26 December 2011

Christmas isn’t Christmas without presents said Jo

I’m not money orientated.  I would always choose poor and happy over rich and sad.

We all gets presents at Christmas.  Some little, some big, some expensive and some not.

This year I was completely spoiled.   I got a lot of presents, all things I wanted, from a coffee machine to theatre tickets, from body soufflĂ© to face masks.

The best present I got this year however, didn’t cost a thing.  My dad died when I was eight.  For as long as I can remember I have always been upset that I don’t have photographs of him, particularly pictures of he and I together.

This year however, my amazing mum did a photo album for me, complete with captions which told me when and where the photos were taken.  I now have about 50 photos of me and my dad, spanning from a baby with him right up until just before he died.

I can honestly say that it is the best present that anyone has ever given me.   I must have cried for an hour on Christmas morning, another “happy tears” moment.

Having something like that, something that is so special to me is more important to me, and is worth more than any money can buy.  I will treasure it forever and always.

Another soppy post, but then again, it is Christmas.

21 December 2011

A Good Year

It’s Christmas time.  So this post will not be a rant, a rave or on a subject in the headlines.

Christmas is the time of year I always look back over the past year and more often than not, have thoughts of the year to come wishing that this will change, or that will improve.

But this year, instead, I want to look back at my year and remember all the good things, and hope that they carry forward with me to 2012.  This may be a longer post than usual, but for once, that is a good thing. It means that are a lot of things to be happy about.

So here is my happy list:

Family
Family is something that you will always have, and will always be connected with my happiness.  This year has been a very good year for family.  I have founded a relationship with a sister who I have never had any time with over the years, but now we are getting to know each other and building our relationship.

This year also saw an end to a long standing argument with my other sister, who is both so very much like me, and yet so very different.  Having her back in my life, and with both of us in a place now where we understand our differences and cherish the similarities is a wonderful thing.

Friends
I’ve never been a person with millions of friends.  I prefer to have very close friendships with a few people and that is exactly what I have.  One of the highlights of my year was watching my best friend walk down the aisle, to a man who now I count as a close friend.  It is the only time in my life, that I remember, shedding “happy tears” for someone else.

It makes me incredibly happy that I have four friends that will be with me forever, probably still all as crazy as we are now.  We all have a bond that we feel lucky to have.

Added Bonuses
They say in your thirties that everything finally comes together.  You figure out who you are, what you want in life. While I definitely don’t have it all figured out, I feel like I know who I am.

Believe it or not, Twitter, and this blog helped me with that.  Although always opinionated, voicing my thoughts on Twitter, having my little rants and putting down what I think and feel on here has brought me more out of myself in the real world.

I always used to play down my opinions, was more the type to agree with someone rather than voice what I thought rather than say it.  Now I say it, and I mean it. 

There are always things that you wish you had, more money, a relationship, life in another country, but looking back on what I do have, life is good.

Sorry for the soppiness of this post, but I wish everyone who reads this a very Happy Christmas. Drink too much, laugh too loud, dance away the night and above all, have fun!

Rants and raves will resume in the New Year.


19 December 2011

The Bet

I'm a bit of a ranting person on here, (hence the name of the blog) and on Twitter.

However, something I can never say no to usually is a bet with someone.  Except this time I have really landed myself in it.

As someone who reads my Twitter feed and has seen my blog, I have been bet by a friend that I cannot last a week without some kind of rant either on Twitter or on here.  Not a problem at all! I claimed..... Hmmm.  Not sure about that.

But, in my stupidity I have agreed to the bet so am posting it here so I can't get out of it, claiming I can't remember agreeing.

So: 1 week, starting from today.  No ranting on Twitter, no ranting on the blog.  I do however have to post something on the blog in that week, just to show I am not saving it all up for when the week is over.

The loser buys the winner a bottle of something nice.


UPDATE: 21 December 14.02
Well, am now buying someone a nice of bottle of wine.  I lasted approximately 24 hours before having a mini rant on Twitter and then two very large rants today.  Oops.

13 December 2011

THINK

Bit of a change from my usual posts.

