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The Daily Mumble October 2003 Archive

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October 2003 was a very long month. 31 days in fact. But you know time is at the mercy of experience; different experiences carry with them their own time. This month was actually very exciting for me. College was taking off, and with it a whole new way of life came about. Suddenly I was a student, with a student outlook on life, and it was exciting. I found that I loved being a student.

 
October 2003 Highlights: Blaine and gherkins in London , End the occupation of Iraq march in London, my lovely amazing new nephew Jamie , pink and blue fetishes, Lost at sea in my local park, a Google image search , the meaning of "Joseph", seducing my boss, I like living here, Life in a world where heat doesn't rise, Essay avoidance tecniques, and then there was one, relationship barometer...

Links: Map - where am I today? October Photos Guestbook
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Thursday 2nd October 2003 - 14:25(BST/GMT+1) At the Office, Bristol, England

Hello. It seems that the only chance I'm going to get to scribble down my mumbles is when I'm here, at work.

My second week at college has seen an explosion of homework. I'd heard that there would be a lot - but wasn't quite expecting this... I now have essays outstanding in four of my five subjects. I don't mind at all though because I'm absolutely loving it - I really love college. My only wish is that I was there for more than two days a week, that I could quit this meaningless monkey job and study every day. Roll On Monday, that's what I say!

Last Friday the Head Chimp asked me to swing on down to the London office to meet the other Dataheads. To my surprise, the expedition to the Big Smoke was actually quite fruitful; I learnt quite a bit about why I've been doing what I've been doing since June, and was finally able to put faces to the many voices I've had conversations with through the electronic pipe work. Following that one-day stand with management, I hopped onto the tube in search of wetter pastures, namely those along the south bank of the Thames. I'd arranged to meet an old friend later that evening, but until then I had a few hours to fill with life-enriching experiences and unforgettable frolics.

Having consulted my wrist-mounted Hair Folliculator with built-in multi-lingual DVD assisted London A-Z, my mind was set, there was only one place to go in this great capital city (which incidentally came in at No.17 on the recently published guide "Crap towns - The 50 worst places to live in the UK" - Hull came first, www.craptowns.com) - yes, David Blaine's Perspex box (Day 22 of 44). What's all that about? I'm not going to dwell on it, if you want to know more try Google, but lets just say it was very dull. Hairy man sitting in Perspex box. I think looking at this photo is about twice as exciting as being there in the flesh.

Still, I'm glad I went by that way as it gave me a chance to admire the latest addition to London's growing collection of large vegetables: Norman Foster's Gherkin. From afar it looks like, well, a large, perfectly symmetrical gherkin with aspirations of being a rocket and starring in a James Bond Film - bet you it does one day. Close up, it's looks identical to how it looks like from afar, except it's bigger. Do you ever get that sensation with buildings? Why is that? Come to think of it, most things in life seem bigger when closer... What impressed me the most though was the window cleaning team, absailing down from the aerodynamically shaped heat-proof glass bubble that forms the peak of the monster.

Back below ground level, I took the Piccadilly line to Leicester Square, where memories of previous encounters with those phone boxes, Cinema's and that Starbucks came flooding back. I'd left a part of myself there last September, although I wasn't aware of this until my return. I wonder where else I've left a part of myself? A few places spring to mind: Tokyo, Hereford, Niseko and Kleine Scheidegg. But what of places like the Field and Trek shop in Gloucester where I bought my first sleeping bag back in the mid-90s? Is a part of me still there? If so, the implications are grave (pun intended). But hang on, didn't I first find myself in the Swiss Alps in 1997, amongst a group of isolated huts that I'd never been to before?

In the winter of 2001/02 I worked for a small language school in the heart of Shinjuku, Tokyo. There, my colleagues included an Ozzie chick, whom I finally had the pleasure of meeting up with when waking from my Central London dream. What with me being the foreigner I just sat back and followed where I was lead - through a series of Soho night-clubs: a gothic dungeon; a classy Turkish basement where I had to pay a pound to a man who turned the tap on and pushed the soap-squirter button after I'd had a pee; a gay courtyard full of cute fellas and good vibes; a phonebox labeled in Japanese. The phonebox wasn't actually a club, but when you've had quite a bit to drink these mistakes are easily made. As was my next mistake - I ate a sausage roll, having become vegetarian about a month ago.

Becs and I

That night I stayed with one of the kindest people on earth, Alice, who was nothing but welcoming when I rang her doorbell at about 11.30pm. I'd initially said I'd be home by about 9pm... Very nice flat, nice slidey floor and some Shibuya Street Manga on the walls, complete with 200yen price tags. The following morning I headed for Hyde Park (via Paddington Station which, as the tube driver kindly informed us, is home to a rather well known bear, and also the location of London's most expensive, inefficient and expensive left luggage office. I know I said expensive twice, but it was so expensive that I thought it merited the mention of the word "expensive" twice, or five time as is now the case).

