Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Do you want our food tester to try that sir?

Last week a funny thing happened. We went out for a meal to one of our local pubs after a very long day. I was really looking forward to it, mmm someone else can make my dinner! But it all went a bit wrong. It didn't bode well when we got in there, a whole family were in mid Jerry Springer mode, swearing at each other and threatening to leave every 5 minutes. Then when we tried to order there was a big hoo haa about whether they were still serving (this was 7.30) but they finally agreed to serve us. Then my dinner arrived. The lady who served it said they stopped serving at 8 which confused me about why we had had to argue with them in the first place. Then we were waiting for the other meal. And we waited and waited. Finally we both made a start on mine which to be honest wasn't great. How can you make chips rubbery? Then my other half swore he saw his dinner waltz past to the only other table with people sitting at it. Then just as quickly the waitress whipped it back and disappeared into the kitchen again. 2 minutes later the meal reappeared, with one corner cut off! Sorry vegetarians, it was a steak. He was so hungry he ate it anyway but I wish we'd refused it and got our money back. I bet the other person in the pub wasn't a mystery shopper testing the wares for our benefit, and the thought that he'd licked our dinner really put us off. Next time I'm not being so lazy and cooking! But what a pisser.

Friday, August 26, 2005

And another thing...

Things that have made me cross this week:
Drivers of cars like Audis and BMWs who think that they can weave in and out of traffic with no regard for other drivers. They drive me nuts. Weaving in and out of a 3 lane carriageway with everyone doing 60 mph. We had a near miss with a BMW this morning as he blithely undercut everyone using the inside lane – which last time I looked at the highway code was a no-no – as the people in the other 2 lanes weren’t going fast enough for him. If I started taking numberplates down of ar*ehole drivers I’d be down the copshop every day and they would have to ban me for using all their resources! I want to Pimp our van with one of those police ‘slow down’ signs on the back – that would scare them, if they thought we were undercover cops!

Cyclists – still making me cross. And scooter drivers. Grrr.

My windchime. I was given a lovely wooden windchime for my birthday last year. As we lived in a flat it has been languishing in the spare room, but now we’ve moved into a house I put it up in the garden. Queue lovely melodious chimes for a day or so. Then I realised I hadn’t heard it for a few days and went to investigate. The wood has stretched so much that it almost reaches the ground so the chime is on the floor! Typical.

Barristers – this week they have been mainly very very irritating.

A lady from the Times. Oh ho, this is my favourite irritating thing of the week.Yesterday at 5.45 I received a call in the Library from a plum-voiced lady (whose name I didn’t catch when she barked it at me) who said they were writing an article and needed our crest immediately. Sadly as it was that time in the evening the librarian who deals with all bizarre enquiries like this had gone for the day (and indeed weekend) and with it being August, lots of the senior staff aren’t here as it’s the only time they can get holidays as the courts are closed. I very politely explained all this and said it would have to wait till today at the very least, or next week when everyone is back. “I’m from a national newspaper, I don’t do people being on holiday” she snipped at me. Then I lost it and told her that if she decided to phone up at some random time demanding things then she obviously wasn’t going to get what she wanted. Stick your national newspaper where the sun don’t shine! Rar!

Librarians in the news (or bad press shocker!)

Well the papers this week have been full of horror stories about a SHORTAGE OF LIBRARIANS. My god. Is there a need to scare the general public with stories like this?! I found it quite entertaining to begin with, they have basically realised that by 2010 all the doddery old librarians in public libraries will have carked it and there aren’t enough new librarians to replace them. I have a few problems with this. Firstly, I know at least 2 people who are having huge problems trying to get posts in libraries, and this is mostly because all the jobs are filled by doddery old timers. So are they supposed to temp for a few years till they pop their clogs? No. Most sensible young and hip librarians are getting jobs in the city, working for law firms or big companies – they pay better for starters, have better perks and have far better career opportunities. So then of course they don’t want to go and work for some local lending library in Liverpool or wherever, well not until nearer retirement anyway!

