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...

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Wandering through town, trying to find something to wear for the wedding of the year. Something which doesn't make me want to cry should I happen to catch my reflection unawares.

Dresses are tricky on me. Waists are too high, skirts flare out just at the point where it's most unflattering, hems are too short. After many weekends of traipsing dejectedly in search of the non-existent "dress-that-looks-good-on-me", I have finally decreed that I shall wear trousers to this god-forsaken wedding. I very rarely wear anything untrouserlike, so why should I be different at a wedding? And let's face it, my legs are best just left lurking inside a trusty trouser leg rather than parading around on public display.

So, trousers it is, and of those I have many - but I'll need a nice top.

As I scour the same shops as before, this time looking for tops, not dresses, I decide to take a break for a browse around the bookshop. I very rarely buy new books, my brain quickly becoming bewildered by "l'embarras du choix" offered up by the high street bookstores. I prefer to get my books from charity shops, secure in the knowledge that I will have much less choice, a lower ticket price and the smugness of reuse. But on the odd occasion, I'll pop in to see what catches my eye.

And there, on the shelf, adjacent to the entrance, is something which immediately piques my interest.

I grasp it and read the blurb inside the cover:

... de Botton skillfully raises the big questions we all tend to ask of our work. What should I do with my life? How can I combine earning money with attaining fulfilment?...

I smirk. It is almost as if this book were written just for me. I make a mental note to buy it when it comes out in paperback.

In the meantime, I continue my quest for a wedding outfit, finally finding a blue silk tunic and miraculously matching blue shoes. I am interrupted by a text message from a friend:

Can I have your postal address? I have a present. W x

I duly provide the information, and continue on my way.

Three days later

I receive a jiffy bag.

I open the jiffy bag.

Inside the jiffy bag is this:

Inside the book is this:


I love my friends.

* inscription reads: "may the pleasures outweigh the sorrows"

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Context: I am talking to my colleague. He is 27 years old, born and bred in the Midlands and university educated

Him: "Where's Torquay?"
Me: "Devon"


"Where's Devon?"
Me: [silent incredulity]

Him:"I can't believe it, they didn't pay me when I had one day off sick last month!"

Me:"Yeah, I had that too. That's because you're still in your six month probation period. It's all in your contract - the company won't pay you sick pay in your first six months. They would have told you that on your first day too. Of course, after a certain number of days, you'd get statutory sick pay"

Him: "That's not fair, I can't help being ill!"

Me: "That's not the point - you're in your probationary period - it's like having a temporary contract. It's fairly standard practice in a company like this."

Him: "Well, I've never had that before. I lost a day's pay!"

Me: "Hmmm, one day out of a month's salary - it's not exactly going to leave you on the breadline. To put your experience in a bit of perspective, a couple of years ago I was seriously ill and had 10 weeks on statutory sick pay, because I was in my probationary period. That was pretty hard financially"


Him: "At least you got paid. I didn't get anything!"
Me: [silent incredulity]

Me: [noticing a packet of paracetamol on his desk] "Are you okay? You got a headache?"
Him: "Oh, I had flu earlier today. It's gone now..."
Me: [silent incredulity]

I've always been a pretty mild-mannered, laid-back person at work. I am lucky enough to work with bright, highly intelligent people, who mostly share my cynicism and frustration at the corporate world and the games we play within it, but who get on with it, because someone is paying them a decent salary to do so.

My newest colleague, however, is trying my patience to the extreme. Countless mind-numbingly stupid pronouncements like the ones cited above, married with fidgety behaviour, a naivety I have never experienced in someone of his age and background, mood swings hitherto unknown in the male of the species, erratic and melodramatic behaviour (he was once found sitting down in the lift), body language reminiscent of a sulky teenager, appalling standards of work (the fact that a program compiles does not mean that you have "finished" it!), an astonishing lack of numeracy (for a computer science graduate), and a constant need for reassurance (very hard to give, under the circumstances) makes him by far the most high-maintenance programmer I have ever had to work with.

And it's not just me who feels this way - most of our lunchtime conversations will involve an account of his latest demented outburst. At least he provides us with entertainment.

Whilst I usually settle for passive-aggression in the workplace, venting my frustrations once I'm away from those concerned, with this moronic excuse for a colleague, I have been driven to snap at him on a number of occasions. Big has now banned me from talking about him at home, because he is too angry on my behalf and powerless to take any action.

Perhaps the most irritating fact is that his probation period has now been and gone. An opportunity missed. And so, for the foreseeable, I must sit behind this idiot, clenching myself in silent incredulity and resisting the urge to grab him by the shoulders and shake him.

I hate how he makes me feel.