Hyde park was the starting point for this year's fifth large-scale demonstration against the US/UK's invasion and occupation of Iraq, and war in general. We also marched to demonstrate against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, although the overall message behind the event was clearly directed at Tony Blair: Prime Minister, we don't trust you. You took us to war to appease your bedroom buddy Bush, against our wishes, using the reasoning that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to us - "facts" that have now been disproved (although few of us believed you in the first place). Far more credible reasons behind your decision to invade Iraq are now emerging, all connected with oil, money, power and greed. This was the message behind my many footsteps.

This War on Terror is a phony war, replacing one "terror" with another. This White House-led imperialistic aggression conjures up in my mind images of the Nazi regime.. We never voted Bush into office, and come to think of it, neither did the American People!



 

Following the rally in Trafalgar Square, I headed to Oxford. There, I was met at the station by my brother-in-law Danny, who happily informed me that the car was a bit smelly and that my first job upon reaching home was to change Jamie's nappy. He wasn't joking either, and it was no ordinary dirty nappy - this was the lucky one that happened to be on Jamie when his first proper poo came through.

It was kind of strange but also very natural to see Jessie, my younger sister, being a mother. Sort of unreal - I mean, this is Jessie, my little sister, and she's got a baby! But on the other hand, She and Danny seem like such natural parents with him. Thankfully the home birth went amazingly well with no complications (and no midwife!). He's now simply feeding, eating and sleeping all the time, and only cries when his nappy is changed; he doesn't like that. I'm thrilled to be an uncle and look forward to doing lots of uncle-ish things with him (ideas on a postcard).

mummy and jamie
daddy and jamie

 

he's so cute!

 

uncle joseph!

Saturday night then, following the changing of Jamie's nappy (I must admit, I wasn't much help with that in the end, it was a bit too scary) I headed back to Bristol on yet another delayed train. At around 11pm, whilst gazing out of the window at a stationary field, my phone rang. It was Noah, would I like to join him and a mate for a drink when I got back? Being one who doesn't like to disappoint, I said yes, joined them for a while amongst the throng of first year tarts down by the harbour, before finally peddling my way back to the comfort of my little pink room.

College was, once again, great. Not only do I finally understand what Cultural Studies is about, but also, friendships are beginning to be formed. I feel like I go to two different colleges actually. The first one is where I go between 9am and 4pm. There, there's hundreds of students, many of whom are under 18 and tend to hang out with their mopeds and smoke Marlboro (that's the boys) or hang out by the railings in front of the refectory and smoke Marlboro (that's the girls). There's also a lot of window lickers around. Tuesday afternoon I arrived at my maths class a little early. The room was empty, so I took a seat at the back and started to read through my English homework. Soon after that a boy walked in. He took a seat near me and pulled some kind of electronic device out of his bag - I guessed he was doing some kind of engineering course. A few seconds later he started to talk - not to me though, no, to the thing in his hands. Teasing the many coloured wires apart one by one, he told them how lovely they looked, and what important parts they played in making the device work. Well, that's one way of learning I guess: make friends with your subject.

The other college I go to only exists after 6pm. It's on the same campus, in the same buildings and indeed occupies the same rooms, but the atmosphere is entirely different. There you'll find no-one under the age of 21. The only window licker comes in the form of my Sociology lecturer, and the only smoke comes from smoldering Golden Virginia wrapped up in thin pieces of paper. There's far fewer students (the classes are on average under half the size of those held in the daytime sessions), and there's no queue for the drinks machine at break time.

Both colleges are pretty emotional places. In a room with 10 - 20 new faces 3 times a day. I've had high expectations with regard to friendships and so on. I'm emotionally volatile (and always have been), I have little control over my feelings, and so become easily caught up; easily disappointed. I just tell myself that my time will come (and then scream out the window "Well I wish it would bloody well hurry up!!!"). Yes, singletonhood is really pissing me off now...

Well, that was a constructive afternoon here at the office. I think it's time to go home now.

matane.

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Saturday 4th October 2003 - 20:50(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

I just mistook a sock for a bat. Funny how our brains do these things.

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Monday 6th October 2003 - 08:07(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

ahhh, mad dreams. I dreamt I returned to Tokyo, but just for the day. That's the second time this week. I was with someone, who was it? I was either in a boat or walking across the water by Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Bay. Lots of children playing. Tried to call Tom to arrange to meet, but called someone in Bristol who I don't know very well instead.

It's really cold now. I slept in my sleeping bag last night with a T-shirt and jumper on and didn't sweat at all; woke up with my jumper covered in down instead though.

Spent the whole weekend studying. Have discovered a whole different side to the internet. A side that is absolutely packed with information on virtually any subject I look up. My perception of the www has changed a lot over the past two days. I have learnt so much about the background to a political cartoon I'm using as the centrepiece for one of my assignments: the control of the media by invading / occupying troops in Iraq, or, more specifically the apparent deliberate targeting of the al-Jazeera TV network by Bush who didn't like their unbiased two-sided coverage of the war.

Back to college in an hour, looking forward to that. Cultural Studies and Psychology today. Best get up.

Joseph

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Monday 6th October 2003 - 21:06(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

Thoughts today:

pink is nice. Think it's a fixation, should pass soon. Maybe by tomorrow morning.

