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dorsetgirl Below are 25 entries, after skipping 25 most recent ones in the "dorsetgirl" journal:

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July 25th, 2014
10:32 pm
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Random post is random...
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I realised I hadn't posted for a while so I was trying to think of something to post about. While I was driving to bank-town this afternoon I had loads of ideas, complete with witticisms and fully-formed sentences. But now I can't think of anything to post about, so I'm just going to dredge up a couple of snippets.


[1] WimbledonCollapse )


[2] Kay Scarpetta novels of Patricia CornwellCollapse )


[3] World War 1 CentenaryCollapse )


Random post was indeed random, and rather longer than I'd intended.

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June 26th, 2014
08:25 am
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On being awkward...
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OH has got the hump with me, just for a change. He's arranged to go and do something connected with his hobby this morning, and to that end has spent the past half an hour moving boxes about. Luckily I established several years ago that this was a job better suited to teenage boys than knackered middle-aged women, but I was still slightly surprised (and pleased, obviously) that he didn't ask me to help.

Just before he went out he asked if I was planning to go out today. There's the shopping to do of course, and I really ought to go to bank-town to do bank stuff. He asked me what time I was planning to go out and I said I didn't know. So then he said he was planning to go swimming after the hobby-thing so could I perhaps do my going out after that, because he had another parcel coming. It was all perfectly polite and friendly, and on the face of it quite reasonable, but what he was actually saying was "I've arranged my day - I'm playing, hobbying, all day - and I'd like you to arrange your day, at zero notice, around waiting for my (hobby-related) parcel to arrive." This is by no means the first time this has happened, and I've had enough of it.

This is a man who is very well-meaning, kind and generous, but self-centred to an incredible degree (typical only child!) I don't think it actually occurs to him he's being selfish, but it's got to be stopped - I sometimes feel that I need to be a contrary bitch just for the sake of it, to stop him from walking all over me.

So I said - almost politely - that I didn't know if it was convenient to wait in for him to get back and that he needed to stop arranging for parcels to arrive on days when he had no intention of being here.

He walked out without another word and drove off. When I came into the sitting-room to write this I discovered that he'd left the light on, dumped a pile of his magazines on my computer chair, and there are instruments and papers all over the settee so there's nowhere to sit.

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June 6th, 2014
11:29 am
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D-Day Anniversary
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Please consider following, or at least having a look at, @RealTimeDDay on Twitter. It's an "as it happens" account of D-Day and there's clearly a lot of work gone into it. I'm finding it very moving and humbling to read - in between pottering about doing my safe little jobs - about what happened that day.

Due to the hard work of @pn_sambannister, anyone with even the most casual interest has more information at their fingertips than probably even the most senior people did on the day.

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June 4th, 2014
10:19 am
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Anyone know of a five-dimensional family history modelling tool? No?
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So, for some fairly random reason, the announcement of the Abdication of King Juan Carlos of Spain got me looking into the relationships between the British Monarchy and that of Spain. As a family historian, the tangled inter-relatedness of the European monarchies is something that’s interested me for a long time - there’s something about the contrast of the glamour and the tiaras with the often tense relationships and an entire life lived on duty - but I foolishly decided to try to chart out the relationships between these two particular royal families.

Given that Kate Middleton’s and even Lady Diana Spencer’s royal antecedents are some considerable way back, I decided to concentrate on the relationships between the two current reigning couples: Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, King Juan Carlos & Queen Sofía.

In these days where it’s increasingly common for royalty to marry "commoners", it can come as a surprise to find that the Consort of a Monarch is every bit as royal in their own right, but it needs to be remembered, for example, that even during the 1970s, it was widely assumed that Prince Charles might marry a European Princess. (Princess Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg was one of the candidates discussed in the press, and she did indeed go on to marry European royalty, in the form of Archduke Carl Christian of Austria.)

And in the case of the two couples in question, the consorts are indeed every bit as royal as the monarchs. To put it at its simplest, all four of the people listed above are descended from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: the Queen from their son King Edward VII, Philip from daughter Princess Alice, King Juan Carlos from daughter Princess Beatrice and Sofía twice from daughter Princess Victoria (via the Kaiser and King Paul of Greece). That makes them all third cousins to each other.

Three of the four are also descended from King Christian IX of Denmark (who is known as "the father-in-law of Europe" because so many current and former European monarchies are descended from him and his wife, Louise of Hesse-Kassel): the Queen from their daughter Princess Alexandra, Prince Philip from son Prince George (who became the King of Greece) and Sofía from son Prince George and daughter Princess Thyra. That makes the Queen third cousin twice over to Sofía and second cousin once removed to Prince Philip.

Queen Sofía is also descended from Queen Victoria’s half-sister, Princess Feodora of Leiningen.

