Monday, 28 February 2011

Does it get any easier?

It's been a long, long week.

Have struggled to find a balance between getting ready for this work trip to the US and keeping the tears at bay.

It somehow feels vacuous to be worrying about media releases and pleasing our New York office when such tragic stories of death and loss have been filtering through. Maybe there's also a touch of survivor's guilt mixed in there - for my good fortune while so many of my countrymen and women have had their hearts ripped out. All I know is that I have never felt so gutted, empty and distracted in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I realise how lucky I am blagging this trip but, cards on the table, the only thing providing forward momentum this week is the thought of being able to hold Molly close to me.

On a more practical note, I've donated my Friday/Saturday night drinking money for the next wee while to the BNZ's fundraising appeal. It's a rubbish effort but from this far afield, it's all I can do. It probably smacks of my Catholic upbringing (you can take the girl out of the church...) but I wanted a gesture that requires a real sacrifice because these days, the only incentive for getting to the rump end of the week is gallons of red wine.

If you have the capacity, I'd urge you to donate too...


Friday, 25 February 2011

The little things

The death toll from Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude quake now sits at 113, with another 228 people listed as missing. The Police Commissioner's voice broke as he said those missing were unlikely to have survived.

But amongst all the death and desperately, desperately sad events come stories of wonder and love, of people pulling together against the most horrible of circumstances. Of the sign stuck to one person's gate saying, “We have water, please come in and help yourself”. At another house, someone had set out a phone charger on the footpath with a sign inviting people to charge their phones for free. Of the burly blokes who drove around the burbs with a truck filled with spades and wheelbarrows, offering free help to those who needed it. Of the students who moved their couch into the middle of the street and broke out the joints and beer for other shocked residents.

As someone said, in circumstances like this, it's the little things that get them through.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Always nice when a publication finally gets around to using a travel piece

Welly's DomPost leads with my Seville travel piece. Click here

Nice to finally get paid too!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

New Zealand's darkest day

A man with a posh accent has just called New Zealand an “earthquake factory”.

It's no secret the slither of land I call home sits atop one of the twitchiest fault lines in the world, but even I was surprised by the stats: between 10-15,000 earthquakes strike the country each year.

The reason I'm watching ITV news from my couch in the middle of the afternoon is that I simply couldn't focus today. I spent the morning obsessively watching video clips of the devastation and death from home and emailing friends in the Garden City. One sent me stories of his sister helping a woman out of a flooded lift, another wrote of not knowing where her husband was, while someone else reported losing their house and pets.

In the end, it was all too much for me and they sent me home. I'm trying to work, but keep reading the same sentence over and over, yet nothing much is sinking in. Once again, my heart goes out to those poor folk in Christchurch. To echo our Prime Minister, John Key, it is indeed NZ's darkest day. At least 65 dead and many more feared trapped amongst the rubble.

If I was religious, I'd start praying about now but in the absence of faith, I cleave to the TV and internet for news.

I have no other words today...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Liverpool rocks

Far too shattered to write much today. So these lovely photos from the Animator will have to suffice.

I admit I arrived in Liverpool ready to mock, but stayed to praise. Shame on those who pour scorn on settlements north of the Watford Gap. We had a cracking time and were amazed by the generosity and friendliness of those in the north.

The only downside was the weather – it seemed to have backpedalled to stage three terminal winter. Yet despite the freezing temps and grey gloom, we had a fantabulous weekend dipping our toes into the Northern pool. I only hope I can do it justice in my travel piece (when I find the time to get to it).

Another European city ticked off...

Friday, 18 February 2011


Number of cups of green tea drunk: three

Number of raindrops avoided: 8.24 billion

Number of words written: about 1000

Number of personal emails sent from work computer: 22

Number of letters posted: two

Number of chickpeas in tonight's salad: 24

Number of times I yelled at the TV: four

Number of bags packed for the weekend: two

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Things I know about Liverpool

  1. It's somewhere 'oop north'

  2. It birthed the Beatles, a couple of football teams and an accent that's woefully short on vowels

  3. It contains a dirty river that people love to sing about crossing.

I'm about to discover more this weekend when the Animator and I are hosted by Tourism Liverpool for a travel piece I'm doing for a NZ publication.

Not looking forward to battling the overcrowded motorways of this wee isle on a Friday night but excited about seeing another part of England (and of sleeping, eating and sightseeing on someone else's dime).

Sometimes it's a handy skill to be able to string a sentence or two together...

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Happy Unimaginative, Commercially Driven, Crass Forced Romantic Sentiment Day

(pic: Google)

Cynicism alert: post contains content that may be offensive to those who not only require a specially designated day to express their love to their nearest and dearest, but also delight in haemorraging hard earned cash on overpriced gifts and meals (sorry, there's a lot in that sentence. Digest it slowly).

I once had a friend who likened Valentine's Day to herpes: just when you think it's gone for good, it rears its ugly head once more. No wonder it's often referred to as VD.

