The Daily Mumble July 2003 Archive
It was now two months since Joseph had first arrived in Bristol. Having recently secured a very well-paid job as a Data Scrutiny Analyst (oh, that's what I am!), Joseph was now working full time - something that he hadn't done since the previous August. But that wasn't enough, so he also decided to travel to Wales every weekend where another job kept him busy on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, leaving him with no days off at all!
However, it was for none of these reasons that the Mumble saw very few entries in July 2003. The biggest wrench in my emotional life since 2000 came about, ensuring that I went into shock and was unable to write anything but swear words.
There I was, just settling down in front of my laptop at a desk in a room in the house on the Welsh Garden Project site, when suddenly, from out of the corner of my eye I noticed a dog staring straight at me! I jumped up and ran out the room in terror.
A couple of minutes later I managed to pluck up the courage to poke my head around the door to see if the beast was still there. It was only when I saw him now sitting on my laptop that I realised that it wasn't actually real: no sensible dog would waste it's time reading The Daily Mumble!
(The daft thing is is that after taking these photos and beginning to write I got another big fright when casually gazing around the room and catching sight of the dog again!)
Life in The Office is no game, believe me.
It's been another very busy week in the life of a Tame-gone-Wild-gone-temporarily-mildly-Tame (that's me by the way). At the office many hours have been spent working hard on sorting out a mess of a database, in between watching Wimbledon, drinking hot chocolate, studying Japanese, popping down to the canteen to see if there's any food left over from the morning's managers' meetings, figuring out how to get around the firewall and other security measures on the company's computer network in order to have (prohibited) internet access, eating chocolates sent up by head office, celebrating the fact that we finally managed to find a way to get full internet access avoiding all company security stuff, emailing my friends, playing computer scrabble, looking at the manager's photo albums, following Wimbledon via the official Wimbledon website and playing around with my phone and its new funky deck chair (given to all personnel for some obscure reason).
Come to think of it, there wasn't much time for work in the end.
Thursday, being our Friday (we only "work" 4 days a week due to our 10-hour shifts), was especially stupid. The Office Monkey (that's me) was in full swing, oo ooing between the branches of three mad database programs and six Mr Kipling Cherry Bakewell Tarts brought in by the manager to celebrate the fact that, er, the fact that we were there and they had been on the shelf in the supermarket. When the pink deck chairs were handed out I set about trying to make my phone as comfortable as possible. Having punctured a hole through the canvas for the antenna, I realised that what it really needed was a face. Mark very kindly gave me his, with the result shown below.
Incidentally, I discovered that Mark's face makes for a rather striking desktop background image. Why don't you try it? (Click here for the pic, if using XP right-click on the image. Select "Set as Background" from the menu that appears)
[DISCLAIMER: in case my boss happens to come across this and gets the impression that I didn't do any work last week, I'd just like to point out that I spent 40 hours within the walls of our space-age block, most of which were actually spent being a Data Scrutiny Monkey (that's my official title you know), and only a few of which were spent swinging from the branches in order to relieve the madness that computer screens instill in many apes.]
[Last night whilst at the pub I found myself playing that old game of "fiddle with the coaster until it disintegrates in your hand". Before the soggy piece of cardboard had totally fallen apart I noticed some small print, below the bold statement that told me that that particular beer "Enriches lives by bringing about those situations where great friendships are forged*". The small print to which the asterisk* led read "not guaranteed". How daft is that?! I think it's completely mad that companies are now so scared of being sued that they feel it's necessary to have disclaimers such as that.]
"Yes, I'd like to launch a lawsuit against this brewery because after downing a pint I didn't find myself in a situation where great friendships are forged"
Mind you, if the disclaimer wasn't there, you'd probably have a good chance of winning, such is the way of (wo)men in the 21st century.
As I sit here typing, not two metres to my left, the other side of the french windows, a wild fox is eating his supper.
I'm glad he's here. Today I spent the best part of 9 hours armed with a heavy duty garden strimmer, reclaiming a large meadow from a huge population of thistles - it was clear from the tracks that I found that the foxes often hang out there, playing Monopoly or whatever foxes do in their spare time. I thought that all the noise and destruction might have made them decide to move house. Mind you, they have been getting bolder. Perhaps they've heard the fantastic news that from 2004 all fox-hunting with dogs will be banned in the UK.
Here's a photo I took yesterday evening when one of them wandered into the porch for a cup of tea.
There's something very satisfying about hacking away at thistles and brambles, especially when the result are so dramatic (click here for Before and After shots).
Despite all the tom-foolery at work, I've generally felt pretty depressed this week. It's hardly surprising really. I've been trying to keep myself busy, which works quite well - until after 10pm. My dreams are full of past realities mixed with current feelings. This morning I awoke with my head and heart in another world, the world of an extraordinary film that I had just watched in my sleep. The film was based on a true story, about a boy, and a girl. Watching that film I'd smiled until my tummy was full of butterflies - and I'd cried until the sorrow could go no deeper. I was woken before the final curtain, so I don't know how it ended. I remember that it was a bleak situation, but there was hope.
