, more elliptical. And the colour of purple grape juice. I’ll stop now.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In which I miss an opportunity to stand up and be counted.

Picture the scene.
We're at my Dad's place for the weekend. Australian Sis (plus Kosovan Husband plus Bitey Devil Child*) are in the country for a week or so as part of their six-week European trip. Other family members drop in and out over the weekend and we're all enjoying catching up. Although I grew up with AS, we've nver really got on. There was a huge much-ado-about-nothing kerfuffle when she emigrated and left the majority of her belongings at my old house expecting me to arrange shipping. Which I didn't, plus I left them all outside so they got rained on as I was pissed off with her dumping her stuff on me, so she was pissed off with me and we've really only just got over it, between us. But, you know, it was a family weekend and we were sort of rubbing along through gritted teeth. As you do.
We're sitting in the living room, the Other Half and me. Australian Sis wanders in with a copy of yesterday's Sun. They're doing some wildlife DVD giveaway or other, and there's an ad on the front page. Plus, there's a little teaser feature about a paternity suit involving a has-been pop star and a third-rate Hollywood actor. All cutting-edge journalism, as per usual.
I thought it was quite appropriate, opines AS, that there's a picture of Mel B next to that picture of a gorilla.
The Other Half and I glance bemusedly at each other. What on earth is she getting at?
You know what I mean, don't you? presses AS. Um, no. Actually we don't. Or at least we hope we don't. Only, she seems pretty good proof that evolution doesn't always get that far, to me.
Christ. Now we're paralysed with horror. I know we should have said something, but I was still half-hoping that we had the wrong end of the stick. Until about an hour later, when she sidled up to me again.
When we were in Kosovo, we had Sky TV, she began. There was a bit about Big Brother and someone getting kicked out for using a racially offensive word. I was just wondering what the word was. Now, to me, there was an unsettling air of eagerness in her question. It was the "N" word, I replied. I think I was expecting her to say how unacceptable she found it, or something. I certainly wasn't expecting what came next.
Oh, she said, slightly disappointed, is that all? Do you know, when I first moved to Australia I thought the word "wog" was totally unacceptable!
It is! I countered.
Oh, no, not really. You see, Kosovan Husband and all his friends call themselves wogs. So it isn' that bad, really. Is it?
Um, yes. I pressed on. I'm really not comfortable with that word at all.
But honestly, Ms E. Powell continued, all the minorities use it about themselves. So I really don't mind it. Not a bit.
I was stunned. My stepsister, somewhere in the intervening years since we knew each other at all, has apparently decided that racist epithets are acceptable for her to use, as long as the person she is directing them at is someone who uses the same words about themselves. Personally, I couldn't agree less. I don't like racism and I don't like racist terms, regardless of who they're coming from.
So I did what any decent person would have done, faced with the same circumstance. I told her again I really wasn't comfortable with the conversation and legged it to the kitchen to help with the drying up.
Oh yeah. I'm really quite the activist. Sweet.
* This is a whole other post. Really.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And, relax....

So anyway. My new job.

Obviously I can’t tell you anything about it. I’ll just say that it is utterly removed from my last job. In some ways this is a Good Thing. Other things I will miss.

My last job was doing admin (impossibly glamorous, I know) at a residential school for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. I want to start by underlining how fabulous the kids on site were. I mean, I know there’s this whole scepticism about things like ADHD*, but really, some of those kids had had horrendous experiences and in light of that it’s no wonder they could get a little, um, agitated at times.

By the time I left I couldn’t wait to get out of the place and it makes me really sad to remember how enthusiastic I was to get started a mere ten months ago. The trouble was, you see, that the “organisation” was run by a mad European despot (how I wish I could tell you his name – and how I wish I’d googled him myself before accepting the job in the first place) with more money than sense. There was no business plan to speak of – so far as I could tell, the marketing director was buying properties and leasing them back to the company to use as care premises**, the personnel director was only qualified to do her job by virtue of the large investment she made as a shareholder to get them out of a hole a couple of years ago, and the whole place operated at the level of a bunch of blind people wandering around in an enclosed space, occasionally tripping over something large.

By the time I’d decided to leave, the business was pretty much in tatters. The building I worked in when I started was closed down. We had been given a five percent pay cut. The kids had no idea what was going to happen to them next – they knew that their current homes would be gone by September but hadn’t been told where they would be living after that. The staff couldn’t tell them, as they didn’t know either. This, understandably, unsettled them. If you’ve been abandoned by your mother at eighteen months, been through a series of foster homes (some of which were less than welcoming, some downright abusive) and watched your friends gradually leave you as their local authorities wised up to the ramshackle nature of their placements with My Old Employers, you’re going to be pretty fucking scared if nobody can tell you what happens to you next. And if you can’t deal with your feelings of fear because you can’t trust anyone to still like you if you show any sign of weakness, you act out – smashing the place up, pulling knives on people, running away, getting drunk, getting high, sleeping with strangers for money to get a bus to your sister’s house. All that. And worse. To be honest, there were days when I felt like joining in. Not the bus fare thing (I could afford a taxi if push came to shove) but there were certainly a couple of managers I could cheerfully have battered with a box file full of housebricks. Rarr!

