Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Friday, June 29, 2007

Jobbie again

Where are we at today? We're good we think, waiting for the kiddos to come home from Friday afternoons at Granny's. At the end of the week I've clocked up 36 hrs on the part-time jobbie (180%). And those are all working hours, at all times of the day and night, and we don't take lunchbreaks. This is the private sector.

I had started work late today due to an early GP appt, registered in advance in the diary and not included in my working hours. Also had the temerity to ask for Monday off on accrued time-in-lieu to sort out my dole problems in person. This results in urgent calls and txts from the boss to ask where I am this morning! It will have to be explained soon that flexibility on working hours has to go two ways. For instance, we get nothing extra for unsocial overnight hours, and can be asked to work unexpectedly with just a few hours notice. I'm a reliable and involved worker, but not a mug. And despite my poor experiences of the AUT, I will be joining Amicus trade union soon.

Currently the bosses are asking for us to work weekends too on a particular slug experiment. There have been nebulous promises of a bonus for such extreme flexibility, but nothing in writing. I may be new and still on probation, but some issues need addressing on a reasonable and adult basis, and in writing. The experiment won't be do-able without my co-operation and input, and if they can call me in for an overnight at 2 hrs notice, I can cancel non-urgent and supra-contractual working hours with the same notice!

We have a new Pry Minster today. I should be writing about this and his prospects, but am more concerned and involved with the Big Wan's school trip to Stratford this week and the wee wan's stunning report card. That and the small sebaceous cyst on my chin, which I took to the GP this morning. This can't be treated on the NHS because the problem is 'cosmetic' and not life-threatening, even though I don't like it. I was invited to collaborate in a referral to a private dermatologist, which I refused given my salary. Told the GP I'd just have a go at it myself with a scalpel, and I'm serious about that.

Just for fun, a friend's slugwatch picture. What a specimen!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Jobbie etc.

Running total as of today this week is 24.5 hrs for the part-time 20 hr/week jobbie. Another 8 hrs planned this week. so I'm well ahead for time-in-lieu owed, including the 17 hrs already in the TIL basket.

The mortgagers have been screwing me around and fecking up my credit rating. For the last 2 months I've been in to make personal payments on my mortgage due date. Each time they've erroneously informed me that the dole made a partial payment, when this was not the actuality. Now I've been referred to the mortgage collection service (i.e. credit rating bad guys) through no fault of my own. I'd intended to go in and exercise consumer anger today, but am too tired after an all-day/all-nighter shift. I shall muster my righteous indignation for tomorrow. I also have extremely detailed complicated forms to fill in to retrospectively to claim council tax relief, child tax credits and mortgage interest relief. If I as a PhD can't manage these, God help others. I have to report new changes in circumstance in 4 days, when I still haven't cleared up the last 3 months part time claims.

Anyway, it's a lovely day today. At dawn I'm standing on the back step at work with a mug of tea and a roll-up, watching and listening to the dawn chorus and bird movements. The starlings flock together and give a splendid fractal show of collective movement. The wood pigeons are solitary and have a peculiarly obese and laboured flight pattern, supplying owl-like whoo-whoo calls all the time. The pied wagtails swoop and flit aerobatically to catch insect prey on their morning sojourn. The natural world goes on regardless of puny human moods and influences.

On the way home from the all-nighters I snag another box of mangoes and 2 litres of milk from my favourite Smiley brother, for smoothies. H-etc. has granted me 3 hrs per week vital cleaning for the summer. That means she will be rifling through and organising my drawers, filing my properly folded underwear, dusting the artwork, assembling the loose cigarette papers in the Big Wan's woodwork desk-tidy, stashing the hash lumps in a discrete drawer and hoovering up the carpet beetles. Life doesn't get much better than this! I am blessed.


Friday, June 22, 2007


The part-time jobbie (20 hrs) took up 33 hrs this week. For those that can manage simultaneous equations, that means I gave 165% this week quantitatively, much of it winging it and in at the deep end. The stress caused a laugh riot behind the scenes with my colleagues, who became co-conspirators in our public unflappability. What a great game, which is converting me to temporary false consciousness anyday!