It should be noted that in order to focus on these four people, I’ve been casually "hiding" on my diagrams any number of Kings, Queens and Tsars of Romania, Denmark, Greece and Russia amongst others, not to mention endless Dukes, Grand Dukes and Archdukes, Princesses and Empresses. I’m also pretty certain that there are lines of descent, even just from Queen Victoria and Christian IX, that I haven’t yet discovered, because I haven’t yet followed down every descendant, just the more obvious ones.

And let’s not even think about looking at the many and various relationships these people have through their descents from Kings George II and III of England.

All of which makes it extraordinarily difficult to draw an actual picture of the relationships, but I don’t suppose that will stop me wasting more hours trying.

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May 20th, 2014
11:58 am
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I don't think I'll ever understand this school...
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Youngest son came home a couple of weeks ago very pleased with himself, and announced that he had been invited "as one of the best mathematicians in the year" to take part in "some [external] Maths thing", and that he had told them he would go. We’re fairly accustomed to this sort of thing - despite apparently not qualifying as "Gifted and Talented", all three of them have on various occasions been invited to take part in external maths/science/computing things as one of the top ten or so in their year group - so I just congratulated him and put the date in the diary.

Yesterday I finally received the official email telling me about this outing. It confirms that only ten students have been selected (out of about 150 in the year group), but it is the stated purpose of the day that took me by surprise:

"...to encourage interest in Maths with a view to studying it at ‘A’ Level and beyond."

Well. This is a child whose parents and eldest brother muster between them - amongst other things - one Maths degree, five Maths ‘A’ Levels and a Further Maths ‘AS’ Level. And his other brother is in Year 12 currently working towards a Maths ‘A’ Level and a Further Maths ‘AS’.

This is seriously not a student who needs the idea of doing Maths at ‘A’ Level bringing to his attention. In our family the idea of not doing it would be more thought-provoking, and certainly at this stage youngest son is taking it completely for granted that at the end of next year he will go on to do Maths at ‘A’ Level. (I should clarify here that we listen[ed] with interest to thoughts on which ‘A’ Levels they want[ed] to do, but absolutely do not attempt to tell them which ones they "should" do.)

So while I’m obviously pleased on youngest son’s account for the recognition and the hopefully-interesting day out, and I'm definitely not going to stop him going, it strikes me that there must surely be more "deserving" candidates for this trip. For example students who are very good at Maths, but whose families are Arty and would find the idea of doing Maths ‘A’ Level as disturbing and "unsafe", if I can put it that way, as we find the idea of not doing it.





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May 12th, 2014
11:43 am
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Another survey...
Just did a survey for the Open University. Standard kind of stuff - look at a couple of ads, answer a few questions.

The question as to which one I preferred was very simple - the plain, clean-cut tidy one rather than the messy "creative" one.

But the next question was "How well did these adverts convey [ our key message ]? *blinks* *does double-take, goes back for another look*

Nope. Not getting it. Sorry, either I fail or you do, and it's not me that's spent thousands on developing these ads, so that would be - you.

But at least I got a chance to tell someone about something I've been marvelling at for years:

I tend to hear a lot of ads that I don't actually see, because I'm at the computer while people have got the television on. It's quite amazing the number of ads that don't give any clue in the audio as to what product they are advertising. I asked on my survey form whether advertisers, including the OU, are actively trying to exclude people who don't have good vision, and I asked if they thought that was a good idea, or indeed legal. To me, the audio for the ad they were researching could equally well have been for life insurance, sanitary protection or a new car, and I asked if they thought that was a good idea. I certainly never would have guessed it was for the Open University, and that's the point - why make anyone guess? Why not make it clear? (Unless it's a deliberate teaser of course, which is a different animal altogether).

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May 8th, 2014
10:59 am
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Another stupid, poorly-worded survey
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I've worked in Market Research departments of large food manufacturers and in general it's a degree-level job requiring - amongst other things - clear thinking and good writing skills. The majority of surveys I see at Valued Opinions are so stupid and ambiguous that I wish the people writing them worked for me so I could sack them. This is what I put in the feedback form for the latest one:

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"I do most of my grocery shopping in stores". Nope, I’m British, and we do our shopping in SHOPS not stores. "Stores" is quite a different thing.

You asked me to rate the overall customer service I receive - in a list of shops I’ve said I never use. And there’s no option to say "I wouldn’t know because I never use this shop."

Then you asked me to comment on prices. How am I supposed to know the prices in five shops I HAVE ALREADY TOLD YOU I NEVER USE?

I don’t even know what "prices I can trust" means. A price has no personality or agency so it cannot do anything to be trustworthy or otherwise. Do you mean can I trust the price to not change between the shelf and the checkout? I don’t think that’s about trusting the price, it’s about trusting the retailer.

The same applies to "special offers I can trust".