Having made the decision to cut down on my mobile phone usage last month I am pleased to announce that in September I used no additional minutes outside of my talk plan for the first time since I returned to the UK. I have also cut down on the number of SMS/texts that I send: 10 in the past 14 days. Of course this does mean that as well as an empty outbox I have an empty inbox. That's ok though, my head is so full of Behaviourism that all I'd be able to reply with is "How do i get the fish?"

Having said all that about cutting down on mobile calls, on Wednesday i'm getting a phone line connected to my room. My own private line, my own private number. It's an internet thing.

I did get 52 emails though. 50 of them were spam. The other two were from the same person, the second one being a p.s. to the first. Thankyou Selene.

After four weeks at college I am resigning myself to the fact that for the next year I am going to have to be a non-serial monogamist. Just teddy. I try to tell myself that this is a good thing: I have three assignments due in soon and barely enough time in which to complete them as it is.

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Monday 6th October 2003 - 21:23(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

Well, whatta you know, my pink fixation has evaporated, possibly due to the very hot mug of camomile tea I just spilt over the keyboard.

One of my classmates was sexually molested just down the road from where I live last Monday. 3pm. I knew something was going on when she didn't turn up for English. She was down at the police station. They think they've caught him. Line-up tomorrow. She's ok.

My initial reaction is "That's terrible isn't it", in a manner suggesting that the world really is becoming a dangerous place - but it isn't. Yes, of course it is terrible, it's terrible that she had to go through that ordeal (but as she proudly told us, "I gave him a right good kicking and he ran off!"), but these kinds of attacks have always taken place, only now we have computers that count how often they happen and then spit the resulting figures out in the form of ink on news paper.

I think that my hold on reality is a little loose at the moment. Must be all this studying.

I enjoy experimenting with my relationship with the outside world. For example, this last week I have made a deliberate choice to disassociate myself with people outside of my immediate environment. (That does not include people who contact me via email/phone etc, for when they do so they become a part of my immediate environment). I have enforced this upon myself along with another strict rule: do not live outside of the here and now. That is a principle that I do try to live by anyway, but rarely stick to to the degree that I'm now doing so by. (Huh? "to the degree that I'm now doing so by"? Is that English?). Another decision I made was to buy The Guardian several times a week. It seems it's necessary for me to at least skim the surface of the murky depths of British Popular Culture if I'm to get anywhere in Cultural Studies and Sociology.

So on the one hand I'm very much out of my normal "global" mindset, but on the other hand I'm a lot more in touch as my energies and thoughts are concentrated on the reality of the walk to college (left right maintain balance, lots of big leaves, man laying brick path), the purchasing of appropriate text books (bright shelves, that's a bit bloody expensive) and the finding of woodlice in my bed (how can I pick it up without touching it, what's it doing here and how did it die?).

It's astonishing how amusing I'm finding this experiment.

No doubt it's just a passing phase though.

It'll be gone soon, just like the pink.

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Thursday 9th October 2003 - 08:07(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

I have illness, stay-in-bed-for-two-days illness. It's at times like these that humour is especially important. Here's my favourite joke for today.

Once upon a time, there was an officer in the Royal Navy named Captain Bravado, who lived up to his name by showing no fear when facing his enemies. One day, while sailing the Seven Seas, his lookout spotted a pirate ship approaching, and the crew became frantic. Captain Bravado bellowed: "Bring me my red shirt!"

The first mate quickly retrieved the captain's red shirt, and while wearing the brightly coloured shirt, Captain Bravado led his crew into battle and after a ferocious fight, they defeated the mighty pirates. That evening, all the men sat around on deck recounting the triumph of earlier. One of them asked the Captain: "Sir, why did you call for your red shirt before battle?"

The Captain replied, "If I were to be wounded in the attack, the shirt would not show my blood. Thus, you men would continue to fight, unafraid."

All of the men sat and marveled at the courage of such a man. As dawn came the next morning, the lookout spotted not one, not two, but TEN pirate ships approaching. The crew stared in worshipful silence at the Captain and waited for his usual orders. Captain Bravado gazed with steely eyes upon the vast armada arrayed against his ship, and without fear, turned and calmly shouted: "Bring me my brown trousers."

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Friday 10th October 2003 - 23:43(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

My October album has been looking rather bare, so tonight I took these photos around the house.

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Sunday 12th October 2003 - 00:12(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

Gosh what a long day. oooohhh muther.

The good news is is that I think I have defeated the evilness within my system that was making my nose runny, my eyes hurty and my legs weaky. I'm still not 100%, but I am feeling much better physically. Shame the same can't be said for me emotionally!

I spent a couple of hours crying very hard this afternoon. Looking back on it now I realise that it was probably a combination of things that brought me to this cathartic state: the exhaustion and illness of the past week; some very sad news I heard this morning about an acquaintance; an emotional phonecall to a dear friend; wind in the autumn leaves. Teddy was here to comfort me. I think I might have cracked one of his ribs by hugging him so tight - extraordinary how comforting a piece of stuffed polyester can be.

Perhaps an underlying reason for today's outburst is the feeling I've become aware of over the past week or two of being lost at sea. It's a simple image: I'm alone on a small raft in the middle of the deep, dark, rough ocean, with no land in sight. The fear that that image conjures up in me if I consciously picture it is strongly reminiscent of the background murmur I feel in my heart.