Tomorrow morning, I don't know was whether Big Wan or I are in deeper trouble with his Dad. Big Wan went to a party and became tipsy even before last bus @ 22.45. He's only nearly 15, but didn't puke.

Luckily Big Wan was only 4 blocks from my flat when he exceeded his puny levels of liver enzymes, and was guided home in a merry, vocal and euphoric state by a sensible friend. I phoned his Dad (an additional 3 miles away) to let him know BW was home with me and safe for the night. I can't remember being so verbally pummeled since Family Mediation, which as far as I'm concerned would be better renamed Family Flagellation.



Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Chinese veg shop stocked up on more of those luscious honey mangoes, and in addition to her £8/hr I bought a box to thank H-etc. for her recent attention to my cleaning problem. She phoned that night to give me a stern telling off for neglect of duty, but it was worth it to come home to a clean house. I'd made a real effort to improve things in advance of her visit- did the washing-up, cleaned the cooker, bathroom and toilet- so who knows what her comments would've been had these not been done. I'm hoping that she'll see me as such a needy case that she might fit me in again as a regular client, for I am truly useless.

The toilet seat broke this week, so I bought a replacement and removed the old one on Sunday in anticipation of fitting the new before the wee wan and I went out to walk the Bad Dog, Jake, at the Braidburn. The Big Wan came home from indoor rock climbing in our absence in need of a number two, and was forced to leg it over the road to the pub for his call of nature. He was less than pleased! Since he's only 14, I'm surprised he got away with it. Girls learn to hover at an early age, but males seem to never gain the skills. Later we had a laugh riot collaborating on replacing the seat, involving scatological joking in funny voices. You had to be there...

On a recent teacher consultation, an emerging problem with Big Wan's Maths success was identified. He scored quite badly in recent tests on circle geometry, factorisation, compound computation and simultaneous equations. This is a matter for concern since his interest and talents in science might be hindered. It's probably hereditary since both his dad and I only gained proficiency and competence by self-teaching later. Luckily, I should be able to help as I found myself solving simultaneous equations while calculating my alcohol ingestion in units recently. If 0.75x (litres)= 9y (units), then 1.0x=12y.

Jake is a very bad dog indeed, with a compulsive food scavenging problem. On our Sunday walk he was behaving splendidly until we came across a group of picnicers on our way back. Their dog 'Rocky' appeared to be a bull terrier/collie cross, and was wearing a sleeveless vest as a fashion statement. It's not that I should judge, but every adult in the party was overweight, pasty and heavily tattooed. The kids weren't tattoed but were already pierced. So anyway, Jake and Rocky got acquainted and Rocky had a good go at mounting Jake, as dogs will. I made some offhand joke about Jake being bisexual, and implied that Rocky might be too, which was greeted with horror by the group. A definite faux-pas on my part. We tried to get Jake back on the lead to move on, which he resisted, but eventually succeeded. 100 yards further on the path, we thought we were past danger and could let him off the lead, when he thanked us with a tailwag and perky ears, then promptly turned around and ran at full speed back to the picnicers to beg for food. They were less than pleased, and I was ashamed at having such a willfull dog. But, as they advertised Jake at the dog rescue centre, he is 'all dog'. You have to admire his spark.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

New Regime

It's likely that there will be fewer of my ramblings here over the next wee while. I am due to move to fulltime slugwatching in a couple of weeks and this will limit my free time and necessitate a change in my alcohol intake. Of course you'd never guess (since my spelling is preserved under the influence), but very often these communiques arise after quite some imbibement. Like Hotboy I intend to go practically teetotal, except more so.

Specifically, this means no alcohol in the house during the week. A social drink during the week as normal people can manage might be allowed, but only at most 2 small glasses of wine and only in company. Those are the rules. There will be no weekday hangovers and no damn sleeping in! I am a professional! There can be no alcohol in the house because my automatic impulse on arriving home is to open that bottle and have just one glass, which is never enough. Anyone who catches me intoxicated during the week is at liberty to remove my glass and my specs and punch my lights out. Weekends are another matter, as long as I'm not working the next day, as I sometimes must.

