Saturday, March 31, 2007

Our House?

I fully intended to blog all about Bath and what a lovely time we had there, but events have overtaken me. (I shall try to do it next week instead).

When we got back on Wednesday I had a phone call from my landlady to tell me that she would be selling this house. She offered me first refusal on buying it and then said she'd pop round Friday night so we could sort everything out. Well she didn't pop round, but that's not really a problem, just means I have to sort out with my useless letting agents (of which more later) exactly when I can give notice.

We had a scoot through the local paper and found a couple of houses in this same area that are up for rent, one of them is even cheaper than this one (cos the road is dodgier I think) which is saying something as the rents have changed in the three years I've been here. Also, the house opposite is up for rent again, and that would be a nice easy move! I like this area, yes it's a bit dodgy in places, but other areas at the same kind of prices are all out of town and would be a 40 min walk or a bus ride. This area I know (cos the house I lived in before was only down the road) and it's a nice easy walk to work.

The only bugger was waiting for the landlady to come round meant I didn't do anything about finding out how much the one over the road is. There have been several groups move in and out of that house in the time I've been here, mainly Polish folk, so the landlord there might not want someone "long-term" like me.

The main thing that's making us both really ratty, is that when the landlady offered it to me, the first thing I did was refuse. Now thinking about it, we could afford this but... I've known Anthony less than a year do I want to buy a house with him? Buying somewhere now hadn't entered our thoughts before her call (although we looked in lots of estate agents windows in Bath - doesn't everybody?) so why should one phone call change that.
I think it was that when he mentioned it to his mum, she said why don't you buy it. It's made us both get all paranoid and think, well why not. But we know all the sensible reasons for why not, not least the fact that technically I'm still married to someone else and if anything happened to me the Yeti probably wouldn't miss a trick if there was a house involved. (My nice little self-written will should be fine for all other things, but I bet he'd go to court if there was any prospect of real money).

I just hate the not quite knowing. I didn't want to stay here forever, I want to own a house, and live there with Anthony, and get married again and have babies and cats and dogs and happiness - but that's all an ahead dream, not a buying a place right now dream. The fact that we've both admitted to this should make it easier, but as it is the not-knowing about when I have to move is making us ratty and snappy and worried. Gah!


The other, ongoing, problem is with my letting agents over my rent...

- 5th March, rent goes out of my bank account.

- 9th March, rent came back...confusing me.

- 9th March, phoned letting agents to discover cause of rent coming back. Informed that accounts have changed and should have had a letter, girl on phone informs me it would have been sent a couple of weeks before and addressed to a Mr Polly. I say that a) it's Polley, b) he hasn't been a tenant here for a year so it should have been addressed to me, and c) that I had no letter anyway. She then gives me a bank account no and sort code over the phone and tells me to use the reference HILLM. I ask why this reference, she says "it's your name". I point out that it isn't and tell her my normal ref is 37BURLEIGH. She says to use the new one. I say I'd like it all confirmed in writing.

- 12/13/14th March - no letter yet.

- 14th March, go in to see agents and ask for letter with details to be posted. Explain yet again that Mr Polly is no longer a tenant.

- 21st March, as no letter yet received go in and see agents. Get great satisfaction from walking in and announcing that I have a complaint. Everyone in office stops to help! Get official bit of paper with bank details on. (Acc number different from one given during phone call). Asked to sign this. Query why I am on there as Mr, and why ref is POLLYA. Told ref is POLLYA as he was original tenant and the one references were taken for. Explain we were joint tenants and refs were taken for me as well, also that Polly is spelt Polley. Man says is a Head Office thing, correct Mr to Ms and sign paperwork.

- 21st March, set up new standing order and do bank transfer of rent from March 5th.

- 22nd March, money comes out of account. Sorted!?

- 29th March, morning, receive letter from agents informing me that I have not paid my rent, their ref 37BURLEIGH. Phone agents. Get original girl on the phone and explain, she says I'll have to speak to the manager, Michelle, who is out but will ring me as soon as she gets back.

- 29th March, as no call received, phone agents again. Get same girl who is now rude as I have phoned back without waiting for Michelle to phone me. Say I phoned at 10 and it's now 4. Rude girl says Michelle is with someone, but has had my message and will ring me straight back.

- 29th March, no phonecalls.