I love driving. It is one of my favourite things to do.  A clear motorway, in the fast lane, pedal to the metal, there is nothing like it.  But the thing I, and everyone should remember, is the road may be your friend, but other drivers aren’t.

Whether it is someone driving too fast in traffic, texting and driving at the same time or driving when tired, there are so many hazards and potentially fatal outcomes that you can’t predict, or sometimes prevent against.

In winter you have the additional problems of ice on the road, leading to terrible driving conditions, yet you still get some idiot on the road speeding through, endangering lives as they go.

My dad died when I was eight, killed by a speeding motorist, weaving through traffic with no consideration for others, and the consequences were fatal.  He left that accident with a broken arm, my dad never left.

There have been so many accidents on the motorways of late.  The accident on the M5 brought back so many memories.  I know how the people left behind felt.  I still remember being that little girl, asking why my daddy wasn’t coming home.

So next time you are wondering whether to have that last pint before you drive home, THINK.   Before you are tempted to take that call on the motorway without your handset, THINK.  Before you speedily weave through the traffic in an effort to catch the start of a programme, THINK.

Think because your actions don’t just affect you when you are driving.  They affect everyone driving around you, and their loved ones when things go wrong.

Christmas is a time for being with your loved ones.  It is a time when I think of my dad and wish that he were here now and that it why, every time I get in a car, and every time you get in a car, we must remember to THINK

12 December 2011

The Don’ts of a Christmas Do

Office Christmas parties.  Depending on where you work, and of course who you work with, they can either be a chore, an obligation that you are forced to attend or a fun time you look forward to every year.

At my office we all love a good time, from the office junior right to the owners of the firm.  We try to make sure we all go out every few months.  It helps with the whole “team spirit” thing I think.  A happy office is a productive office and all that.

We have two Christmas parties every year.  One which the staff pay for themselves, with drinks supplemented by the owners, and another for all the offices, with all food and drink for free.

Surprisingly however, it is the staff paid for parties that always have the gossip and all the events.

I’ve just had my yearly office party this weekend, which inspired the post today.   It went on the usual format, Christmas meal after works, then hit the bars and a club if we make it that far.

Drinks-a-plenty, dancing, general silliness and pranks are always on the go and are encouraged.   The silliness and pranks are usually after a shot or two but we all have a great laugh, owner and worker alike.

What always surprises me, are the people that forget, even though they are out on “their time” and drinking, that they are still out with the boss.  If you are wrong kind of drunk (after one drink or ten), then surely, you would either avoid the work do altogether, or just have a couple and leave it at that.

I say this as we have that type at my office.  The wrong type of drunk.  Too loud, too aggressive, the damn irritating type.  The type you need to babysit.  Being this type of drunk around your friends or family is one thing, they at least know how to handle you, but out with colleagues, and your boss is another. 

After a night spent babysitting this person on Friday night I have complied a “Don’t Do” list for work Christmas parties.  Mainly because it irritated the hell out of me.
  • If you can’t handle your drink, don’t drink or don’t come;
  • Tinsel on Christmas trees is not for stealing for your own Christmas tree;
  • If you are on the floor more than you are standing up, go home;
  • Don’t argue/insult the boss.  They will remember in the morning, even if you do not;
  • Don’t start an argument with a colleague over something stupid, they too will remember in the morning;
  • If you haven’t brought enough money out with you, don’t steal other people’s drinks.  Also on those lines, have enough money to get you home;
  • Finally, if you are over 20 and you still need babysitting when you drink, maybe work parties are not the place for you.
I’m giggly and happy after a few drinks.  I like to dance, am up for silly things and can generally be talked into a lot after a few (don’t read too much into that one, haha).

I am not the usual passive aggressive type and this is clearly a passive aggressive rant here, but I wanted to get it off my chest rather than cause office dramas.  Thankfully, my blog is not read at the office, they don’t know it exists and are not the blog reading type.

The drunken one is not going to the free office party this weekend, thank Christ, so I can eat, drink and be merry all I like.  Passive aggressive rant over.  Am aware I sound like a bit of a cow.