Shouldn't every day be romantic? Surely that would be a tad more spontaneous and believable? Instead, February 14 plays upon our romantic insecurities and gives us false expectations. Plus, I'm pretty sure St Valentine never intended for this day to be in such close proximity to crass commercialism.

Thank God for the glorious Guardian which has provided a wonderful counterbalance to the general bollockness of the day with this summation of the Brits' approach to romance:

Ask a British person for a date, and they are more likely to hand you a dried fruit. British people do not date. They pull. This rather more violent verb conveys the more chaotic approach to romance than you might have known in your home country. The British method of coupling is as follows: go to a party, get extremely drunk, drunkenly kiss someone you have been making eyes at for some time but obviously never spoke to ­because you were sober then, go home with them, move in with them the next day, marry them the day after.

Tonight, we will snog the face of rebellion and non-conformity with a number of similarly minded Anti V Day mates when we gather to drink red wine, sing bad karaoke and eat curry. We spit in your eye, St Valentine.

PS – Gina, one of my BFFs over here, is a florist and for her and her ilk, VD is critically important. Particularly in this dismal economy. So keep buying the flowers – just make sure they're not of the tacky red rose variety which are so loathsome they should be banned.

Friday, 11 February 2011

I'm off to LA for work!!

The good luck fairy swung by today and decreed that I could go to Los Angeles for a work conference at the end of February.

And because it was Friday, and she was getting her groove on for the weekend, she also scattered her fairy dust over the three days following the conference. Which means I can fly to San Francisco to see my beloved Molly.

Today I have run out of superlatives and need to send out for more...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

For Sale: one husband

Very tempted to sell the Animator today – he has been nothing but trouble all week. Am thinking somewhere in the region of £9.99, but open to all offers.

Pluses: he will keep you in food, lodgings and laughs. His chosen career will offer relocation possibilities all over the globe. He is a dab hand at fixing stuff (IT, house renovations and vehicles a particular speciality). His default setting is easy going and he stands shoulder-deep in the sea of kindness.

Unfortunately, he displays allergic-like symptoms when it comes to cooking, cleaning and making decisions. On occasion, he likes a good argument and can sulk when he doesn't get his way. Also has an annoying habit of talking over the news and leaving lights on whenever he exits a room.

Overall, though, he's a pretty good buy and there should be a few more years left in him.

Offers by midnight tonight. Or I'll have to consider keeping him...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

If I had half as much chutzpah as this old lady...

You can imagine it, can't you: you're sitting around, planning to rip off the jewellers on the High Street.

Got balaclava? Check. Getaway Vespas? Check. Baseball bats and a large bag in which to spirit away the booty? Check and check.

Imagine your heist will be foiled by a sprightly 70-year-old and her handbag? Maybe not...

I almost spat out my dinner tonight while watching the news. How BLUDDY AMAZING is this plucky old bird who did what no-one else dared to do this morning in Northampton?

I hope the woman widely referred to as A Total Waste of Space, Time and Taxpayer's Funds (aka HRH The Queen) invites super granny to tea. Her jaunty red coat will go down a treat at Buck Palace.

Click here to watch super granny go:

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Like doing backstroke in molasses

Not a good day. Currently nursing my red wine remorse and wishing I had been sensible and gone home early from a colleague's leaving drinks.

Instead, I have vague memories of bothering my tastebuds with far too many units of alcohol. And either karaoke featured somewhere during the evening or I have been shouting too much, because my voice sounds like Rod Stewart after a spot of razor blade gargling.

Today I'm all about getting familiar with the couch, tea pot and bad TV. I don't plan on getting dressed but might drag myself to Sainsbury's later in my PJs - just to see how they'll react.

(pics from last night at least confirm smile muscles were frequently engaged)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Rastamouse in da house

I'm hardly the demographic, but this new BBC series makes me laugh till my eyes leak...

Rastamouse and his mates Scratchy and Zoomer are the Easy Crew, a crime-fighting, mystery-solving team who play reggae in their spare time. Redemption, not retribution, is their motto as the crew set about helping baddies rebuild their lives and 'making a bad ting good'.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A cold Tuesday in Cardiff

Every so often, the invisible wee bloke who lives on my shoulder leans forward and whispers a single word in my ear: “Why?”

Today, he was practically apoplectic.

That's because instead of spending the day stapled to the office heater, as is my usual fashion, a colleague and I schleped over to Wales to give our Cardiff outpost a presentation on our new strategic PR approach.

Which wasn't all bad, and the sales boys expressed the right level of interest and asked relevant questions (most of which had to be translated for me, such is the treacle-thickness of their accents). And, of course, it was nice to look at four different walls but holy crap, it was cold across the Severn. The kind of bone-aching, windpipe-crushing cold that takes stupid amounts of hot tea and toasted panini to overcome.

Am currently trying to formulate a business plan to get to some of our offices in warm places such as Kuala Lumpur and Sydney. Probably about as much chance of that as there is of convincing the Egyptian government to play nice, but God loves a trier, eh?


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