How am I supposed to know about the range available in shops I HAVE ALREADY TOLD YOU I NEVER USE?

Describing the budget own brand - this question is ambiguous as to whether you are asking about the number of products available or the quality of the products.

Rating each retailer in terms of importance to me - another ambiguous question. Do you mean for food and groceries, or for their entire range of products? It makes a huge difference to the answer for Marks & Spencer and Amazon.

How am I supposed to know how well each retailer meets all its customers’ needs? I have no idea who their customers are and what their needs might be, so it is impossible for me to judge. And why would you even want to know what my wild guess is? You would get more truthful results if you had a "Don’t Know" box.

I don’t believe any retailer is "on its customers’ side" - by definition they are obviously on THEIR side not ours. They would go bankrupt in five minutes if they were "on our side" rather than their own. But that’s not the same as thinking they are "against" us!

At some point this questionnaire seems to have moved from "food and grocery" to "anything you might use them for" but that point was never explicitly stated. I have therefore assumed that you mean "anything" unless "food and grocery" is stated.

I have no way of knowing how shops treat everyone else! So how can I judge whether they treat everyone the same or not? This questionnaire is ridiculous.

I don’t understand the question asking me how I would rate each supermarket on its reputation. You seem to be asking me whether I think it is excellent or poor that Aldi, M&S etc have whatever reputation they have. But I don’t actually know what reputation they have!

The only scale that would make sense here is "I consider the reputation well-deserved" to "I consider the reputation not deserved". But even that makes no sense unless you specify whether you mean their reputation amongst customers, staff, the stock market, financial analysts, environmental activists, suppliers, competitors etc. This survey is so woolly-minded I don’t think anyone should be basing any business decisions on the results.

I got kicked out of another survey for counting a 19-year-old as a "child". This survey explicitly includes 19-year-olds as children and I would be very interested to know on what basis it has been decided that 19-year-olds are children for this survey.

# # #

If only there were some chance these people would actually read my feedback and act on it...

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April 30th, 2014
08:25 am
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Just for once, can't somebody else take some responsibility please.
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Bloody annoyed right now. OH has a consultation this morning about a possible cataract operation and he expects ME to do the research on possible complications because “you’re better at remembering”. No I’m not, I just work harder, read more, take notes, and don’t expect to be told the truth without a lot of digging and questioning.

Youngest has been invited for a Meningitis C jab. In general we don’t do vaccinations so there’s some more research, oh and by the way he’s just told me the deadline for the permission form is tomorrow.

Middle and youngest both have work shadowing coming up. We’re supposed to organise those ourselves. Youngest is supposed to be shadowing a family member. I wrote to the school two years ago on this subject, explaining that neither of us have jobs that are appropriate or useful for shadowing, and that the nearest family member with such a job is three hours and 200 miles away. And as a family with autistic tendencies we don’t have rafts of useful friends (and all of OH’s friends are penniless musicians anyway). I also pointed out that I see this method as being deliberate perpetuation of privilege or disadvantage, and it wasn’t done this way when I was at school - the school did the organisation and accepted that not everybody had useful contacts or daddies who worked in the city. (This school has grandiose ideas nowadays about who its students are and where they're going.)

They never bothered answering, so this time I’m going to send them the same letter, make it clear it’s the same letter, and copy it to the Council Education Department. And possibly my MP.

Anyway, OH will be back from the paper shop soon, so back to my research...

Oh yes, and the hob is going home rapidly. I’m down to an oven and one small ring right now. More research, more expense. I’m drowning.

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March 12th, 2014
08:46 am
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"Shetland" BBC series - No Spoilers
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I enjoyed Shetland very much last night. It makes such a pleasant change from all those programmes set in cities, to be able to watch someone wandering about in the open air, and talking to people who aren't city dwellers.

Spending an hour staring at Dougie Henshall isn't exactly hardship, either.

It's not till I watch a programme like Shetland that I realise how tiring I find it to watch programmes where everyone has hard city voices, or American accents, or talks like they're in East Enders. I understand from comments on reviews that not many of the characters exhibit genuine Shetland accents, but as an ignorant Southerner that doesn't worry me at all. It also doesn't worry me that I miss 10% of the dialogue as the accents are so different to what I'm used to, because unlike most television, for me the accents in Shetland are a positive pleasure to listen to. (I loved the accents in Broadchurch too, at the other end of the country only thirty miles from my home town, so it seems unrelated to any kind of preference for the exotic.) Perhaps I just prefer rural accents.

The music is good, too. At one point, OH came into the room and said "How can you put up with that boring music?" I hadn't even noticed it, other than to be vaguely aware that there was some. Personally, I think that’s a mark of excellence in tv music. For me, music in a tv programme should in general support or enhance the mood, and not force itself into your consciousness where it's not needed. So in Doctor Who's Boomtown, the music early on is very evident, creating and emphasising the unusually relaxed and jaunty mood the Doctor is in, while in The Parting of the Ways the music is epic where great endeavours need supporting, and haunting when things get sad. And in Shetland, the music is exactly where it needs to be, gently in the back of your mind like the grass and the clouds and the sea.