I went to the park this afternoon to clear my head and enjoy the last of the Saturday sun. Despite the fact that the park has been just one minute's walk from my room for the past 5 months, I only discovered it last week. It's a fascinating place, especially for People-watchers like me. Today, aside from the dangerous frisbee throwers (please practice in your living room before using my head as an unintentional target) and gangs of little kids trying out their new swear words (it's not big and it's not clever), the greatest distraction was the fallen leaves. Toddlers, children, teenagers and adults, I watched them all play amongst the golden brown piles of light-handed nature. The noise they made when walked through was a joy to hear, although I can't tell you why, made all the more magical by the slight delay between the arrival of the light and that of the sound. A young lad who had spent 5 minutes shouting "BUM FLUFF!" across the park at the top of his lungs was soon silenced by the attraction of the crackling beech leaves - he asked his friend to bury him completely in order that he could jump out and scare a passer-by. Ten minutes later as I set off home he was still there, looking like a newly filled grave, waiting for an unsuspecting victim. Who knows, he might still be there, I can't hear any cries of "Bum Fluff" at any rate.

I watched Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine yesterday. And there was me thinking it was only the US Administration that liked to encourage the killing of other humans. Anyone who owns a gun - shame on you.

In what other "developed" nation would you find articles like this in your local newspaper, talking about what you get when you open a new bank account:

Open a bank account, get a gun.

North Country Financial Corp. is exchanging firearms for deposits, giving away rifles and shotguns in lieu of the interest that normally accompanies accounts.

Put as little as $ 869 in a 20-year certificate of deposit, and the Traverse City-based bank will hand over a Weatherby Inc. Mark V Synthetic rifle that lists for $ 779. Deposit more, and you have a choice of six Weatherby shotguns or a limited-edition rifle.

The bank has 28 branches, mostly in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the guns-for-CDs program is a potent weapon in the fight for Americans' savings at a time of shrinking bank deposits...

(Copyright 2001 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc).

No comment.

I don't really understand Google's Image Search page. I just typed in "joseph tame" as you do when very bored, and look what it came up with!

I don't look anything like that! ...do I? Where is the connection between me and that pelican?

Crikey look at that it's 1.30am. I'm dying for a hot chocolate, and a pre-sleep reflection session on all that has gone on today in the life of me.

night night

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Monday 13th October 2003 - 13:22(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

You did it! Well done Joseph, you're very clever.

After what seems like endless preparation (in practice about 30 hours) I have delivered my first ever presentation at college. It was only meant to be 10 minutes long, but ended up being about triple that. I didn't waffle, honest - I just had so much information to get across.

Unfortunately, one key element in the presentation was a PowerPoint slide show, which, when displayed via the television decided to be too big for the screen. hhm, nevermind.

The class was Cultural Studies, and the assignment title Understanding Visual Images. The image I chose was a recent political cartoon by Andrez Krause, which illustrated an article in the Guardian newspaper. It was written by the widow of a Journalist killed when The US Administration decided to bomb the offices of the independent TV network al-Jazeera, due to their policy of showing both sides of the story (Click here for more).

The analysis of a cultural text such as this does not just involve looking at the picture and learning about the story that it is attempting to sum up. Also to take into consideration is the context in which it was produced (the society in which the artist lived etc), the medium being used (research into the history of political cartoons necessary), and the context of consumption (who does this image think I am?). Then there's Semiology - "the science of signs", which I'd never heard of until two weeks ago. We unconsciously consider all of these things continuously throughout life whenever we see, hear, touch, taste or smell anything - you're doing it right now whilst reading these words.

I find it absolutely fascinating to discover yet another (until now undetected) layer to reality. Sadly, it doesn't change the fact that my printer's run out of colour ink, and that Epson cartridges are an absolute rip-off.

Anyhow, I received a very good review of my presentation from my classmates and tutor alike, paving the way for the transformation of all slides, transparencies and disjointed Word documents into one sexy succinct essay.

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Monday 13th October 2003 - 14:42(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

I've just been having a debate with with a visitor to the house, Nick, regarding the meaning of the word "decoction". He said it meant an extract of anything got by boiling, whereas I insisted it was the opposite of concoction. The house dictionary was called forth, and I was proved wrong.

Having been unaware of this huge dictionary until now, a childish urge seized me. No, I didn't look up all the rude words I could think of (I can still remember underlining the word "sex" in my first ever dictionary and then having to tear the page out completely to avoid the danger of future embarrassment); instead I looked up my own name, Joseph.

I've always been aware that Joseph means "sweetheart", and that if said with a very strong French accent, Joe Tame sounds like "I love you" (in French of course, I've written it in English as I don't know the correct spelling in French!).

Today though, the Chambers English Dictionary informs me of two more meanings given to "Joseph":

 

• a caped overcoat worn by women in the 18th century for riding

• someone whose chastity is above temptation

Well, absolutely, I think the latter definition could not be more accurate ;-)

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Tuesday 14th October 2003 - 22:49(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

Would you like a glimpse into my mind?

What do you mean "No?!!" Well, if that's your attitude, you can click here.