So, as of last week, it was all well on the way to going utterly tits up. The organisation had debts to the tune of £7 million. OFSTED had come in and wandered around with disbelieving looks on their faces for three days and finally ordered up a surprise fire inspection at four pm on my last day. The fire inspectors apparently wandered around with disbelieving looks on their faces for eight hours, before accepting the emergency maintenance work that had been done and leaving, darkly promising to return sometime in the next week. And at four thirty pm last Friday, I shut my computer down, gathered my things, hugged the kids and made my way up the drive for the last time.

I’m never going to forget those kids. I will always wonder what happened to them, whether they managed to find some peace and happiness. I miss them.

But, do you know what? I’m not sorry to be out of that place. Not one little bit.

* Not my favourite syndrome though. Oh no. My favourite is Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which I’m pretty sure means “not doing as you’re bloody well told”. Genius.

** Except for the one he bought that got as far as being fitted out before the inspectors deemed it unfit for use as a children’s home owing to it being about fifteen feet from The Busiest Dual Carriageway in Our County. You’d think someone would have thought about that before buying it and spending all that money on the interiors, really.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Short, and Dull. Sorry.

I haven't blogged for a week.

I have two excuses though. First up, I started my new job yesterday. And, do you know what? It's exhausting. All that thinking, and working, and nobody trashing my desk and threatening to kill me. It's freaking me out. I think I like it though.

Secondly, Mr Botogol over at Green Ideas recommended Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks and I love it so much I might just read it on a loop for the rest of my life. Yes, it's wordy, but it's just so beautifully written that it really isn't hard work, not at all. And anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong, so there.

There. Aren't you glad I made the effort to write something this evening? Christ.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Same shit, different day

If I'd been a full-on Yummy Mummy - all teeth and Boden - I'm sure I would have got a different reaction.

As it was, because I have piercings and a couple of my tattoos were visible and I have some pink bits in my hair, when I spoke to the man holding the now-bloodstained white cloth, he recoiled as if I had attempted to steal his wallet.

In fact, I was trying to genuinely thank him for compressing the head wound suffered by the boy who abruptly pitched off his bike on the way home from school this afternoon. I'd already dialled 999 and the ambulance was on it's way, but I didn't have anything to hand to try and stem the flow of blood. So, I thanked him when we left the scene - the same as I thanked the kind lady who'd looked after Small Person when I sprinted off up the road having seen the accident happen, and the nice plain-clothes policeman who stopped and chased up the ambulance over his nice radio.

Just courtesy. You know.

Ignorant fucker.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Another post entitled "Arse".

I am a twat.
We had a fabulous day yesterday. A little bit of shopping in town, then a stroll through the park with an ice cream before heading home and bimbling off to the pub. It was a hot, sunny day and the prospect of beer and the papers was an enticing one.
So enticing, in fact, that I completely failed to put any sunscreen on. I can't help it. I'm still not really up to speed with the concept that the British sun, redolent with years of damp and the echo of fish-paste sandwiches on windswept beaches, has anything like the bollocks to offer more than a faint sizzle. I mean, I grew up in the seventies - and nobody wore sun cream then, etc, etc. The "mole" I had removed from the sole of my foot a couple of years ago (which would have been promoted to the slightly more important-sounding "melanoma" if I hadn't spotted it and legged it off to the doctors) is an abberation - I just can't seem to assimilate applying cream before heading to a beer garden. It feels....poncy - like wearing a cocktail dress to the pub, or laughing at Ben Elton's jokes about politics.
Anyway. Three hours later and we decided to head home. It was a little bit warm, granted, but I thought we'd got away with it. You can guess where we were up to by about nine o'clock last night, can't you?
To sum up: I am redder than Mick Hucknall's ball bag. There is a bottle of aloe vera body lotion in the fridge and every hour or so I wincingly soothe my parched skin. I feel like a sausage on a barbecue, or Vanessa Feltz in a size sixteen dress - even my clothes hurt.
I am a twat.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Shit off, losers.

We are engaged in a Mexican standoff, my employers and I.

I resigned on Friday, in writing, explaining that I was giving them two weeks' notice. I received a shitty letter on Saturday, informing me that, although they were accepting my resignation*, they "couldn't commit" to my leaving in just a fortnight. At this point they felt moved to inform me of my leaving date. So I wrote back, ever-so-politely explaining that they seemed to have misunderstood - I wasn't asking if I could leave in two weeks, I was telling them when I was leaving.