6 December 2011

I Want that First Hit

Soooo, was looking over the races for next year, well primarily of course  to see the BBC/Sky distribution.  Here’s the list, although if you are an F1 fan, shame on you if you haven’t already seen it!

Race Circuit Date Channel
1 Australian Grand Prix Albert Park, Melbourne March 16-18th Sky
2 Malaysian Grand Prix Sepang International Circuit March 23rd-25th Sky
3 Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai International Circuit April 13-15th BBC/Sky
4 Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain International Circuit April 20th-22nd Sky
5 Spanish Grand Prix Circuit de Catalunya May 11-13th BBC/Sky
6 Monaco Grand Prix Monte-Carlo May 24-27th BBC/Sky
7 Canadian Grand Prix Montreal June 8-10th Sky
8 European Grand Prix Valencia June 22nd-24th BBC/Sky
9 British Grand Prix Silverstone July 6-8th BBC/Sky
10 German Grand Prix Hockenheimring July 20th-22nd Sky
11 Hungarian Grand Prix Hungaroring July 27-29th Sky
12 Belgian Grand Prix Spa-Francorchamps August 31st-September 2nd BBC/Sky
13 Italian Grand Prix Monza September 7-9th Sky
14 Singapore Grand Prix Marina Bay September 21st-23rd BBC/Sky
15 Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka October 5-7th Sky
16 Korean Grand Prix Korean International Circuit October 12-14th BBC/Sky
17 Indian Grand Prix Buddh International Circuit October 26-28th Sky
18 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Yas Marina November 2nd-4th BBC/Sky
19 United States Grand Prix Circuit of the Americas November 16-18th Sky
20 Brazilian Grand Prix Interlagos November 23rd-25th BBC/Sky

The best races still on the BBC are of course Monaco, Silverstone, Spa, Brazil with Sky getting  Australia, Hockenheimring, Hungaroring and Monza. 

It isn’t a bad split, although am not happy that the first two races are on Sky.  Losing the first race is a real disappointment, it has become an institution with my F1 group of friends.

The race ritual of all coming together, drinks the night before, hot dogs during the warm up, waiting for that “Dum, dada dum dadadadada dum”.  The first race is always filled with a wave of excitement.  The whole season is laid out before you and it is a special feeling.  That first hit of the season after the Winter break, it’s intoxicating.

Going to a pub to watch the race just isn’t the same for me.  I have my race rituals, and they don’t include being in a pub.  Watching a race with the inevitable person in the back saying “They just go round and round” or my most hated “I could do that, there is no skill involved” is not going to play. I may not be responsible for my actions.

But, short of selling my soul to the devil or my body on the street I cannot afford Sky next year.  Am hoping to broker a deal with one of my F1 friends to pitch in on her Virgin deal so we can see the races the way we want to.

They say the best things in life are free, well in the case of Formula One, some of the best things, you have to pay for.


2 December 2011

We have a Soul Too

This is a blog coming from the person on the other side of the phone.

In my line of work I deal with the general public on a daily basis, both on the phone and face to face.  I deal with people from all walks of life, from the rich to the poor, from the criminal to your average law abiding citizen.

What all of these people have in common is the inability to be polite on the phone.  Anyone who deals with the general public know the type.  The person who thinks that shouting, nastiness and general rudeness will magically make things happen faster, rectify problems and generally will get them what they want.  Let me give you a very large tip here, it doesn't.

Over the years I have been shouted at, verbally abused, sworn at, threatened and reduced to tears.  None of these things make me do my job better and they will not make me want to help you.

I know it is tempting when you have a problem and have to ring a company to chase a response or complain to shout at the person on the other end to get a more immediate response.  You may be angry about an issue, but believe me, shouting at the person answering your call is helping no one, except perhaps making you feel better.

When a person calls or comes into my office if they don't shout and say please and thank you like an ordinary human being then I will always go that extra mile to help them.  Obviously the nasty people are helped too, but I'm not going to bend over backwards to help someone who is shouting/verbally abusing me.