So, last night’s episode (still no spoilers). There is a murder, of course. (That's a MUH-rr-DUH-rr, not a mur-dur.) And Dougie Henshall wanders around solving it. But I'm never a great one for plot in detective stories - I have a lot of books I'm happy to read time and again because I can never remember Who actually Dun It - and my favourite part of programmes like this is to watch the interplay of characters and to see how a character's interior life affects their exterior, or is put firmly in a box out of the way.

One of the things I found very satisfying in this episode was that when someone made an important plot-advancing discovery, you were shown very clearly how that person's relationships with their family and others had caused them to be in that place at that time. And we were also shown more clearly than often happens, how the victim's home life, and that of her best friend, led her to be where she was, and for her friend not only to not be there with her, but to have no idea why the victim would have been there. "She knows I'm not allowed out so much - it would be like rubbing it in my face, so there was a lot she didn't tell me."

Perhaps I just need to have things explained to me more than some, and maybe I like life to be mainly calm and predictable, and that's why I enjoy this programme so much when many people apparently find it incredibly slow and boring. But whatever the reason, I do enjoy it very much, and when the series is over I shall consider buying the books. I just hope there is nothing in the books’ descriptions of DI Jimmy Perez that might upset my visualisation of Douglas Henshall wandering around the endless hills. I like to read in bed, and that's a vision I'd be quite happy to go to sleep on.




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March 11th, 2014
12:03 pm
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Yes, I know sometimes I sound like Sheldon Cooper. I don't see that necessarily as a bad thing.
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I'm signed up with one of those online-survey companies - in return for ticking a few boxes I get the occasional 50p to put towards an Amazon voucher. It has more to do with my wish to tick boxes and state my opinion than any minimal financial gain.

So I've just done the longest, most tedious and confusing survey I have ever done. As I pointed out in the "anything else to say about this survey" box at the end, I only persevered with it in the hope of telling them what I thought of it at the end.

At the beginning you have to select a "character" to represent you. There are males and females of varying skin tones and I imagine it's used as a device to get people's ethnic origins without actually asking. But by the time you've wondered how much is wish-fulfillment - do I wish I had blonde hair? would I like to be more suntanned? would I like to have the increased power/authority that men still tend to have? - and how much is simple truth, I'd think it's a bit too vague to be useful. And that's without knowing what percentage of the population will choose the "African man" picture when they're a white female, just because.

Many of the questions have two characters - "you" and "the brand" - sitting on a sofa. You can move one or other closer or further away, and the expression changes and they turn their heads towards or away from the other character. (Honestly, this survey is insane.)

Anyway, some examples of the questions:


"click on the + or - buttons to move the Boots Advantage Card character to show Boots Advantage Card’s relationship with you"

It’s a piece of plastic. It’s never heard of me and it doesn’t care about me. Even if you’re rather clumsily trying to ask what relationship Boots’ Loyalty scheme management have with me, it still doesn’t involve them smiling at me or holding my hand. This is SUCH a rubbish way to try to show business transactions and relationships, and it takes ages moving the stupid little character backwards and forwards till it looks neutral.


"Some brands capture people’s imagination, while others don’t. Please move your mouse over the screen to show how Tesco Clubcard affects people." (This question was accompanied by a plain black rectangle. As you moved the mouse from left to right across the black, more and more little characters became visible, with a little white glow around them.)

How on earth am I supposed to know how a Tesco Clubcard "affects" people? I don’t have a Tesco Clubcard. I don’t have conversations with anyone about what cards they have and how they "affect"” them. Even the cards I do have don’t "affect" me. They’re bits of plastic! They may have occasional tiny effects on my shopping behaviour, but they don’t affect ME.

I didn’t understand how to use your strange graphic system to answer this question, unless it was designed to show in some way that possession of a Tesco Clubcard brings people out of the dark or something weird like that. So I left it dark because I couldn’t care less about Tesco Clubcard.


"Please use the + or - buttons to show what you think Tesco Clubcard is like." (The graphic for this one is described in my answer below.)

I don’t understand this - you’re asking me to tell you whether I think a Tesco Clubcard is running along a road looking happy, or walking along a road looking sad? I only persevered with this rubbish in the hope of giving my opinion at the end.


"It doesn’t matter how well you know the brands – it’s just your impressions that count."

And here is the fundamental fault in the premise. You’re assuming that I care enough - about loyalty cards from shops I never use - to have an impression or an opinion. I find these surveys very difficult to understand sometimes.


"Please click on the words you think fit. You may choose as many or as few as you think apply."