It all got a bit weird after that. I had an email this morning from the Personnel department saying that the director understood my feelings, but would "like" me to work four weeks' notice. I wrote back, by now slightly thrown by resigning for the third time in as many days, reiterating my leaving date, giving them chapter and verse on exactly why I was leaving, and pointing out that I am in fact free to leave (on full pay) at any moment owing to them failing to provide a safe working environment for me, and that they should consider two weeks pretty reasonable given the circumstances.

They have yet to respond.

And so here we sit, in a weird limbo**. I am resolutely not going back after next Friday. They are going la-la-la and telling themselves that they are resolving the situation and that I will work a four week notice period. Which they have not, and I am not.

Now, having looked into the technicalities of not fulfilling my contracted notice period, I am almost looking forward to it getting into a real pissing contest. I mean, what's the worst they can do? I don't need a reference from them. They can't refuse to pay me for hours worked, or withhold my P45. They can threaten me with legal action, but they would have to pay to bring a civil suit and are extremely unlikely to win any compo. In any case, the minute they get legal on me I'll simply walk. If I'm getting sued for two weeks' notice we might as well round it up to three, after all. So yeah, bring it on. And all that.

That said, a small part of me is slightly worried that on the morning of Monday 18th June I will hear a sharp knock at the door at seven o'clock, following which I will be forcibly restrained, carted off to a small Nissen hut in the middle of the forest and compelled to catch up on my filing under pain of torture. Perhaps they will make me watch Ainsley Harriot on a loop until I agree to do another two weeks. Perhaps small bamboo slivers will be slid beneath my fingernails, even as Jodie Marsh explains in a grating voice that if I don't comply she will fill me in on every z-list nightclub conquest she's ever made, or maybe Alan Titchmarsh will read aloud every sex scene from every book he's ever written in a bad Fronch accent while I am waterboarded.

So. Um. Aren't I brave? Or stupid. Delete as applicable. You know the routine.

UPDATE: I rule! They finally capitulated saw sense yesterday. Strangely, this change of heart came about fifteen minutes after I sent an email to the senior management team detailing exactly what working conditions were like on site. It's amazing what can happen if you can manage to get "Health and Safety Executive" and "ACAS" into the same sentence. Goodbye, random employers! Best of luck with recruiting to fill the vacancy!

* Also, what happens if they don't accept a resignation? Has that ever really happened to anyone? Do you get locked in the stationery cupboard and have more and more work slid under the door until you are forced to either process it or die? Do tell.

** By that I am referring to that what-happens-now place, not that my employers and I are attempting to outdo each other by sliding under a series of ever-lowering poles, with the winner being the one who doesn't touch their shoulders on the floor. Oh lord. What if that is what they are planning? With my knees, I'll never win. I'll be there forever.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Actually? Fuck you.

For crying out loud.

I am annoyed. I realise that this is not rare for me, but really, I am Very Annoyed. Let me explain (as if you care, but I need to vent and that’s what you’re there for).

I ordered a CD, you see. I ordered it from Amazon. It’s a Buckcherry CD. Now, Buckcherry are not renowned for their, um, feminist principles. The song “Crazy Bitch” is proof enough of that. But I like a couple of their songs (god, how old do I sound?) so I thought I’d give the album a try. All good, so far.

Except, when it arrived, there was a little sticker on the case* saying “Clean”. How odd, I thought – I wonder what that means? When I played it for the first time it became all too apparent. Some earnest, cardigan-wearing, yoghurt-weaving, Guardian-reading Protector Of Purity at Amazon has apparently decided that they will, as a matter of course, send out copies of albums with all the nasty swearing edited out.


I was annoyed enough to email Amazon asking them what their policy was. It wasn’t even as if there was anything on the order page that might have given a clue as to it being an edited version. I am *coughs*thirty-four*coughs* years old. I love a bit of swearing, me. I fucking love it. I also enjoy the freedom of choosing, you know, for myself, what I read, watch or listen to. I am aware that writing to an online retailer complaining that the CD they sent me doesn’t have enough fucks on it may well cause them to file me under “Tinfoil Hatter” but I don’t care. They brought it on themselves, and when I am finally cornered by the Armed Response Unit and led from the Amazon warehouse and asked to put the flamethrower down now, they can look at the smoking remains of their stock and understand that they only have themselves to blame. It’s the principle, innit?


So anyway, now all I need is a list of wholly unsuitable CDs to order from Amazon. I wonder if they stock any Anal Beard?

* I absolutely can’t bring myself to say “jewel case”. It’s just wanky. And it doesn’t even make any sense. Trying to make a plastic box sound all sort of glittery and magical is weird. I mean, should I start referring to my phone as a Portal to the Universe? Maybe we should all just dress up as pointy wizards and gaze intently into misty pools hoping to divine the future and ride gryphons and just have done with it. Good lord.

Free Web Site Counter
Counters Who Links Here