In that dream, in that film, I saw things of which I have virtually no conscious knowledge
- yet they were incredibly detailed and vivid. I find it staggering that our minds are capable of conjuring up such realities - but why only in our sleep, or is that just me? If, as I sit here, I try to picture an imaginary landscape in my mind, I can barely do it. It's there, but it's very blurry, only 2-dimensional and done in some ghastly oils on canvas. The details are only there if I concentrate hard. In my dream world, everything was there. There was no effort involved - the world and my awareness of it was complete.
However, what I remember the most about last night's dreamfilm is the extraordinary storyline. Yes, there were parts that followed past realities of my life, but there were also great surprises. Real surprises! How could the part of my brain that was writing and producing the film conceal from the part of my brain that was watching the film the fact that something totally unexpected was about to happen? I can still remember feeling consciously surprised when the main character (who incidentally was me) was suddenly and totally unexpectedly kidnapped by the enemy party. I can remember the feeling of surprise and shock as vividly as I can remember the feeling of surprise and shock that I felt when seeing that dog pictured at the top of the page, if not even more so!
I think I might start committing my dreams to tape (well, to hard-drive actually). When I'm in a position to be able to make a film, I won't have to look around for a story - I'll have hundreds to work from.
For some time now I have strongly believed that every cloud has a silver lining.
It's almost 11pm, and I'm on a train in Wales. Being a Sunday night I need to get back to Bristol in order to start work at eight tomorrow morning. Four hours ago, after a very pleasant afternoon spent mingling with old friends at the Hereford Waldorf School Summer Fair, I found myself sitting on a bench on a platform at Hereford Railway Station. My train was just pulling up when I suddenly thought, "did I remember to pack the mains lead for my computer?" A quick rumble around amongst the weekend's smelly socks and T-shirts confirmed my worst fears - I'd left it at The Welsh Garden Project site, some 24km south of Hereford railway station where I now sat.
After a few moments thought I rang mum and dad who live about 12km south of the city. If I managed to hitch-hike to their place, would they be so kind as to drive me back to my friend's house in Wales? The reply was generous; dad was going to pick me up from the station, take me to my friend's house in Wales to pick up my mains adapter and then drop me off at another railway station.
As we drove, I mentioned to dad that I was wondering what the reason was for my forgetting some stuff and missing not only the first train home but the second one too. I told him how when something unfortunate, inconvenient or generally bad happens, I believe that there is always a good reason for it. Admittedly, my forgetfulness had meant that dad and I could spend some time together - but I felt that there was something else in the wings.
My normal train takes me straight to Bristol with no changes. However, tonight as I was so late I had to get the last train, which involved a change and 40 minute wait at Newport, the most depressing city in Wales. I wasn't feeling too talkative as I sat down on my bench, but nevertheless humoured a young Greek-Egyptian man as he told me how this was the first time in his life that he'd taken a train (he usually traveled by jet or car).
Twenty minutes later, a pale, mousy haired teenage girl approached the woman sitting opposite me. I heard her mumble something, to which the woman responded by waving a dismissive hand without looking up.
The girl turned to face me. She was really stressed out, unable to keep her hands still in the manner of someone having some kind of localised seizure. She was also desperate to tell me her story. In Bristol I don't give money to beggars on the streets. I buy The Big Issue (a magazine that helps homeless people get back on their feet), and occasionally I give to homeless charities, but if someone asks if I can spare a little change please, I simply reply "no, sorry". However, there was something about this girl that persuaded me to hear her out before waving her off as the woman opposite had done.
She told me that she'd come on a trip to Wales and had her bag stolen from the luggage rack on the train. With no money, she'd gone to the police to see if they would help her with the train fare home. They'd told her that as she was over 18 they couldn't do that, but that the train company may agree to let her pay at a later date if she was to explain the situation to them. The train company said no, as did the bus company, due to people having taken advantage of the system in the past. So here she was, stuck in Newport at 10.30pm, needing to get back to Oxford. She told me how she would have called her mum and asked her to buy a ticket over the phone using a credit card, but her mum had gone on holiday to France for the weekend. She'd spent the previous night at the railway station, but hadn't got any closer to getting home.
I wanted to help her, but was a little concerned that perhaps her obvious angst wasn't caused by the stress of being stranded away from home, but by some kind of mental illness. Was her story true? I set about trying to put her at ease by showing that I was interested, whilst trying to suss out whether she was with it or not.
The lady opposite me was now hiding her face in a newspaper.
So you see, I think that the reason that I forgot my computer's adapter this afternoon was because I was supposed to be there on the platform at 10.30pm in order for that girl to be able to get home safely tonight. Who knows, if I hadn't forgotten it, that girl might have had to have spent a second night out in the cold of Newport, a grim city even in the lightest light of day.