I chose none, because I don't have any knowledge or opinions about Tesco Clubcard. (One of them was 'Confident'. How can a piece of plastic be confident ffs? Please, this anthropomorphism is getting ridiculous.) So then I got this:

"Please click on the words you think fit. You may choose as many or as few as you think apply.
Please check at least 1 box in this column (you checked 0)."


Don’t you ever READ your own questions?


"Which of these loyalty cards or schemes have you seen, read or heard anything about recently?"

Does that include in the past forty-five minutes, spent on this increasingly tedious survey?


"I worry about money and bills more than I used to"

What time period does 'used to' refer to? It makes a big difference to the answer.


"Which, if any, of these websites do you regularly visit? 'Other (specify)' "

What, ALL of them? There are too many to mention, but we could start with Twitter, LiveJournal, FindMyPast, BBC, MoneySavingExpert, my bank. Some kind of limiter would be useful here!

By this time I was too bored with the whole thing to fill in more than half a dozen, but perhaps I should have included Norad Santa, which I visit regularly, ie every Christmas Eve. Please, stop using 'regularly' when you appear to mean 'frequently'.


My kids laugh at me for the way I "go on" at companies when I think they're wrong or being stupid. I don't watch The Big Bang Theory myself (although I overhear one or two episodes most days), but I've never felt as close to Sheldon as when his friends told him he was being daft for doing the same thing and he said "But how else will they learn?". I do my best...



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February 6th, 2014
12:16 pm
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Why can't anything just WORK ffs?
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The MOT on the main family car runs out on Monday. I was very proud of myself for very organisedly having got it booked in at the garage we bought it from so as to - for the first time in my life - keep the little service history book properly up to date and ticky-boxed. (This, I learned to my cost when the previous car was written off last year, can make a huge difference to the retail - and hence the write-off - value of the car.)

It's supposed to be going in tomorrow. Half an hour ago I got a call from their MOT technician who says that because the garage has recently been taken over by a new company, he is not licenced to carry out MOTs at present. I was so furious I said to him that I was just going to hang up and call back when I could reliably speak without saying something I shouldn't.

So I phoned back, and the person who answered the phone said "How may I direct your call?" Oh God. Don't the people who write these appalling scripts ever phone up and listen? Or do they actually want their staff to sound like robots who have been specially programmed to irritate the customer? (For the record, a simple, friendly "Good morning, company-name!" works perfectly well and has the advantage of sounding like something a person would actually say.)

Anyway, I finally got through to the service manager who told me that although the site and the facilities are unchanged, and the licenced technicians continue to be licenced under their original numbers, the business is not licenced to carry out MOTs at the premises until they provide the Department of Transport with a photo of the premises with the new company name displayed outside. And they can't stick the new (temporary) sign up until it stops raining. So, about August then, I said. He replied that it's certainly not doing the business any good.

Presumably none of them have ever heard of PhotoShop. I'm tempted to phone back and offer to do it myself.

The whole MOT thing, while of course an important safety process, is getting beyond a joke. A friend of mine used to be the senior MOT technician at the place where he worked. He would carry out MOTs himself, but it was also his job to train and supervise other MOT technicians, and to be available to any of the mechanics who had a query or a problem. Then the DoT brought in new rules that you had to log in to their system when you were about to start the MOT, and you had to enter the results within a fixed (quite short) time. Suddenly my mate could no longer leave an MOT halfway through to deal with something else - which was quite safe because there was a very detailed checklist to tick off as you went - so he had to give up either doing MOTs or supervising the others. Obviously the garage weren't willing to pay him as much since he wasn't doing as much, and they ended up losing their best technician over it.

The current relentless march towards ticking boxes as a substitute for being allowed to think is NOT progress.

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February 5th, 2014
10:31 am
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In which I'm not even sure which of us has the sense of humour failure
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I don't like to talk much in the mornings; in fact in normal circumstances it literally hurts my brain to talk before I've been up for about half an hour. The kids know this - two of them are exactly the same - and we have procedures to meet most everyday situations. For example, to wake up middle son (when I've been up only fifteen minutes) I tap him on the shoulder and hold up his freshly-ironed school shirt where he can see it. He has a little "Hi, I'm up" whistle which he does when he gets downstairs, which I acknowledge with a wave of the hand or a "mm-mm" kind of thing. By the time youngest gets woken up, I've been up half an hour, so "time to get up" are often my first words of the day. He grunts acknowledgement, and I've learned over the years to interpret his answering grunts to "do you want the light on?" He's normally ready to speak by the time he gets downstairs, about twenty minutes after I wake him.