For the rest of you, here's a letter that I just sent to my senior manager in London. I haven't a clue why I'm posting it on The Daily Mumble. It contains not a morsel of interesting gossip, not an ounce of humour and is fundamentally dull. Still, I guess that's what you're used to here at The Daily Mumble, so you should feel quite at home.

Maybe I'm just trying to demonstrate what a kind, considerate guy I am.

If you get really bored you can always play "Spot the Lie" - there's one in here.

Hello Ann,

Joseph here at home, although by the time you read this I should be in the office at Aztec West.

As you know, in addition to working for EDF 3 days a week, I’m also a full-time student. In fact, not only am I enrolled upon a full time Access course (which is the equivalent of doing 3 “A” levels in one year rather than the usual two), but I am also attending another university for a part-time evening course in Japanese, in preparation for my degree course next autumn.

When I began these courses I knew that time would be precious. My tutors told me I was crazy to work 3 days a week, but I replied that I would manage it somehow.

I am now in my fifth week at college, and the pressure upon me to complete assignments in my 5 subjects is really starting to take its toll. I currently have to study for between 50 and 60 hours a week, in addition to working at EDF and occasionally eating; sleep is now a luxury that I can’t afford.

I realise that despite my determination to carry on in this manner, if I don’t start to listen to the advice of those witnessing my madness I shall soon burn out – something has to give. My studies are of the utmost importance to me, and so I am writing to ask you if I may cut back on my hours to two days a week, Thursday and Friday 8am – 6pm.

I appreciate that as an employee (and a temporary one at that!) I have absolutely no right to dictate what hours I work. I also appreciate that if you agree to my request it will cause considerable inconvenience, especially at this time when you are trying to help ease the workload that poor old Kevin has! It is for these reasons that I have been trying to cope with balancing a three-day work week with a full-time college course; I don’t like to leave people in the lurch.

I do enjoy my work at EDF and have found the last few weeks especially rewarding, but I simply can’t afford to let my college work suffer as it plays such an important role in my 5 year plan.

No doubt I’ll speak to you later in the day about this. I thought I’d put it down in writing first though as I wanted the reasons behind my request to be clear, I think it’s only fair.

Joseph.

So, the email is sent! She won't get it until 9am tomorrow. What's she going to say?

a) I don't know who the hell you think you are asking to cut down to only two days a week when your contract clearly states that you are a full time employee! Bloody temps! You're fired!

b) Well, Joseph, I was actually thinking of firing you this week in any case.

c) I'm afraid I really can't agree to that. I'm sorry, buy you'll just have to cut back on your studies.

d) Oh Joseph, my love, how can you do this to me?! I only get to talk to you three days a week as it is! How could I cope with a 33.3% reduction in contact with you?

e) Joseph, I can't hold back any more! I have to tell you, I'm passionately in love with you and your monkey ways! Come live with me in London, lets have babies, oh Joseph we'll be so happy together.

f) I saw what you wrote on your website last night. Clear your desk.

Oh, the lie - did you spot it? It was towards the end: "I do enjoy my work at EDF and have found the last few weeks especially rewarding". If it were true it would read: "I do enjoy sitting around at EDF reading the newspaper and found last week especially rewarding when I took two days off due to 'illness' ".

Joseph

p.s. Gosh, if I were being psychoanalysed now my therapist would say "Joseph! Your Superego is really very strong. The guilt you are feeling at having taken the piss out of your boss behind her back is clearly causing quite a struggle within you! Look, you're even having to add this little tag-line to make yourself feel better!"

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Wednesday 15th October 2003 - 21:49(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

Well, I didn't need the job anyway. Honestly, some people just can't see the funny side of things. I reckon she was just embarrassed because it was all true, especially ( f ).

OK, ok, so she said yes. From next week I'm only an Office Monkey two days a week. This is great news, gives me that extra day to get all knowledgeable.

I'm in the office at the moment. Worked very hard this morning, completed my quota so I can relax now. Mark, Claire and I have been writing a story for the past 6 hours. I'd like to share it with you as it is a) very amusing b) has a good narrative c) definitely worthy of being published. Unfortunately it's also a) very long and b) contains some scenes rated PG. It's about 3 Sicolinans (aliens) called Doo, Arthur and Obi Ten Gin-Warbler, who go on a hobbit-type adventure through the galaxy, along the way meeting the likes of Celine Dion and God. They find themselves in all sorts of odd places, including a cave equipped with Sky TV and a white leather sofa, a McAstro restaurant in Zelgas, the Galactic Nitro Hydro Quardox Dazzling Disco (where Celine Dion was playing having been deported from planet Earth for humanitarian reasons), and finally, the legendary Drenalogue.

What exciting news do I have for you? Erm, er, well, I nearly got hit by a car TWICE yesterday when on my bike. That was fun. Almost headline news. Certainly headline news if we're talking local press. I don't think I could work for a local newspaper, I'd be too embarrassed. The stories they run can be hideously cringeable. Last week, Bristol's Observer ran a front page story about a potato lorry that got stuck in a drain. They even printed the accompanying photo SIDEWAYS just so it would fit on the page properly! The only redeeming feature was that the lorry was carrying potatoes from my hometown of Hereford. I guess I should be grateful that it's potatoes making the headlines, not crime.

