Tuesday, February 24, 2004

"Another Hogwarts Christmas Special"
Huzzah! A second offering from the lurid and hectic imagination of Former Flatmate A, another Harry Potter fanfiction that features me quite prominently, a wonderful late Christmas present that is hopefully second in a long series of Harry Potter fanfictions that feature me prominently. Ooh. This is called a Mary Sue by the way, in the fevered and quite bizarre world of fanfiction - a self-gratifying story in an already established fictional world wherein the author features him/herself as the hero: kind of role-playing and literary masturbation. Sort of. A truly great and amusing read and many grateful hugs and snuffles to the author - so very fabulous and with great norks.

In other news, Taxloss and I sauntered off through the cold post-work last night to the luminous, glassy Channel 4 headquarters for the launch of Grand Designs - the magazine. A great night, meeting Taxloss work chums and drinking too many glasses of quite bad red wine and then, starving, wolfing down takeaway Indian food and passing out on the sofa in an untidy heap.
In other news, I have a new blog link! (see the column on the right). This is Deputy's online writing thang, a great lady with great and interesting thoughts: read and comment, I command you!

Update on the Vile Women situation: after a day working with them as they delivered a training course here, and after double-checking everything, making sure I had everything I needed to hand and so on, they sent in an invoice for their training fee. On a comp slip there were three words to address the "issue" (me) and show it had been resolved: "Hypatia was great!" Well, gee, thanks! If it wasn't for that really rubbish letter they had sent in that did nothing but upset me for three days, I'm sure I would have carried on in my crap and "hostile" way - thank god for their intervention and their efforts to improve the organisation?s staff, because if it wasn't for them, surely we'd all be in trouble. Yeah. Sure. I had a lot of encouragement during the day from everyone around me and a healthy round of laughter when the pitiful, self-congratulatory, patronising three-word comp slip came through; this may not be the last I see of them, but from now on, I've been reassured that I will see them less often. Good.

Slightly hungover. It's very cold outside. I'm hungry and I want to be curled up in bed with a Taxloss-shaped hot water bottle. I'd like a dog too, while I'm fantasising here. ::sigh:: It's time for a cup of tea and a good long look out of the window at nothing in particular. Toodles.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

"Touch-a-touch-a-touch meeeee... I wanna be dirteeeeeee..."
Valentines weekend… Taxloss and I have been a couple since I was a teenager (well, still technically a teenager) and from the very beginning, we knew we would never be interested in all the soppy, mawkish, twee things that the embossed and sparkly, appallingly rhymed Hallmark world thinks couples will like. However, Valentines Day comes around and love is in the air and although we both hate it, we do get an overwhelming urge to do something together that will, in some way, mark the event. So: courtesy of dear old Lucifer we went off to his cinema to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, presented by the Shadow Cabaret. We didn’t dress up (I always feel inadequate when we do as Taxloss has shockingly good legs for a bloke – or a woman. Soooo unfair) and turned up with not long to go, thinking we could just go straight to the screening room and sit down, all inconspicuous. Lucifer, god bless him, found us and told us there was still some time to go and took us to the bar…

… which was full of very, very, very dressed up people. We got confronted by a fat bloke who looked like Chris Moyles in a flowery dress and too much make-up, who put lipstick Vs on our foreheads as Rocky Horror Experience Virgins. Which was nice. There was a bloke with an LED display thing around his neck that read "Rocky Horror Virgin" on loop and some nice boys in make-up and corsets and fat girls in French maid outfits and black lipstick. There was a real buzz in the bar and although I spilt my drink like a four-year old and poor Lucifer had to mop it up, we had a really exciting time just hanging around and waiting for the film to start.

There was a distinctly ropey cabaret act (bad miming and girls dancing in bras who should really wear more clothes in public). Then the film started! And there was a riot of shouting up at the screen when the lips appeared… "A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…there grew a big pair of lips and they were lovely lips…" and the few people who got goodie bags threw rice at the wedding scene and threw flowers when the bride threw her bouquet, we sang along with the "damn it, Janet" song, the cabaret performed the whole film live at the front, word perfect by the looks of it…
Everyone whipped out newspapers at the same time as Janet and then put them over their heads when she ran out to the castle through the rain, almost everyone stood up and did the time warp when the song came on. There was a line where Frank'n'Furter says something about sending "birthday cards, wedding cards, good luck cards" or something like that and everyone threw playing cards into the air, we shouted "seig heil!" when Dr. Scott turned up, party poppers went off continuously, really silly pre-empting went on throughout such as "What’s your favourite magazine?" preceding Riff Raff opening the door and saying "Hello" … and so on.

Oh, it was messy, anarchic, silly, good fun and clearly something to do when a bit pissed or looking for something different in a cinema. We laughed, we sang, we picked confetti and rice out of our hair on the way home.

And we're really looking forward to the cabaret's next project, also at the Genesis cinema: The Ghostbusters Experience. I am SO looking forward to this.

Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve just come

Friday, February 13, 2004

"No matter what, claim to be a s00per 31337 h4x0r d00d: that always goes over well."
Still angry. I realised yesterday over coffee with my bro that this complaint was written about the first time this woman met me. I believe there is a lot more she is complaining about in her little letter than just me – a filer monkey who makes the coffee and does the photocopying for her when she works with us. It makes her case worse, I think and I will point this out when I meet with superiors about it: she has given me no benefit of the doubt, no chance to get to know each other better and no opportunity to consider how new I am in writing this shitty little letter to my managers.

It is even clearer to me now that there is some other issue she is getting at through complaining about me - someone she has never met before and came into contact with for a maximum of two hours altogether on the day. It also points to the harshness of her judgement and the sense of some other criteria and influence on her criticism that she won’t disclose to us and so we are helpless to move this forward and get something useful out it all. I am embarrassed for her and her crony mate who also has decided to hate me and is no doubt drafting something now.

Oh. Still so very, very, very angry.

But moving on (still so very, very, very angry but menstrual too, so I will stop now before I foam at the mouth and start ranting in hormone-induced tongues): For the burgeoning writers frequenting this blog (most of you, I know) here’s a handy guide to how to write. Why was there no tuition in this at Cambridge? I feel ripped off – that no-good, cheapskate, wax0r univ3rsty. Grrr.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

"Marcie, don't be a pussy. You are whinier than my livejournal"
This is not a livejournal but I’m going to start with a rant because I am experiencing residual fury and frustration from yesterday and it’s not going to go away unless I vent a bit. Skip ahead, by all means, but I’ve got to write all this down – it may be useful later if I choose to file some paper work of my own.

Well, work has been stressful and strangely personal of late. It's been bad and I've been fucking up but most people seem to understand that I am new to this and are pleased to see me making the job my own rather than directly replicating my predecessor. The people I work closest with seem to respect this and seem prepared for a bit of re-working, some frustration, a few mistakes and seem willing to leave me to it for now and we’re all prepared for it to be bad before it gets good, so that’s fine. I really want to be good at this, to be respected and trusted and to become valuable for what I think and for my methods.

Although the organisation is supportive, flexible and a beacon of good practice, there are two specific people loosely connected to the main staff (and with who I unfortunately have to work closely) who are promoting the idea that it was bad before I started here and it’s getting worse now I have arrived and I am personally evil and offensive. It’s so fucking infuriating coming from two people who work with us to promote best practice and supposedly train others to perform better and more constructively in the arts to write a complaint about me that offered nothing but a list of things about me that annoyed them. No constructive comments - "she walked out when the course started, even though not everyone had arrived yet" is just an attack whereas "it would be helpful if she stayed in the room to welcome late comers" is something I can take on board and build on. I am extremely angry about this complaint: it is highly subjective, personal and judgemental with no reference to my actual duties except "sounding quite put out on the phone" and offers me nothing but a sense of failure when 1) it's really damaging at this point in my settling into the job and 2) their training careers are about empowerment and best practice / best management.

I’m being punished and judged for not being my predecessor which is ridiculous and embarrassing for them – can't they handle change? Are they unable to register me as a person with a different personality and different methods? They are a bit of a joke amongst the staff here and thankfully, no one has taken this complaint very seriously – apparently they file one against every new person in the organisation. But I am still burning with rage that they dare to write such personal and subjective, unpleasant, whining formal complaints that will stay in my file and come up at every appraisal and do nothing more than attack and assassinate, working along a strange and harsh line of judgement that is deeply personal and unknown to us. Utterly unconstructive, overly formal and yet totally personal, they seem to have lost the plot when it comes to dealing with me and seem only to want to give me a bad time rather than help me to help them: I thought I escaped this kind of shit when I started working here, but alas, sadly not.

God, I hate them both. And it is clearly and officially mutual.

Okay, rant over. To more pleasant things: gay penguins! A truly lovely story about our favourite aquatic birds becoming same-sex parents. Aw. The empathy-egg made go all melty inside.

And then to redeem the Dark Side, an amusing look at a young girl’s descent into the evils of Gothdom and her eventual journey back to the light. See quote above – so very fabulous. Warning: no naughty pictures but still not entirely safe work if your colleagues sit close enough to read the naughty words. (Thanks to Venusberg at his temporary home, via the ever interesting and another year older Prandial. Ta muchly)

And then this: Chavscum! Courtesy of my bro, who has as little tolerance of the Chav as I do, if not less. Seriously, we can both suffer aneurysms when we come into contact with people like this, and sometimes have moments of soiling ourselves with impotent and formless outrage. Well, he usually manages to avoid this. Innit. Wicked.

Boatie Flatmate: if you’re reading this, just… don't.

Friday, February 06, 2004

"Goldbrown upon the sated flood
The rockvine clusters lift and sway;
Vast wings above the lambent waters brood
Of sullen day.

A waste of waters ruthlessly
Sways and uplifts its weedy mane
Where brooding day stares down upon the sea
In dull disdain.