OH is different. Not that he's chatty in the mornings - quite the opposite - but I only found out about six months ago that he'd been assuming we were all in really bad moods in the morning because there wasn't much talking going on. He spent years going off to work before anyone else was awake, and had had no idea about all this non-talking until he changed his hours, so once he was confronted with it, he decided that we were all, rudely and deliberately, ignoring him. Yup, he's an only child, how did you guess?

Most days, if there's a conversation going on, I do my best to include him in it, although he never seems very interested. If I say something directly to him, or ask if he has an opinion or any information which may shed light on whatever it is we're discussing, he just looks vague and shrugs his shoulders. But I figure that's his choice and I've done my bit.

Anyway, this morning he got downstairs just after the kids had gone off to school. Conscious of the uncomfortable silence (as opposed to the comfortable silence shared with the boys earlier), and trying to be polite and acknowledge his wish to be "included", I generally try to make some kind of conversation, greatly against my own preference.

This morning my opening gambit was "I see the Winter Olympics start this weekend", in what I hope was an upbeat, 'isn't that interesting' tone of voice. Long experience told me I really wasn't going to get anything along the lines of "Oh good, I'm looking forward to seeing the ski-jump" or anything of that nature, but I felt it reasonable to expect, at the least, something approaching polite interest.

What I got was "Huh. I won't be going." Said in the very flat, dismissive, downbeat tone of voice I always identify as "Not interested. End of conversation."

He then said "< XXX sporting event he likes to watch > started last weekend." I was still annoyed at his response, so I decided to reply in the same way. "Huh. I won't be going." Said in the same downbeat unfriendly way, a tone of voice I would normally only use when I'm really angry with him but trying to keep it fairly calm.

He then started making the annoying chuntering noise he uses to "imitate" my "nagging and moaning".

I told him I wasn't in a bad temper, that I'd said exactly the same words as him, in exactly the same tone of voice, so where was the problem?

"Yes, but I was joking," he said. "You're not."

*stunned*

I said "You were joking? I took it as 'don't care, and can't be bothered to have a conversation about it' "

He didn't reply to that, so after another uncomfortable silence I went back to the kitchen to get on with clearing up breakfast. I heard the front door go, but didn't take much notice, because he often wanders vaguely in and out several times before announcing that he's off to work.

Anyway, when I came back to the sitting room ten minutes later, I discovered he'd actually gone. He was angry enough to fuck off without saying goodbye, just because I'd misinterpreted his bad-tempered dismissive tone of voice as being, er, bad-tempered and dismissive. Incredible.

Of course, now I have to wonder how many other times I've thought he was in a bad mood when he thought he was being lightly amusing. There's clearly scope for some serious misunderstandings here!

So, if anyone can explain exactly how "Huh. I won't be going." is supposed to be funny in this context, I would - seriously and genuinely - love to know.

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December 25th, 2013
06:10 pm
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I hope everyone's having a good Christmas; I finally got The Dinner served at about 4pm and it went down very well. Every year I hate doing it, and every year I enjoy eating it just enough to figure it's almost worth all the hassle. But I'd still prefer to spend Christmas Day sitting down with everyone else.

And now I'm going to pour more wine, get out the Quality Street, and read a bit more of "Divergent" by Veronica Roth before Doctor Who at 7:30. Wine, chocolate, a new book, a new Doctor. Now that's what I call Christmas.

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December 16th, 2013
11:26 am
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Really pissed off right now...
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Oldest son came home from Uni on Saturday and I can't tell you how pleased I am that he has finally learned to cook and wants to do his own meals.

I remember very clearly the first time I went home from Uni - my mum shouted at me for going in her kitchen and cooking myself some food.

Oldest son keeps shouting at me because he doesn't like my cooker or my pans and I bought the wrong bacon.

I really wish that - just sometimes - someone would think I deserve being nice to. Just once a year would be nice.

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November 24th, 2013
09:19 pm
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Sweet!
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I find it really quite adorable that when Novak Djokovic addresses the crowd in Buenos Aires in what sounds like pretty good Spanish, he apparently does so with an Argentine accent! Bless him, perhaps he really has been learning from Delpo.

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November 23rd, 2013
06:43 pm
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Hunger Games 2 - No spoilers
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Just a quick drive-by posting for anyone who's wondering whether The Hunger Games 2, Catching Fire is worth watching - IT TOTALLY IS!

My only tiny complaint would be that the guy playing Finnick (the most beautiful man in the world) is a bit too close to the American ideal of male beauty (even though he's from Suffolk lol) to be truly beautiful to my eyes. Y'know, blond, square jaw, teeth, all that. And it did look to me rather as though they'd tried to insist on him doing a full Hollywood smile every two minutes, but him being an English boy it really didn't look as if it was coming naturally to him at all. That whole showing-your-teeth-all-the-time thing is just too American to look normal but hey, it's an American film so fair dos.

Anyway, if you liked the books or the first film, this is well worth seeing. Absolutely excellent in fact; it followed the book really well. I shed quite a few tears.