Then this morning on the TV the BBC ran a feature on the shortage. It was absolute rubbish. They based it on a public library in Liverpool and went out on the street to ask the general public what they thought about librarians. It was awful! They all came out with the usual stereotypes that librarians were boring, wore cardigans, had their hair in buns etc etc. Then one evil South African girl said “well it isn’t a career is it? It’s just a job”. Pft! Try telling that to the people who have spent years getting qualifications – librarianship is one of the most qualified professions there is. I’ve got a degree, a postgraduate degree and chartership, A friend of mine went crazy and has 2 degrees! Admittedly, in public libraries there are the remnants of people who got their jobs when they didn’t need to be qualified, but then they have years of experience behind them. And as for boring. Well I would find working as a shop assistant (which the South African clearly was) boring, but do I slag them off?! Any job can be boring, and public library work can be less stressful than in other sectors, but you still have to have the skills to calm down an upset octogenarian as the latest Catherine Cookson is on loan already. Seriously, you need the skills of a hostage negotiator sometimes in this job.

The BBC then drafted in a PR “expert” to tell us librarians what to do to improve our image. His suggestion? Coffee shops. Uh huh. I think Borders have the monopoly on that one already, and you remember what happens to librarians when food and drink are brought into libraries don’t you?! For my part, I would love to have Trinny and Susannah glam up a bunch of nondescript library staff, that would be brilliant! But then I think some of our users here like the stern image librarians get – they get off on being told to be quiet or to go outside with their mobile phones! There’s a fine line between librarianship and S&M sometimes I think :-)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Another librarian blog!

On my way to work this morning for some sad reason my brain started thinking about librarians in books I've read recently. This was probably due to all the publicity for the Da Vinci Code at the moment but hey, good subject for a blog!

In The Time Traveller’s Wife the main character Henry thinks that a career choice of being a librarian is a very suitable job to combine with his time travelling antics. He spends a lot of time in the stacks shelving (and often naked) to avoid users when he knows he might pop off at any time. In real life they would track him down, and even if he had gone back 25 years there would still be someone wanting to know how to use the photocopier. I once knew a “librarian” (for want of a better word) who used to go off to the stacks to have a sleep. Do you think he was time travelling too? Now I do love this book, but my practical librarian mind has issues with it. Why didn’t he become an accountant? No one would have noticed if he’d disappeared. Or in the words of someone I know was it because librarianship doesn’t require any brainpower and is mindless, so when he popped up again after a time travel, he could carry on as if nothing had happened. I don’t think so!

The Da Vinci Code: this book is great because it has a librarian from King’s College Library where I used to work. However, this book is quite obviously fiction as the librarian lets someone in who ISN’T A MEMBER and then MAKES THEM A CUP OF TEA. In a library. It would never happen. Period. The mere sight of food or drink in the vicinity of books can turn even the mildest-mannered librarian into a spitting raging ball of fury. (As an aside, I think it’s hilarious that Tom Hanks (mild-mannered actor) has been assailed by crazed nuns who think he represents the anti-christ. Poor old Tom, it’s only a day-job love, you’ll be back filming worthy yet uncontroversial films soon…)

Ghostbusters: I have a special place in my heart for this film as it starts off with ghosts in a library. But did they really have to trash the joint? I think the librarians on duty at the time would have been much better placed to politely ask the offending spectres to leave, rather than bringing in the big guns and destroying the shelving. Ah yes that brings me on to The Mummy. This film infuriates me. Kooky Rachel Weisz plays a librarian who obviously wasn’t born to the job. When she knocks all the shelves down she doesn’t look remotely guilty or concerned about the fate of the books she’s destroyed. And then she decides to go off and fight supernatural beasties. Most typical librarians would choose to remain in the libraries and let the heroic types risk their necks. And I bet she was supposed to be on the issue desk!

I’m sure there’s loads more librarians in film and fiction, but my brain just died. The sad indexer part of me every now and then when I read a book with a librarian in it thinks “ooh I should start a list” but thankfully my more normal self has prevailed so far! But is this blog the beginning of my downfall?!?!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

When librarians get the hump...