I phoned the admissions secretary at Sheffield University yesterday. Have I already told you that? Can't remember - I can't check either as I haven't got internet access here at work, it's the company's "e-policy". Anyhow, I was asking about entry requirements, and they tell me that I have to have the equivalent of three B grade "A" levels. Crikey, no wonder I'm stressing out! "A" levels usually take two years, not the one that I'm doing them in! At least I love college. I'm starting to feel quite at home there now. People are kind. Make me happy.

What is it about autumn leaves at 5pm? Just magical. The warm golden glow in a freezing breeze. I find it hard to stop gazing out of the window at the sycamore trees in front of our office. I think they're sycamores - I'm not very good at tree names.

I have to cycle home soon. 10km. It's my turn to make supper tonight. What culinary delight shall I conjour up? We've got lots of root vegetables from the allotment at the moment, and pumpkins too. Yes, well, fish & chips it is then. I haven't had fish & chips for months. aaahhh my brain is so frazzled. I've been sat in front of this computer for over 9 hours now, almost non-stop. That's why I'm drivling so much.

Ok, the lady who sits behind me has gone home now, so I can sneak off without being missed.

tara.

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Monday 20th October 2003 - 23:04(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

I like living here. We play silly games together, Tim, Melanie, Callum and I. Earlier on today, Tim managed to convince me that my jeans that had been hanging on the clothes airer for two days were actually his. The thing is, Tim never lies and Tim is ALWAYS right. I don't say that in a sarcastic tone either, Tim is ALWAYS right. But today he made a mistake, he thought my jeans were his, and so I believed that the jeans that I knew to be mine were actually his...

Well anyway. My house chore is to clean the upstairs bathroom. I should do it every week, but the last fortnight has been so hectic I just haven't had a chance. This evening, in a bid to MAKE myself clean it, I stuck a little notice up above the toilet. It read: "I promise that the bathroom will be cleaned by 12pm on 21/10/03. Joseph."

On my next trip to the loo I noticed that someone (mentioning no names but let's just say he doesn't know his Levis from his £2.50 replicas) had stuck a piece of paper over the word "bathroom" so that the note now read "I promise that the whole house will be cleaned by 12pm on 21/10/03. Joseph." and so it went on.

It did make me giggle, our little battle of imaginative unspoken wits.

My original sign
Tims adds a bit!
I modify it further to implicate Tim
...who then gets the better of me once more...

There's a similar story being played out with the fruit bowl, but it's a bit of a long story. Meanwhile, I have called a house meeting (to be held next Wednesday) to discuss such important issues as

- what is the correct position for the shower hose after using it? In the bath or hanging over the side?

- the rule about no phone phone calls being made until after the washing-up has been done

- should we have a drying-up person or leave the pots and pans to drip-dry overnight?

- who is leaving hair in the bath?

- how should we go about informing visitors that the upstairs toilet easily gets blocked and is not to be pooed in? and yes, we know that the downstairs loo hasn't got a lock on the door.

I've even made up some little RSVP invites - here's an extract from one:

I'll let you know how it goes.

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Monday 20th October 2003 - 23:32(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

So yes, I'm feeling happy tonight, being here in this lovely home.

Other exciting news in the life of a me: My mobile phone broke on Wednesday, so my service provider delivered a brand new one to my office on Thursday. The day was spent transferring my phone numbers back onto its memory - and then that handset broke as well. 15 hours later a third handset was delivered, which (touch wood) has since been working no problems. Sadly though, I'd lost my Austin Powers ring tone... so, I did a quick internet search and found a ring tone site that rather stupidly puts all of its 2000+ ring tones online for you to listen to before buying. Being the sad muppet that I am I then spent about two hours saving a whole load of these onto my computer, before transferring them to my phone via infra red. This now means that many people in my phone book have a unique song attached to them. For example, if my new nephew Jamie phones I'll hear Winnie-the-poo. My brother gets "I'm a Barbie Girl" whilst all of my female friends share the ring tone"I just called to say I Love You".

The only thing is, no-one ever phones me :-( so I've spent the past two days phoning myself from my land line just to listen to the polyphonic beauty of Bob Marley...


College is fun and mad as ever. We've begun to fill in our university applications now. Although we're advised to choose several degree courses, I can only find one that I really want to do: Japanese Studies at Sheffield. The only other uni that has a decent Japanese department is SOAS, but a) they only have links with two Japanese universities, neither of which are in Tokyo, and b) I don't want to live in London. I'll just have to make sure I get all the credits I need this year to get a kind of guaranteed place at Sheffield next year.

New words learnt today include promulgated, propounded and ploritariat. They're real words, honest.

This evening I finally finished preparing for the six-page essay on the censorship of television news that I have to write in English tomorrow. I can't believe how many pages of notes I've written: fifty one! Yes, fifty-one pages of notes for a six-page essay! Mad. I'd better get that grade 3 mark that I need after all that work.

Yesterday Emma, Colin and I headed over to Oxford to see Jamie again - it's extraordinary how much he's grown in the first three weeks of his life. Emma and I presented him with Bob, a rocking horse that we spotted in an antiques market several months ago. It was one of those "we HAVE to have that" situations!

mummy and baby
Jamie asleep on Bob


Jamie was more interested in sleeping than rocking though - sensible lad!

