take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, December 31, 2007

How a wardrobe made me cry 

It wasn't the wardrobe's fault, of course. It was just minding its own business, being wardrobey, having hanging space and sliding, mirrored doors.

It had previously belonged to our mutual friend, J. It had come as part of the fixtures and fittings of his flat when he'd bought it and had served him well over the years. Knowing that J was attempting to sell the flat, I wondered (out loud, over lunch with S and J) what would happen to the wardrobe, whilst mind-eyeing that empty space in our own enormous bedroom where my open hanging rail stood rather pathetically, straining under the weight of the too-many-clothes.

"Oh, I'll have to get rid of it," he sighed. Since he and S had got together, combining two households into one, they had struggled to accommodate the excess of possessions.

"Well, maybe we could take it off your hands!" I beamed.

"You're welcome to it! But it'll be up to you to dismantle it and get it out of the flat..."

It seemed like a fair deal, so last Friday, we rolled up in our hired van and loaded it with the bits of melamine-faced chipboard and the little bag of screws which had once been - and would hopefully be once more - a wardrobe.

It was, I realised once it had been put together (not without some chin-scratching, swearing and threats of violence), my first, proper wardrobe as an adult. Prior to that, in my singleton existence, I had made do with open hanging rails. Later, I had combined these with borrowed spaces in Big's childhood wardrobes which seemed to accompany him to every new home out of his innate sense of "if-it-ain't-broke"-ness, but regardless of their distinct lack of aesthetics and very much to my chagrin.

As I screwed the bulbs into place (the sort of bulbs that go in a fridge and light up when the wardrobe doors are opened), I felt all growed up, though only in the wardrobe sense, of course.

But, o mirrored doors, why must you taunt me with that reflection as I approach in my undressed state? The reflection with its short hair and excess kilos that remind me of what happened this year.

Why must your little bulbs light up my clothes? The clothes which no longer fit me properly as a result of what happened this year.

The body I'd respected, taken care of and even grown to like a little - after this year, I can no longer trust it to be well, I can no longer stand the sight of it.

So, wardrobe, if I approach you with my head bowed, if I seem to spend a long time contemplating, choosing, rejecting outfits, if a tear starts to roll down my cheek as I replace another ill-fitting garment inside you, you should now know why. It's not your fault, really.

But I don't think it's mine either.

Roll on 2008. Surely, you can only be better...

Friday, December 28, 2007

The brush-off 

A toilet brush is a toilet brush is a toilet brush, so you'd think. But you'd be wrong. I was wrong too.

Firstly, and I know that this issue has previously been covered in some depth chez la sorcière bleue, I do solemnly declare that the shape of a typical toilet brush de nos jours is not suited to its purpose. Namely, being able to scrub into the variously shaped nooks and crannies that our toilets provide.

Who decided that rigid bristles in a spherical formation was the ideal configuration for scrubbing into the sometimes square corners found in the interior of our porcelain pals? Who decreed that the older shape of brush - she of the angled head and more flexible bristles, she who can delve deep into the darkest recesses of the pride of Armitage Shanks - should be retired in favour of this younger pretender?

Whoever you may be, sir (or madam), you are a fool. And yet it is I who am left with a stained toilet bowl which no amount of scrubbing with your second-rate brush will correct.

To add insult to injury, my recently acquired toilet brush has one further useless features to add to its pitiful lack of ergonomics.

Ah yes, it may sit proudly and aesthetically within its chrome sheath, but when it is unleashed, one discovers an alarming fact. The brush head is detachable from its very shaft, via the medium of a screwing motion.

Why? Just why would you do that?

A useful feature, one may think at first, allowing the brush head to be replaced in future. But who, in their right mind, is going to want to fiddle around with the "business end" of a toilet brush? Can I just put my hand up at this point and declare: "Not me!"

The issue with this unscrewable head is that, inevitably, it begins to unscrew during normal usage. And there comes the dread. The dread that the thing will drop off mid scrub, and descend into the murky depths, where it must be fished out by hand or may risk blocking the system. If you manage to avoid this by noting that the thing is loosening, you must still work out how to screw it back on again without... ahem... soiling yourself.

No. I really must insist in future that the brush head is permanently attached to the shaft.