The Boss

There will have to be displacement activity. In order of likelihood:
a) Decorating the flat
b) Cooking elaborate meals
c) Evening constitutional walks
d) Saving up for and planning the new kitchen and bathroom
e) Training Her Catness to do tricks
f) Learning to enjoy cleaning
g) Becoming born-again in The Lord

Further suggestions welcome.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New member

I've added another blog to the 'odds and sods' section- that of Michael G., who has bothered to comment here, has good values and content, and thus is part of the small and relatively exclusive community I accept and promote. I've never been interested in quantity but rather quality here at ionetics, and I don't check site statistics regularly since it's immaterial. However, one correspondent has arranged for their visits to have a rather rude referral reference. Isn't the internet amazingly useful and plastic?

I have a task for any other members of my small and restricted communicants. Can you name or identify this flower?


Sunday, June 10, 2007


It's a good day when you celebrate life and don't dwell on death, even though that slow train's definitely a-coming.

The flamenco night of Jaleo Flamenco at Queens Hall with R., H-etc. and Alex was splendid except for the audience. R., who dances herself, was sitting half up in her chair to see the footwork of the artistes and received negative feedback on her behaviour from some typical po-faced Edinburghers behind. Then when she was whispering the step patterns to H.-etc she got more negative feedback from the row in front. The young Spaniards in the audience were more up for it and even shouted 'Ole!' at the end of particularly expressive solos, getting carried away as we were.

I think the proper Edinburghers would be better buying a DVD or CD to watch/listen at home in silence than attending a live, vital performance. Flamenco is passionate, rhythmic, expressive and most of all a folk art, so get with it, puritans. At half time (maybe called the intromission) the smokers spill outside and there's a surfeit of young gorgeous, corruptible Spanish gentleman of an age that they don't yet know they're gorgeous, and may not be soon after.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Displacement activity

This morning I went into work to handle some intellectual-type tasks, including assembling reference lists and editing manuscripts. I used to do this all the time, but mostly from home. Can I concentrate on such tasks at work? No! I need a fag burning in the ashtray and some strong coffee alongside, sipping at both while I follow a train of thought. At work I go downstairs and outside to the weed garden for smoke breaks, which take up at least as much time as sitting at the desk if I'm thinking.

The self-seeded weed garden is doing splendidly, at least until the gardeners are called in to wipe it out again. There we have lots of California poppies, bindweed (convolvulus), some sort of solenaceae (possibly nightshade) and four foxglove spikes whose growth I been following closely. I thought they were toadflax (a relative) at first, but now they're blooming I know better. Both bumble and honeybees have been enjoying the poppies and it's very easy to get lost watching them buzz around filling their saddlebags with yellow pollen. There's a loose stone slab out on the patio which I have to lift regularly to monitor invertebrates too, and this morning after rain there was a particularly active little purple annelid and the usual slaters (woodlice) to watch doing their invertebrate thing.

So this morning I took in a Pakistani honey mango for my co-worker from the box bought yesterday, farted around, smoked in the garden and lanced a couple of burn blisters that were giving me gyp before giving up and coming home to smoke, type and produce the product. It's work, Jim, but not as we know it!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


A beautiful service for Jane in Basil Spence's main chapel of Mortonhall Crematorium. On entry, it's severe to the point of austerity with simple wooden pews and just a skylight above the lectern to admit some trace of the eternal. But when you exit there's before you the soaring aspirational sunbeams of a stained glass sunrise. The hospital chaplain did a good job, left God out (probably at family request) and didn't try to smooth over the injustice of her untimely death. Jane's elder daughter, the spit of her mother, is wise beyond her years and even in a time of grief expressed that Jane will live on through her and her sister's achievements- a legacy. These were references to the line that's passed down, with mention also of Jane's feminist poet mother who handed Jane several torches, including a a healthy disrespect for authority and a compassionate siding with the underdog. Jane's husband spoke simply and movingly of his love and devotion, every word true and pure, before he broke down. They had a funeral tea at the Sanctuary (interfaith chapel) at the hospital where we worked. You could tell from the emotion in the congregants that this was the funeral of a young person who had touched many people with her simple, unrelenting goodness, humour and kindness. People always talk about such qualities when folk die but in Jane's case it was genuine and consistent, and I shall miss her.