- 30th March, ring agents twice, busy both times. No calls from Michelle.

- 2nd April, go down to letting agents with pieces of paperwork showing three different references and two different account numbers. Get very very very angry.

*breathe out*

Needless to say I won't be renting my new house though Martin & Co as they are a waste of DNA...

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I am on holiday for two and a half weeks now...I go back to work on the 12th of April! The half week is due to Easter Monday and then my day off being the Wed, and having an odd day of holiday to use so taking that Tuesday.

The last time I had two weeks together off work was back in 2003 when I broke my arm, and then before that was Sept/Oct 2002 between moving up here and getting my current job.

It's very odd. Even with a week off there's a certain amount of "must do this today" but I have no feeling of that at all. Yes I only get one week of that with Anthony (since I get a weeks more holiday than him and our holiday years fall differently too) so we have to move all the bookcases this week so I can rearrange to my hearts content next week. Other than that...nothing HAS to be done on any day.

We're actually getting to go away too. My mother is spending this week in Bath where she's rented a flat. She made sure when she rented it that it would be able to fit two errant daughters and one of their blokes. Although Emily possibly isn't coming now, it means we get what is essentially a free holiday.

Yes we'll be taking her out for a slap up meal etc, but we've had assurances that she'd have rented that flat just for herself anyway (especially comforting when Anthony's car went bang on Thursday and we didn't think we'd be going at all.)

So I have a guidebook to all the places there are to go and a man who is happy to go to most of them (although he's not too keen on the Museum of East Asian Art). The only slight downside is that this will be the longest I've been away from t'internet for a while. I shall have to get used to getting my news from papers and the radio, and my entertainment from other things.

That really does make me sound like a sad junkie, I'm not. I'm just used to being able to pull up things as and when (like info on the Poll Tax after we had another political discussion in bed this morning - is it just us who only have discussions on religion and politics in bed?) and not having to wait for info.

So now for a few days of culture and shopping...well certainly shopping anyway!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gadget Lust

I really shouldn't read the IWOOT catalogue when they send it to me...

There's this Lifetimer, and this Adopt a Vine, and this Binary Clock and there's definately, definately this Moon In My Room!

"The Past Is The Future, With Lights On"

(title pinched from Emily's current MSN Messenger note, dunno where she got it from)

I joined Facebook the other day. Mainly cos certain people kept raving about it, and partly cos I was bored. It's alright. Highly addictive at present as many new and exciting things are to me.

I've got all the usual suspects from work as friends on there and thought I'd do a bit of browsing around to see who else I could spot. I found my uncle and aunt which surprised me, and a few old friends from school but not as many as I thought I would.

One in particular that I found is a girl I met when she started at my school in the 6th form. I remember her mainly because she did what she wanted. She wore what she liked, listened to the music she wanted to and basically didn't take any shit from anyone.

For little me, just starting to emerge from the cocoon I'd stuck myself in to hide from the bullies - she was amazing. I can remember envying her confidence and abilities, but never ever disliking her. She was just who she was, no pretence in order to please anyone, just herself. She helped me grow a lot that first year and most of my memories of that year have her firmly in the heart of things.

Going into London to meet her and go to Covent Garden - not a big thing for that London-bred lass, but quite a big adventure for me compared to the life I'd been leading.
Her coming to the station to see us all off on our Biology field trip and singing The Beatles in the common room while the "in-crowd" argued over what was cool enough to play in there.
The reaction of one of the "in-crowd" girls when she turned up for the 6th form photo wearing a stunning vintage green dress. Apparently she was going to ruin the picture and stick out like a sore thumb - the first thing you see when you look at it is the in-girl's Union Jack top and her fake bleached smile. The vintage dress however, looks beautiful.
Walking round and round Witham in the middle of the night with me the week after Jamie died. She knew exactly what to say to comfort me, but wouldn't bullshit me that everything would soon be ok, she knew it would be tough but told me I'd get through it.

We drifted apart a long way during the second year of 6th form. We no longer had Chemistry lessons together, although that wouldn't have mattered as Chemistry was the main lesson I'd miss - I'd be hiding away in the computer room, swigging my Fanta laced vodka. When I did start coming back to myself, 6 or 7 months later, she was one of the first to pull me back into the crowd, to treat my life as normal again.