And talking of bog brushes - you should see my hair at the moment! When they told me during the chemotherapy that "your hair will grow back", what they actually meant was "someone else's hair will grow back where yours once was". I don't know whose coarse, bouffantish hair this is, but it bears no relation to my straight, sleek, shiny hair, which was last seen clogging up the Dyson over the summer...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Life at the orifice 

Some recent examples of why Lotus Notes is accused of being "unintuitive":

Example 1

I accidentally delete an email message
I go into the trash can and drag the message out again, into the inbox
Whilst Lotus Notes knows what I have done and acknowledges what I am trying to do, instead of restoring the message into the Inbox, it barks:

No, Lotus Notes, YOU should bloody well Restore it. If you know that's what I'm trying to do, why can't you just do it? Why must I click on OK to acknowledge your stupid error message, then click on Restore?


Example 2

I am going to be away from work for a few days, so I set up my Out of Office.
Some time after coming back, Lotus Notes sends me an email to remind me that my Out of Office is on, and advises me of the convoluted method of disabling it. By the time I've read this message, I might have been back at work for some considerable amount of time.

Why not pop up a message as soon as I sign in, reminding me that Out of Office is on and prompting me with a single click to turn it off? (Hint: this is what Outlook does).


Example 3

I am typing an email.
I decide that I want to move a paragraph of text to a different location within the message.
I select the piece of text and attempt to drag and drop it.
I cannot drag and drop text.
Instead, I must use Cut and Paste.

What kind of "Professional" Windows GUI application does not allow the user to drag and drop text in a text editing environment? (Yeah, okay, Notepad - but this has no pretensions of being a professional business tool).


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of my favourite things about offices is the Internal Mail envelope, as unlikely as this may seem. I love the fact that it can be used hundreds of times before either the user runs out of boxes, or the thing becomes so worn as to resemble an old, soft, thin yet trusty rag.

I particularly like the ones used by our US office, which are satisfyingly robust and have a string fastening - much more secure than the flap closure favoured on this side of the Atlantic, which is open to all sorts of abuse - notably, the use of sellotape and staples which decreases the life expectancy of the envelopes considerably.

I am quite a stickler for scrubbing out the previous recipient with a thick, black felt tip, and writing the new recipient's name in block capitals, to ensure that there can be no confusion.

Others, I notice, are not so diligent.

Such are the musings of an office dogsbody.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A letter I will never send 

Dear ex-potential future employer

Thank you for your feedback, which was received via the recruitment consultant only several weeks after the various interviews that I was most generously given the opportunity to attend.

I am sorry that you felt unable to take my application any further, due to your concerns over "team fit". As you said, your department is populated mostly by middle-aged men; heaven forbid that a thirty-something, "happy, outgoing" (your words) woman with a strong personality should be introduced into such a department. Who knows what might happen!

Next time, I shall arrange to have a sex-change and a personality transplant, so that I might better achieve "team fit".

I was interested to note that your HR representative mentioned that I was "difficult to engage" in conversation while walking from the lift to his office (though he also admitted that once in his office and being interviewed, I was fine). How preposterous that someone coming for an interview should be slightly nervous at first! I am thoroughly ashamed of myself for this behaviour. Allow me also to apologise that my knowledge of and interest in rush-hour traffic on the M27 is sadly lacking. I’m afraid I did not realise that such knowledge was a prerequisite for the position (and having gone through the job description, I am still unsure as to how it is relevant, but will bow to your no-doubt superior knowledge on this matter).

Next time, I will be sure to prepare a veritable raft of tedious, traffic-based small talk in preparation for such an eventuality.

I also apologise for achieving the highest score in 3 years in your technical test. Evidently, you are not seeking someone who is highly competent in their area of expertise.

Next time, I will be sure to achieve only an average score.

Finally, I’d like to apologise for causing such confusion among your managers, to the extent that one of them decided that I would be (and I quote) "a breath of fresh air" and informed me (via the recruitment consultant) that I would be offered the job, whilst another had decided that I was not suitable, for the reasons cited above.

I realise that I have wasted several weeks of your no-doubt valuable time in recruitment and wish you luck in finding someone who fits the profile of dull, average, middle-aged man lacking in personality who enjoys discussing motorway traffic.

Yours faithfully


Thursday, December 06, 2007

The comedown 

To earn a bit of money towards Christmas, I have taken a temporary office job.

I always forget how much I hate secretarial work, until I'm actually doing it again.

This week, among all the usual drudgery, I have been asked to:

As a result, self worth is currently lurking way down in the lower reaches of the graph.