Grrr. Now my job isn’t stressful at all most of the time (except that one time we had a rush of 5 barristers at the desk) and I can do most of my jobs blindfolded, so there is absolutely no reason for me to have the hump. We’re on "vacation hours", there are far less people around than normal, and from today my boss is off so we can run riot. But I am so fed up. I can’t be bothered to do anything, I sit at my pc glowering, and watch the clock till it’s time to go home. Our poor users look too scared to come to the desk, usually I can have a laugh with them and they are mostly very sweet. And then I think that everyone thinks I must have had a row with the other half and that makes me even crosser!

I think in part it’s due to wanting to do stuff at home. There are a million jobs to do and no time while I’m forced to go to work to pay for it all! I’ve decided that my ideal job would be to do houses up, sell them for billions of pounds and then be able to retire in ten years or so. I love deciding what colour to paint rooms, and if I had a huge budget for expensive furnishings and gadgets it would be great! But I’m sure once I’d finished I’d want to live there and would refuse to sell it. I was watching one of those property programmes the other night, and there was this brilliant house which was an upside down house. It had a lovely courtyard and was really quirky but the couple who were looking to buy weren’t interested at all. If I had half a million quid to throw around I’d have had it.

On the plus side though, today I had to go and buy a birthday present for my sister-in-law. I got her ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ on DVD (her video has worn out she’s watched it so much!) and when I got it to the till it was cheaper than it said (I love it when that happens!) and as an added bonus I got some free stickers! I have absolutely no idea why, but they cheered me up no end.

I need some celebrity gossip to cheer me up. It’s been oh so quiet on the Cruise/Holmes front, the most exciting thing that happened this week was that Madonna fell off a horse. Come on celebs, do your stuff!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Customer service taken to extremes...

So, tomorrow a brand new lovely shiny kitchen is being delivered to our new house. (I am obsessed with all things housey or gardeney at the moment, where has my obsession with vodka and all things purple gone?!). But the company we bought it from was supposed to phone yesterday to confirm, so I called them today to check. It’s all fine, and will be delivered as expected. But as a bonus, I had a brilliant conversation with the man on the customer services helpline. He was lovely (but a bit crazed I think) and took it really personally that we hadn’t had the phone call.

Englebert: (names have been changed to protect the innocent crazed helpline operator): "Oh I am SO SO sorry, you should have had a call yesterday. I really don’t know what went wrong. PLEASE accept my apologies"

Me: "Oh that’s ok, I’m just pleased it is being delivered"

Englebert: "I mean I am SO sorry, what can have gone wrong? This is awful, you really shouldn’t have had to phone us!

Me: "No really, that’s fine"

Englebert: "It is awful that you didn't get a call. But please accept my assurances that it will be delivered tomorrow afternoon. Now, can we fit a lorry the size of a double decker bus outside your house?"

Me: "?? … Yes, I’m sure it won’t be a problem" (thinking, "what would happen if I said no?")

Englebert: "Goodo! They do drive big lorries you know."

Me: "!!!!"

And on and on and on. Bless him! It was like he’d built the kitchen himself and it broke his heart to think that his company might have upset us. Nowadays I am surprised if companies do phone/deliver when they say they will so it really wasn’t a big deal. But he definitely earns gold customer services stars from me, I might ring him again tomorrow just to definitely check it’s on the way! I just hope the kitchen comes with a big shiny ribbon on it and extra gold accessories to make up for our distress :-)

Friday, August 05, 2005

My neighbours get their comeuppance!

This has made me so so happy, and I know it’s evil. As we’re leaving our flat soon we had some people come to look at it the other night. As you may or may not know, our upstairs neighbours are the spawn of satan and have made our lives hell. They have a little girl who screams constantly, runs around with clogs on till gone midnight, and never seems to leave the house or go to school. The wife speaks very poor English and screams at the little girl in Russian (which sounds much more threatening than in English, I’m sure it’s all about kneecaps and concrete shoes). The husband is very strange too but can manage to tell us how it is (in his ideal world) in English. We share the garden and the drive, but when we moved in the husband made it very plain that he parked his car on the drive and there wasn’t room for another. And we share the back garden and washing line, but the wife (who doesn’t work and is in all week!) hogs the line all weekend so we can’t use it. And we can’t sit in the garden due to the presence of the evil little girl with toys everywhere. We have never bothered to bring this up with them as we knew we weren’t staying there for that long, and I have had enough problems with bad neighbours for a lifetime.