Having been quite grumpy, ill and lonely for much of last week I'm feeling a lot better this week. Maybe it's because we've turned the central heating on. Maybe it's because my dreams have been comforting. Maybe it's because I've now got a radio in my room. Maybe. Actually, I think it's because I've felt quite loved and liked for the past few days.

Hhm, time for bed I think.

night night

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Thursday 23rd October 2003 - 22:55(BST/GMT+1) At home, Bristol, England

I've just watched the last half hour of the most extraordinary film: American Werewolf in London. Part comedy, part horror, it was bizarre. I thoroughly recommend it as an absolute early 80's classic. Don't watch it if you have a fear of being eaten when falling over on escalators.

Today was a real unpleasant day. I've been pulled into other people's problems that I really don't want to get involved in. This morning my manager fired one of my two colleagues. This involves me by default as there's only three, sorry, two of us in our team; it's impossible to NOT get involved. It's all a bit smelly really.

I really don't like conflict. I try very hard to stay on the good side of everyone, but in order to do so quite a lot of emotional and tactical gymnastics are necessary. If you think about it, it's quite amazing how us humans naturally carry out a continuously updating assessment of the people around us, and modify our behaviour in order to influence their thinking. I wonder if I'm doing that now? Probably.

My mobile phone situation is getting desperate. No texts for 5 days now, and even then it was just my little sister telling me she'd cleaned her water filter. Of course I could invite calls by sticking my number in here, but my experience with email addresses and web sites (I now get an average of 70 offers for penis enlargements a day) means that I know better than to do that.

Wouldn't it be handy if heat didn't rise, it sank instead - it would mean that you could turn your heater on for half an hour and actually feel the difference when lying on a futon. Mind you, the hot-air-balloon industry might not do so well. What else might happen?

 

- You'd have suspend your cooker upside down from the ceiling so that it was hanging just above the floor, but leaving enough room to fit a saucepan in.

- Home heating systems that currently rely upon the fact that heat does rise to move the water around the house would either have to be moved upstairs or extra pumps would have to be fitted. This would result in an availability crisis within the plumbing industry, causing the UK government to have to import thousands of specially trained goat-plumbers from the Greek island of Kos. The goats would no doubt demand that their wives were brought over too, causing the dairy industry to be flooded with goat's milk, and many disgruntled cows that would then march through London demanding that goats udders had meters fitted to ensure that they stuck to strict EU production quotas, or face sanctions (the withdrawal of the guaranteed minimum hay bale)

- Deep-water surfing would rapidly replace normal surfing as the top of the ocean became as cold as the very bottom of the deepest ocean currently is, and that bottom became very hot with all the heat that fell down there. Octopuses (Octopi?) would use their superior intelligence to start up a chain of deep-water surfing resorts. As they become more and more successful they will start to dream of world domination, and in 2065AD there will be the War of the Octopuses, which will see octopuses trying to pull the earth underwater with a combined sucker attempt, and mankind fighting back by attempting to drink all the water in the sea and suffering from bellyache and salty tongues.

Hhmm, maybe it's a good thing that heat rises.

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Sunday 26th October 2003 - 09:42GMT At home, Bristol, England

The Morning-After Checklist

Granny's Hip Syndrome

Hangover
Need to go to toilet every ten minutes
Memory of previous 12 hours
Surprise at having memory of previous 12 hours
Confusion as to how I spent all that money despite having memory of previous 12 hours
Realisation that there are gaps in my memory of the previous twelve hours
Urge to eat the remainder of the greasy, cold fish & chips that I bought 9 hours ago
Any idea what the photos I've found on my mobile phone this morning are of
Urge to go and take photos of Autumn leaves
Energy to go and take photos of Autumn leaves
Pizza craving

Full English fried breakfast craving

Regrets
Awareness of those gaps in my memory...

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Sunday 26th October 2003 - 16:51GMT At home, Bristol, England

Photos of Autumn leaves

Well, here's one of them. (here's some more)

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Monday 27th October 2003 - 18:05GMT At home, Bristol, England

Essay Avoidance Techniques

It seems I'll do ANYTHING to avoid the sheer horror of having to write these essays. For example, this morning I convinced myself that I simply HAD to read a novel from cover to cover, despite having had it lying around for absolutely ages, and the fact that I never read novels. At lunchtime I went shopping for a 5kg sack of Japanese rice which can only be bought in a Chinese supermarket quite a long way away from home. I've been talking about doing that since May. I counted out over 300 coins and got them changed at a post office. I hand washed five recently-dyed T-shirts. I hoovered my room. I made 4 cups of tea. I emailed the TV company that filmed me back in the summer asking for a copy of the tape. I enrolled on yet another Japanese course at Bristol university. I even cleaned the bathroom & toilet, despite having done it less than a week ago.

Are all students as afraid of writing essays as I am? And if so, why are student houses always so filthy? These were two questions that I put to a recent graduate friend. She described to me how, in the first couple of years yes, the house was a bit of a mess. But the further into the course they got the tidier the house became. By the end of the fourth year there were fights over who was going to do the washing up (everyone wanted to), and cleaning the floor with a toothbrush became a reality ("Oh, it's ok, I quite enjoy it really!").