It is more often the case that the main result of an abusive call is that the caller themselves gets more angry, gets confused in what they are saying, goes round in circles and nothing is resolved anything.  Everyone loses.

What also irritates me is the amount of times that I will be shouted and/or sworn at by a client, and then once they are transferred to the person dealing with their matter, they suddenly turn into polite, well mannered people.  The monkeys deserve respect too, not just the organ grinders.

So next time you make a call to a company, customer services or whatever, please remember that it is actually a person on the other end of the line.  Because we have a soul too.  Take a breath before you call, don't swear, and we will get along fine.

1 December 2011

Strike? No I’ll go shopping instead

Yesterday was the day of the public sector strikes.

I have mixed emotions about striking.  On the one hand you have the medical sector , emergency services, police, all of these professions do an amazing and often thankless job.

Although, as someone pointed out to me, those jobs are also a vocation, a want to help the public as well as a need for a job, I do believe that they deserve good pay, a good pension etc.

The people I have the problem with are the teachers who strike, the admin staff of the medical profession and also admin from various other public sectors, such as the Court Service.

Teaching is also a vocation, but one with good pay, a pension, job security and 13 weeks holiday a year.  I fail to see what they have to complain about.  Teachers can and do argue that that amount of holiday time isn’t a fair reflection given that they have to do lesson plans, marking etc over some points during that time.

Taking away the usual 4 weeks holidays that you would get, that leaves 9 weeks.  On the generous side of allowing 3 weeks to do the extra work, which on the average day of 9-5 equates to 120 hours, that still leaves 6 weeks of paid additional holidays to everyone else.

That is the way the school year works, I understand that, but you must appreciate that to a private sector worker like myself, seeing someone with so many good things about their job complaining and striking is irritating.  In these current times you are lucky to have a job and moaning about a tax payers paid for pension amount, which is more than the state pension the private sector gets, does not carry any favour.

My sister is a teacher, I say at this point, but I believe in what I say and am not going to not write about it because I am related to one.  She did not strike although don’t actually know what her views are on the subject.  If she reads this blog, I guess I will find out!

Even more than the teachers who strike, the people who make me the most angry are the administration staff that strike.  Teachers are at least contributing to society, teaching and educating and helping to improve lives, administration staff do none of those things.

Admin staff are just that, admin.  Part of my duties are in an administration capacity in my firm, but I wouldn’t dream of taking strike action.  Why?  Because I think myself lucky to have a job in the first place.

The last time there was a strike, I had to go up to the local Court on work related business.  When I got to the front doors I was told that I could not enter, that I would be crossing a picket line, and that the Court were on strike. 

Three members of staff that day, unbeknown to each other at that time, went up to the Court that day.  There were no people outside striking, no “picket line” to cross.  The admin staff just hadn’t shown up, probably used the day to go shopping.  If you are on strike, be there, show why you are on strike, don’t go shopping.

Incidentally, most of the large towns and cities yesterday were uncharacteristically packed with shoppers Christmas buying with their children in tow and I’m willing to bet that most of them should have been on the picket line.

So that’s the end of my little rant.  Understand some strikers, disagree with others and loathe the rest. 

Bouncy, Bouncy


So, genies. You know, the whole genie in a bottle and the three wishes deal. What would you wish for?




Genies came into my mind whilst on hold for 45 minutes to an insurance company this week. So along with charging me an exorbitant amount, they also appear to have sent me slightly mad. Daydreaming for 45 minutes apparently sends my mind to weird places.

Anyway, genies.

In the unlikely event that you ever find a genie in a bottle, what is the perfect wish?

I went through all the usual options, being rich, which doesn't guarantee you are going to be happy, love which can bring you pain, expensive possessions which in the end, are just possessions, a fast car, which I would probably end up killing myself in......

In the end, I decided what I would wish for. Which is exactly the same thing I wanted when I was six years old. A bouncy castle. Because in the end, if you have something in your life that can instantly make you smile and laugh, what is better than that?

Daydream ends and I am still on hold, but now with a hankering to go on a bouncy castle.