Seeing her face on there made me think about how many things I'm proud to admit that I enjoy now that she has influenced me on, even though it's 10 years since we've even spoken I think.

My life is going in cycles, this is one reason for the labyrinth tattoo. My life loops around and back on itself and things from the past come round again in the future. Last year was a time of growth for me in many ways, as 1996 was the lovely summer when I felt like I had the world at my feet.

I'm grateful for my friends, they teach me so much even when I am far from them in space and time. Whether this Facebook thing means I rekindle old friendships or not, it's good to know that these people are still there, doing their things and lighting up other peoples lives.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More books

I went to the library again today. Since Anthony needed food for lunch (and I wanted lemonade) I made the executive decision that we would go to Sainsbury's via the library and then I wouldn't have to carry a(nother) heavy bag of books into work with me.

I didn't manage to read all the books I got last time. I passed completely on Thunderball and Sense and Sensibility. This was partly due to the fact that I loved the Kim Harrison book The Good, The Bad and The Undead so much that I bought all five books in the series from work and have been working my way through those.
Luckily it was the last library book I read as then The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Full Dark House were granted my full attention and I very much enjoyed them both. This does mean that I now want to get my mitts on the rest of Christopher Fowler's books - *sigh* The library was supposed to be SAVING me money!

Anyways, this time I got this mixed selection.

Watch Your Mouth - Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket).
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets - Eva Rice (as recommended by Mark).
The Cryptographer - Tobias Hill (which some mad woman was hassling Campbelli about the other day).
The Puppet Masters / Waldo / Magic,Inc - Robert A. Heinlein (3 in 1)
Red Planet - Robert A. Heinlein (I used to love reading his stuff, so thought I'd try it again).
Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl (which was the first book I saw, practically snatched it out of someone elses hand).

I also came away with two books by Duncan Harding, Sink HMS Kelly and Sink HMS Cossack. Anthony picked these up to take on holiday as he's having a break from Pratchett.

I've also got provisions for while I'm reading, lovely lovely cloudy lemonade and squidgy chocolate brownies!


Anthony took some sensible pictures of my new tattoo the other day.

Here you can see the relative size of the thing.

(I know, I'd been scratching round it...)

Then he took this rather funky angled shot that shows him, me, and both of my tattoos (even if my hummingbird just shows as a small black blob!)

I have a day off tomorrow so I shall attempt deep thoughts and post something...or I may just play lots of Zelda.

(I'm annoyed that my hair still looks so red. It's very blonde until people take pictures of it! Roll on the summer and pictures taken in natural light!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Monkey brains

Yesterday I went upstairs to cover Maggies break and took over seeing the rep from Elsevier. I'm flicking through the catalogue of books that mostly don't apply to our store and I said to him that most of these books seem like the one on monkey brains that another rep showed me the other week. I was a bit embarrassed when the other rep turned out to be him as well.

This then led to a conversation about time speeding up recently, since it had been a month since he'd been in and it had only seemed like the week before that I'd seen him. He was saying that he'd just had his birthday and that he couldn't believe how old he was when he didn't feel it, and how stuck he felt when he thought of all the things he could be doing.

We had a chinwag about this for a few minutes before he went, but it really got me thinking.

When I was little, 28 was old. I know that about 9 years old I thought that when I was 27 I'd be married and have kids, that was an aim right up until this time last year in fact. Not a big aim, but the kind of childhood aim that stays in your subconscious and hangs about there, occasionally making itself known. Last year I really felt I'd failed this aim that I'd had for such a long time, and it took a bit of work to acknowledge that although it was a valid aim, it just didn't apply anymore.

I think part of the problem is that the media feeds such a constant image of not good enough. Celebrity magazines say that you're not thin enough, or your life is not worthwhile if you don't have these sunglasses, that dress, those shoes. Lifestyle magazines try to sell you the perfect home, the perfect cleaning product to clean your perfect new gadget with. Advertising is designed to sell you a product by selling you the image (and I'm the advertisers dream according to my dad) but the whole of the media seems to be going this way. Even book prizes do it, the idea that you HAVE to read the Booker/Orange/Costa winner or not be a serious reader.