My landlady should thank her lucky stars.


And then there was one

Last Thursday at The Office, 33% of the staff in my team were fired (that was Claire). Today, I got a text (I know, I could hardly believe it myself, that's the fourth since I put out an international appeal on the Mumble above) from Mark (who accounted for 50% of the remainder of the team), saying that he'd just told our manager that he was quitting, today. So, that means that I am now 100% of the Data Scrutiny Team. Four months back the DST was putting in 160 hours a week. Now it's down to 20. Oh the burden, the sheer weight of responsibility.. someone save me please. I'm only an office monkey, you may call me a Data Scrutiny Analyst but I only do what I'm told and treat people nicely. Having said all that, whilst lugging that rice home this afternoon I got a call from my manager in London asking me to train 4 new staff when I go in on Thursday. Then, on Friday I can go on an exciting adventure to our offices in Devon to make sure they listened properly to what Monkey said.

Whilst in the bath this afternoon (that was another essay-avoidance measure: I had a shower in early September so I certainly wasn't due for another wash just yet), I was pondering over my people-management skills. I've always found myself to be very good at managing managers from below, that is, turning the tables on them without them ever realising it. Ooh, I'm so cunning. I do this using a combination of charm, dashing good looks, seductive talk and a few shots of neat alcohol in their morning coffee. I guess there's an element of hard work involved too. Just a little one though, like that found in a mini-maglite.

oh dear look how desperate I am to avoid this damn essay. You wouldn't know it but I've just spent the past 15 minutes Google-searching for a picture of a rat wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of a particular brand of margarine. Tell me what the connection is between that and management and I'll send you a prize, a CD maybe.

Probably the one I got through the post this morning.

AOL 8 I think it's called.

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Friday 31st October 2003 - 01:33GMT At home, Bristol, England

Up late

Crikey it's one thirty in the morning and I still haven't gone to bed. If you received an email from me dated between 30/10/03 10pm and 31/10/03 1.30am then it's your fault ok.

Spent the day today playing mr nice guy for my manager who I actually have a lot of respect for despite what others say about her. She seems to have a reputation from a previous life or something that goes before her, but personally I've never found her to be anything but pleasant and straight forward. Perhaps what I had thought when I first started work was an annoying upper class snobbish streak in her was actually an inferiority complex in those who first described her to me. Of course if I tell you that today she gave me a 15% pay-rise, which she did, then you could argue that of course I'm going to harp on about how wonderful she is. Well, I like her anyhow and I don't care what other people think so naa. And I'm sticking my tongue out at you. Thank god for spell check, I always have problems with "tongue".

Spent much of the day "training" three poor sods from the Exeter office who are going to take over my job when our Bristol office shuts. (Note "training" is in those things, oh, what do you call them, you know, like double quotation marks, they look like this: """ that's three of them together though cause I had to use the outer two to define what I was demonstrating. Anyway, training is in a pair of wotsits because according the Oxford Handy dictionary which I've just looked at and now dropped off the side of the desk, to train is "to teach a person or animal a particular skill or type of behaviour", which, well, hang on, actually, I guess I did teach them the animal behaviours of office monkeys. Hhm, ok, so no "'s needed). Right, so yes I imparted (looking in dictionary to check definition. Surprise to find it not there. After 20 seconds of puzzled-face syndrome realise I'm looking in the Japanese section of my Japanese-English dictionary and not the English-English section of my Oxford English dictionary that is on the floor. Lesson: select your dictionaries with care at 1:52am on halloween.) lots of monkey know-how before arranging for some geezer to pick up two 9000inch monitors that are required for our work and take them to Exeter, meanwhile my hosts for tomorrow fixed up a card that will give us anything and everything that we want from the vending machines for free, ensuring that our meeting tomorrow will be a great success.

MEANWHILE

I'm thinking why is it taking my 2ghz laptop so long to translate my pressing of keys into squiggly lines on the screen (that's "words" for the technically minded)? Only got this one program open, and...

So why is the processor fan sounding louder than the exhaust on my sister's wing-mirror less Nissan, and why is it all going so slow?

Can someone please explain because I don't know anything about computers apart from which ones are sexy and which aren't (mine is, others aren't anywhere as near as). What's that kernal memory stuff bottom right? I don't remember sending troops into my C drive. I guess they could have sneaked a lift in on the back of that DVD I watched last night.

Today's Relationship Barometer

is reading which means I couldn't care less. No hang on that's a lie. I think it's actually read as the unconscious mind screaming "it's about bloomin' time isn't it?! whilst the conscious mind stuffs a huge potato waffle into it's mouth and says in a very loud slightly musical fashion "LA DI DA DI DA DA DA". In other words the same as yesterday and day before and day before that going back until sometime in the summer, but I thought I'd just make the point using that picture I stole off a weather forecast website when I was looking for those margarine-branded T-shirt wearing rats the other day.

Right it's 2:19am I'm going to bed.

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The Daily Mumble October 2003 Archive

 

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