Uplift and sway, O golden vine,
Your clustered fruits to love's full flood,
Lambent and vast and ruthless as is thine

- Flood, James Joyce
A rather romantic and passionate way to describe the "in reality, quite unpleasant and mainly inconvenient" state of the office this morning. The toilets directly above where I sit have flooded and the result is now seeping onto my desk and all my paperwork. It is quite, quite horrid. And inconvenient. And doesn't smell very nice either. Bah.

However, I am feeling considerably calm and even-tempered today due to being far too temperamental and grumpy for the last month or so (it gets dull eventually, so I might give up and cheer up) and also, I had a fantastic dance class night. The regular teacher, who I've come to realise doesn't smile enough, was away and a different teacher took us for the session - and it was a really good class, much more active and challenging than I've gotten used to with the regular teacher. Interestingly, our replacement teacher had only been drafted in at short notice and was still going over notes for the class when we started arriving - and I think it was few sheets of handwritten movement notations - a very interesting set of squiggles and dashes and so on. Nice.

In other news: I really, really, really want a dog. For a day perhaps, maybe just an afternoon in the park or larking about in front of a log fire on a sheepskin rug - anything, as long as it is canine and preferably can shake my hand on command and has a super-waggy tail. Since our cat-sitting holiday in Amsterdam, I have a taste now for holiday pet romances, so any readers out there who own a cat or dog and needs someone to look after them for a short while - email me. Go on. Please. (NB. no rottweilers or Alsatians and definitely no pissed-off, angry cats with bad haircuts. Ooh, definitely not.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

"Let me not mar that perfect dream
By an auroral stain,
But so adjust my daily night
That it will come again."
Emily Dickinson, Complete Poems, 53
I’ve had a busy week with some wonderful nights out with wonderful people. While the Western world has gone through a variety of new and frightening changes - the BBC falling into little hysterical bits after the Hutton enquiry, WMDs or the lack of causing yet more trouble and a barrage of suicide bombs in the Middle East, I have been re-establishing friendships and getting out and about. It's been too depressing and bewildering to stay in and watch the news. Even with the onset of snow and the unending cold and harsh winter nights, I got out and about because it is pointless to hang around at home, toodling about doing domestic things, letting my current dismay at the state of things grow as I sit about, alone, wondering how things are going to turn out. I am particularly upset about the effect of the Hutton report on the media and how things will turn out regarding freedom of speech and also the kind of intervention we are to expect in news reporting - in these times of sophisticated spin, it's the subtlety and the guile of intervention which is ever more sinister and suppressive than any outright monitoring of the media.

So... because it has reached the time to re-establish contact with certain people and because it would simply be fun to do so, I have been to The Bush Theatre, to see a new play by called Christmas by Simon Stephens, my tall wild-haired writing tutor from The Royal Court. A good play, very simple, focusing on a handful of downcast men in an East End pub just before Christmas, each of them harbouring some deep-seated dissatisfaction with their lives. In the middle of the play, in a stunning literal and figurative central performance, comes Charlie, a cawing, nasal Northerner postman with a cello, a fantastic performance that frankly put the other performances, that were far from poor in themselves, into shadow. His edginess and extremely realistic drunkenness was intimidating, edgy and very empathetic, his strained stillness of the “if I don’t move, no one will know how pissed I am” variety rang truer than the raucousness of the other three men and the slow, subtle revelation of how he went from professional cellist to postman was a real theatrical treat: real quality acting and writing. Boatie Flatmate was impressed by it too so a good evening all round.

Two nights later, I was tramping through the snow and cursing my godawful day at work to get to The Gate Theatre, feeling dreadful and stressed and frankly pissed off with the stream of crises, disasters and last minute panic that had plagued me from sun-up to way beyond home-time. However, the jazz night I had arranged to go to was superb, featuring the fiancĂ©e of a Post-Graduate Diploma friend I hadn’t seen for over a year. Amazing stuff, very eclectic – a bit like an evening spent browsing through a friend’s record collection and getting her to sing certain numbers. It was a chilled out night, with the opportunity to catch up with old friends from the PGDiploma and hear some new songs. A really great way to chase off the fury my day at work had set off in me and a really nice way to see old friends once more. Awww.

Then on Friday, I was scuttling back to West London to see my fellow resignees from the Office of Doom. Everyone is remarkably happier, calmer, more optimistic and healthier than when we were working together for the Witch-Boss and all of us are doing well in different areas, all still bearing scars and bad habits and paranoias from That Place but moving on nonetheless. We were meeting because The Chilean has finally found a new job to move onto and is fleeing as he has always wanted to – huzzah! There are now 3 full-time members of staff remaining (and one of those is the Witch-Boss’s son…) so not long now before total disintegration, I reckon.

Oh, so much alcohol was consumed and so many happy and not-so-happy times recalled! It’s all over now but it’s good to know the friendships remain.

A busy week for me in a busy week for world affairs, though I’ve had considerably more fun than some as the days went by. How are you?