TV programmes show you the dream of quitting the rat race and going to grow vegetables, but they gloss over the hard work and focus on the "goodness" of eating your own produce. Relocation, Relocation did a programme when a mother and daughter followed their dream of going to run a pub in the country (which our new manager was raving about it being a fabulous idea), but it never mentions the fact that someone has to be up early for deliveries, someone up late to close up and you never get a day off. (My parents have friends who own a pub, and all this was mentioned when once I said I'd like to do it)

It's no wonder that we sell so many Pop Psych books, the world just seems to be set up at the moment to tell you that you're not good enough. Your job isn't paying enough, you should love your job, you should be going to these places on holiday, you should be recycling more, eating better, reading these books.

For a long time I thought it was just me, doing my whole paranoia thing and feeling generally insecure. But having a chat with a guy who said that he harbours dreams of living like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall but knows he wouldn't like the hard work bit has helped me realise that it's something affecting other people than just me.

I don't know if I'll ever manage to be free of it, but knowing this is helping me look at it that much clearer.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Photographing your own back is difficult

First Try

Fifteenth Try

Sharpened up in Photoshop

Yes you can see I've been scratching, bad Kate!

I'll get Anthony to take a better one tomorrow.
Then you'll actually be able to see what it looks like properly!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bloody family

My horoscope this morning made me grin.

"Worries about a relative who lives far away might be plaguing you today, KATE, and the situation isn't helped by the fact that you may not be able to reach them by phone or e-mail. You may have to go around them and contact mutual friends who might be able to give you the information you need. Circumstances probably aren't all that dire, and there's probably nothing to be overly concerned about, but you need to hear this. Keep trying!"

They're all fine, I thought to myself. Spoke to the parents at the weekend and IM'd with Emily the other day.

Then tonight I got a phonecall to inform me that a member of my family had fallen down the stairs when pissed, no bones broken but some nasty cuts from the glass they'd been holding at the time.

It wasn't my student sister, it was my old enough to know better father.

He downplayed it all when he called me, it was mum who said that when she saw him at the bottom of the stairs she thought he'd broken his neck.

But he's fine, got all checked out and patched up by some lovely Essex paramedics and technicians. Mum was saying that if he hadn't been pissed he wouldn't have tripped, but if he hadn't been he'd definately have broken something.

Honestly, you get to the age where they've just stopped worrying about you, and then you have to worry about them!

So I'm distracting myself from the desire to go straight home and hug him by playing some WoW.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Inspired... wash-up by Keris, I looked up at the two pictures stuck to the window frame above the sink and thought I'd try and find them to share with you.

So I Googled one of them and instead of what I expected, I found this...

Contemplating Washing-up

This is the one I was looking for

So I search for a picture for Keris...and find a picture from Mark instead.

We really are all interconnected in strange ways.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Grumpy Cats

Esme and Foley are not very happy with us at the moment.

This is because we took them to get spayed yesterday... Foley was unimpressed with car riding and yodelled all the way there, then went very very quiet.

Everything went ok at the vets, then yesterday afternoon it was a question of keeping an eye on them while the drugs wore off.

Foley made a break for freedom as soon as the carrycase was opened when we got back. She made it a whole three steps before realising that her back legs were still numb and falling over. That was how the afternoon was spent, watching them stagger from one sleeping spot to the next and then conking out.

Today they are better, Esme is almost back to normal, but Foley squeaks if you touch her back anywhere. They're curled up on the spare bed in the sunshine and look very cute apart from the bald bits.

Poor pussy cats, they'll appreciate it when they realise that this means I can let them outside a lot more.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Happy Valentines!

This is what I got for Valentine's Day...

Labyrinth Tattoo

It's nestled just between my shoulder-blades and currently aches.

I think the aching is also possibly due to the fact that Anthony bought a Wii yesterday too. All that nunchuk waving as I try to spank Rabbids and bowl strikes has made my arms ache. It's exercise though!

That's one of the contributing factors behind its purchase, the fact that Campbelli has one and has stopped going to the gym because she's getting lots of exercise from it. Also the comments that one of his co-workers made about "sitting back and watching her bounce up and down" (ahem) - I can't even work out how to explain that so it doesn't sound smutty so I won't.

Anyways, it's stonkingly good fun, although the cats are a little confused by it.

You'll get a photo of the actual tattoo when it's no longer covered in clingfilm and antiseptic cream - in about two days.