Sunday, June 03, 2007


I could've gone earlier to Smiley's and asked a favour, but don't like to put them in an awkward position when they are so nice. So I've been watching the clock tick while awaiting the magical time of 12.30 pm when it is legal to buy booze on a Sunday. I can do anything I like on my weekend! I am earning! Not much, admittedly, but more than enough. I can visit the bookshop to buy the wee wan Ursula Le Guin and the Big Wan a maths revision book without sucking my teeth, book us a summer week away at the organic farm without borrowing and order myself a posh eyeliner without feeling guilt.

D., the eyeliner queen, introduced me to MAC khol pencil and now I need and deserve such. Since the slap only goes on maybe thrice a year, the morticians can probably use the same pencil when they're boxing me up for disposal. Unfortunately, MAC cannot spell and instead of selling me khol (from the Greek for bile) instead I have had to order kohl (cabbage in German). If I end up with a bag of fermented kimchi, it will be my own fault.

Seldom-used make-up is great. Once you've weaned yourself off the habit, both you and others get used to how you really look and it's no longer a shock or a shame to be nude, face-wise. Then when you do wear slap, everyone including you thinks you're gorgeous, just for the night. Believe me, it doesn't look so good in the morning when there's mascara all down your cheeks.

I have two vicarious gardens this spring, which are bringing me much pleasure. One is in Essex, where I helped instigate the digging over and sowing of some cos lettuce, which is now doing very well to judge by photos. The other is that of H-etc locally, whose fruits I frequently eat. At the moment there's a tabbouleh salad in the fridge made with H-etc's flat-leaf parsley. I'm also told that tadpoles collected from the Braidburn have made it into froglets in H-etc's pond, but I have mixed feelings about these. There's a suspicion that through genetic/environmental memory these froglets will be desperate to migrate back to their ancestral pond next year to mate, and will not be able to survive the 2 mile journey on their own nor effectively establish a new colony at H-etc's garden. Let's hope I'm wrong, or else at some point in the future H-etc and I will be trying to trap frogs later this year to transplant back to the Braidburn.

The Big and wee wans have been asking me about berry picking this summer. I hear it's bumper year for strawbs and not enough Polish pickers to supply demand. I have a big stock of jars saved up so am hoping that if the kiddos and I do a big fruit-pick that H-etc can help us put these away for a winter's worth of jam.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Report cards

Global climate change doesn't half throw up strange phenomena. On the way back from workfulness yesterday, the black clouds spewed lightning and thunder, stair-rod rain then hailstones the size of small icecubes. A #23 gave up the ghost under the torrent at Queen St, and chucked off a rush-hour load of passengers into a tropical rain. The streets off the Royal Mile became rushing streams and there was a 3 inch deep flood at the Meadows. This is maybe why the grannies tell us, 'Ne'er cast a cloot till May is oot'. Workwear this week has featured a fetching olive green kagoul, though I have not yet inflicted on my colleagues the frog-green wellies. I'll wait till my probation is passed before I bring those out.

The Big Wan got his S3 report card today, except it's not a card anymore as in my day from Mr Hollywood, but a print out. The same comments we've seen on report cards since P1- of high ability and a dreamy aspect in class; the same traits we see and appreciate at home. The only subject in which he's non-credit is maths, and there's some plans to try to turn this around. They have trigonometry at Standard grade these days, when that only appeared at Higher in my antediluvian day.

We had dinner tonight at my folks', including their usual rocket fuel coffee from a huge Italian mocha pot. Joe, who doesn't drink coffee at home, had a half cup of their potent brew and started speeding. Back at home we had a lovely chat about the S3 report, his plans and aspirations. He wants to turn the maths around, realising that he'll need this for more advanced science subjects, and I shall put in time and revision books to this end. He maybe wants to be a doctor or a writer, but mostly he wants a family. That's a wonderful but worryingly mature statement from a 14 yr old. He's always been kind to and interested in kids smaller than he, and has been a fabulous big brother to the wee wan. Later that night, I found both the kiddos in my room, the Big Wan telling the wee wan a science fiction story he'd been making up for 45 minutes before I sent them late to bed.