And now I need to come down from that and get ready for Doctor Who. I'm a bit nervous about it because Moffat, but we shall see *crosses fingers*

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November 22nd, 2013
08:39 am
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Geeks Unite!
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This is going to be much more of a "viewing" weekend than usual, and I'm looking forward to it. First off, Doctor Who 50th Anniversary! Tonight we have "You, Me and Doctor Who" at 9:30, then tomorrow at some point is The Anniversary Episode. (And I've just realised I missed "An Adventure in Space and Time" which was on last night. Damn.)

And the reason I don't actually know what the Anniversary episode is called, or exactly when it's on? Because I haven't bought the Radio Times yet. And the reason I haven't bought it yet, when I always buy it on Tuesdays when it comes out?

Because my local shop don't have one with my beloved Nine on the front. And yes, I have checked every single copy on display, every time I've been in there this week (three times so far).

So today I'm making a special trip to bank-and-shopping-town to check all the shops till I find one with Chris adorning the front cover. They'd just better have chosen a good picture!

I think - hope - that viewing figures for this are going to be phenomenal. My oldest (uni-boy) is a member of his uni's Doctor Who society, and they've hired a pub's function room with a huge screen so everyone can watch together.

Then after all that excitement, we need to fit in Hunger Games 2, which I'm very much looking forward to. Some of the kids' friends have seen it already and the verdict is "expletive amazing" as they delicately reported to me. (I've always said to them that while I swear on occasion and I'm well aware that they swear, they must not swear in front of me, because it is essential that they learn, and remember, that there are occasions when swearing is inappropriate and they should always monitor this and be ready to self-censor.)

So yeah, new Doctor Who and Hunger Games 2 in one weekend. Yay for geekiness!

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November 19th, 2013
11:25 am
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Tennis News and Gossip
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I’m guessing most people on my flist aren’t that interested in tennis, so I haven’t bothered explaining, just reporting. If you are, or might be, interested and want more background, feel absolutely free to ask!

So Rafa Nadal arrived in Argentina yesterday evening on an exhibition tour, tied in with the retirement of David Nalbandian. My Twitter timeline - which is 20% Argentine journalists and 70% Delpo fans from all round the world - predictably exploded. Most of the information below is from those tweets and various others where I followed up conversations.

cut for lengthCollapse )

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November 14th, 2013
09:13 am
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Reading in a foreign language is always difficult...
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I like to read while I'm eating, and this morning over breakfast I made a start on a book I bought to go on holiday with a few weeks back: Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver. I've never heard of Tim Weaver before - which probably explains why I've now typed Time instead of Tim twice - and thirteen pages in, I'm in some confusion.

For the first four pages I was completely convinced I was reading a female protagonist (it's written in first person). Even when the narrator phones home and speaks to a partner who is stated to be female, I just thought, "oh right, gay then". Then on the fifth page, someone - apparently an old friend - addresses our hero as "David", which - well, I wasn't expecting that at all. I've re-read the first four pages and I can't put a finger on why I totally took it for granted this was a woman. I suppose the most likely is that I hadn't noticed the author's name and assumed they were female, but I don't know. Something just feels a bit odd.

And there's another thing that's odd - the characters are speaking and thinking in American English, but are said to be English:

When our protagonist arrives at his/her destination and parks the car, this happens: "Popping the trunk, I grabbed my overnight bag and headed across the lot."

At this point I thought, "God, sometimes American books are just too much like hard work, specially early in the morning."

The protagonist's friend describes a period of time spent "trying to catch a break, waiting tables ... things got a little crazy", which (to me at least) is three more markedly American phrases.

And then on page 9, the protagonist and the old friend start reminiscing, slightly unconvincingly, about growing up in a village in England - we are invited to infer that it's in Devon.

Finally, the old friend announces "I have to use the can".

This book is hard work! Are these people British or American? The old friend has been in the States for five years and is a performer, so presumably chose to adapt fast to local usage. But our hero has only been there for six months and is a journalist for a British paper so it doesn't seem likely he'd be rushing to pick up American usage.

I deliberately haven't done any research yet, but at this point I'm puzzled. Have I got an American author here whose editor doesn't understand that English usage is different? Have I got a British author whose American publisher has insisted on changing things to words more familiar to American readers? Or what?

I suppose this has to rank as one of the more pointless posts of all time, but this book has me intrigued!

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November 5th, 2013
11:23 am
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Gagging Law
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If you value your right to receive information, make posts or attend protests regarding contentious issues like forests, fracking, hospitals, benefits - practically anything where politics and money collide with people's daily lives - you may want to sign this petition to give us all a chance to hold on to that right.