But anyway, the couple who want to move in are better than my wildest dreams could possible have come up with (with the exception of some chavs with a big stereo system and a rottweiler). She is 9 months pregnant, about to give birth – queue screaming baby. She also has a dog, and announced that she wanted to divide the garden up with a fence. They also want to park on the drive. Go new people!! It was all I could do not to hug them! They are a really nice couple, but unlike me, don’t take any shit. The upstairs neighbours are so getting what’s coming to them. I wish I was around to see it.

A whole week off to argue about paint!

So next week I will be mainly trying to decide what colour to paint the kitchen and the lounge. It’s really difficult when there’s another person involved, when I lived by myself I painted my bedroom with one wall lilac and the rest cream and it was lovely. Now I’ve got to agree on a colour scheme with my lovely husband. We don’t disagree a lot, but I’m sure whatever I say is nice he will say the opposite! Queue lots of pointless arguments, and I get all cross and irrational over things like kitchen cupboards and blinds. But I should enjoy it, I’ve got the opportunity to make it feel like our home and we can do whatever we want, so why stress? If it doesn’t look right we can change it. But of course I will stress. I’ll want a nice shade of cream (how exciting am I?!) and hubby will want a very slightly different shade (not obvious to the naked eye) and world war 3 will break out. So when I get back to work I hope to have a lovely kitchen and lounge that isn’t the greenish white colour it is at the moment. And still have a husband of course! Sure I will :-)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Go Lauren Bacall!!

Well she is only saying what everyone else is thinking! In these days of libel actions and litigious celebs, it’s heartening to see someone unafraid to have a right old go! I guess if I was 81 I would say it how it was too! You can always blame it on senility and get away with it (though if you’re reading this Lauren, I’m obviously not referring to you so please don’t sue me). Poor Tom Cruise seems to have dropped out of the media circus lately, how long do you think it will be before the break-up with Katie is announced due to "work pressures"? I wonder if he will respond to his slagging by Lauren, she also had a go at his ex-wife a while back too. But then Tom himself isn’t averse to random attacking of other celebs, poor old Brooke Shields must have wondered what she did to deserve that. Ooh how I love the bitchy backstabbing world that is celebville, I’m just glad I only have a ringside seat and am not in the firing line. Who will be next?

Monday, August 01, 2005

"Computer glitches" or just plain incompetence?

We finally got the keys to our lovely house at 4pm on Friday. And of course, it being me, it didn’t all go to plan. At 11.30 we called the estate agent hoping to be told that we had completed and could get into the house. No such luck. Queue calls every hour, by 3pm I was starting to think it would be Monday before we got them. Our solicitor (the monkey trained one) insisted that the money had left their account but it hadn’t reached the seller’s. So I asked the obvious question of "you did send it to the right account didn’t you?". This was met with a slight pause and "oh of course, we double checked that already" (i.e. "as soon as I get off the phone I’ll be checking that immediately") and so the money was lost in cyberspace. Then at 4pm we got the call, hurrah!! Turns out (the solicitor’s secretary probably shouldn’t have told me this) that their computers were down in the morning so the money wasn’t sent "first thing" at all and that explains why it took so long. If they’d just admitted that in the first place I wouldn’t have minded so much, at least I would have known not to have all the family down at 11.30 sitting around tapping their feet and drinking far too much coffee.

So we are house owners. And despite all the stress, tears, nervous breakdowns and arguments, it has been well worth it. It’s such a weird feeling having your own home, I’ve lived in rented flats or houses of one form or another for about 12 years, and I have never stayed anywhere longer than 2 years. (I’m not on the run from the law, I just move a lot!) So knowing that I will probably be in this house for years (well until I can face the prospect of selling – so that will be never) is a bit odd. But exciting too. There’s so much potential (and so much to be done too!) that it will take about 20 years before it’s how we want it. We have an apple tree and a runner bean rack at the end of the garden – I must be getting old, as I was so excited at the prospect of growing beans and tomatoes that I thought I might be sick! (I am ignoring the fact that I have no idea how to do this much less taming the garden itself). Long gone are the days when I got excited at the prospect of going dancing every night and being sick from vodka abuse every morning. Hellooo old age!