The petition has been raised by 38 Degrees, many of whose activities would probably become illegal under this law. The law purportedly sets out to control lobbying, which is obviously to the good, but as ever it's been so widely and badly worded that it encompasses many other activities undertaken by ordinary people and by charities, particularly in the year - a whole year! - leading up to an election.

The law has been rushed through the Commons with minimal changes and is in the Lords for voting tomorrow, so the petition is now urgent.

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October 26th, 2013
08:30 am
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Dammit LJ!
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LJ lost my entry. *starts again*

So, holiday today!

I got up specially early this morning so I could get an hour to myself, to read about Delpo’s win yesterday, to make this post etc in peace, but then OH got up only five minutes later. Bit annoyed about that. I just really wanted some time to myself before starting all the hassle of loading up and getting underway.

Anyway, my beloved Delpo won again yesterday, putting him in the semi-fanals at Basel. He’s been playing pretty well this week - against Baghdatis in the second round the other day he played extremely well. He just looked like a boss, a champion, and the commentators are in raptures over him this week. I keep trying to tell myself that I’ve managed all these years not knowing what’s going on in the tennis world, one more week won’t make any difference, but it doesn’t work. I’m really hating the fact that I will have no idea until next Saturday whether Delpo wins his semi today, and if so whether he plays the final tomorrow against Federer or against Pospisil, whether he retains the trophy or not. And Paris starts on Monday. Ah well, just being a bit self-indulgent I suppose, but I want to know, dammit!

I’ve posted several fics this week, which is something I haven’t managed for ages. One of the sort we don’t talk about on open posts, and a new Alex/Yassen. I’ve decided from now on always to post straight to AO3 as well as to here and whatever LJ comm might be relevant. I also randomly came across an old Sam/Gene which I’d forgotten all about, so I chucked that up there as well.

What else? Got a text from uni-boy a couple of days ago asking for cooking times for something. Never got an acknowledgement of my reply, but there you go.

Anyway, I need to post this and get on with something useful.

Hugs to all, see you in a week!

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October 23rd, 2013
09:45 pm
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Fic - Of Things Done and Not Done - Yassen Gregorovich / Alex Rider
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Based on characters in the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz.

Of Things Done and Not DoneCollapse )

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October 16th, 2013
10:25 am
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Learning Spanish - Multilingual HP Readalong
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Inspired by this post at linguaphiles, I ordered Harry Potter y La Piedra Filosofal from Amazon last night and will be joining in. I don't know yet to what extent, if at all, I'll be posting about it. People are doing the readalong in whatever language they choose; I've chosen Spanish.

I'm the kind of person who enjoys reading the dictionary, and etymology has always fascinated me. When my children were little and would ask me what a word meant, I would start with "Well, it's..." and they would all chant "...from the Latin word..." because that's what I usually said! I think I have a natural facility for languages, but growing up English isn't exactly the best way to explore that potential.

I've never formally learned Spanish, but I have always in some way felt "called" to this language above others. For the record, I'm setting down here my previous experiences with Spanish.

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So yeah, I'm fairly hopeful that I might get somewhere with all this. The great thing is I'm doing it because I have a genuine reason to do it, which I find a much greater motivator than simply wanting to do it. And I'm doing it slowly and casually and in my own way which is basically immersion reading, immersion listening, followed (at some point when it just starts to happen) by unplanned writing, unplanned speaking.


(*Espera Djokovic = Waits Djokovic, ie Djokovic is already identified as the next opponent and is waiting).

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October 8th, 2013
09:38 am
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It's not the size that matters...
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So on Sunday just gone, my favourite tennis player, Juan Martín del Potro, won an ATP500 tournament in Tokyo, which I am really pleased about.

On the same day, a couple of hours later, his good friend Novak Djokovic, my second-favourite player, won an ATP500 tournament in Beijing, which I am also happy about.

Here's a little look at how things went when Delpo and Nole met up in Shanghai yesterday...Collapse )

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October 6th, 2013
10:54 am
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Mine's bigger than yours...
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Up before the lark this morning to watch Del Potro's final in Tokyo against Raonic - he of the net incident in Montreal. Not as good a match as the semi-final against Nico Almagro, but the result was the right one. It's Delpo's third trophy this year, and sixteenth in his career to date. And his good friend Marco was cheering from the player's box.

Much more civilised hour for Djokovic's final against Nadal in Beijing, but that went the right way too, so I'm quite the happy bunny today.

Delpo posted a pic of his team with the trophy in the locker room after. I haven't seen Nole's yet, but I suspect his will be bigger...

I've been reading that flights from Tokyo to Shanghai tonight are all sold out; Rohan Bopanna was pleading via Twitter the other day for a lift in someone's private plane. He won the doubles final this morning and is due on court in Shanghai tomorrow but as of a couple of days ago he couldn't get a flight no way no how. Presumably the Shanghai people will do whatever's necessary to get them there, as the new champions in Tokyo.

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