26 May, 2013


Quote her a line of Othella
And she'll think you're a hell of a fella!
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kowtow!
Yes, they'll all kowtow (Prithee)
Yes, they'll all kowtow (Quotha)
Yes, they'll all kowtow!

So we went to see Othello last night at the NT, with Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear. It was alright. First time I've ever seen Othello and what struck me was how odd it was that it counts as one of the four big tragedies, when actually the subject matter and plotting is more the matter of comedy or farce, with all Iago's machinations and the business with the handkerchief and Roderigo etc etc. With the other 3 tragedies, there is matter of great moment, the fate of kingdoms, themes of kingship, loyalty, patricide etc, with Othello, it all revolves around some bloke being fooled into thinking he's being cuckolded.

For that reason, it's really important that whoever plays Othello has such great charisma, or the production wangles it so that you really understand what a great man the general is, that the inherently comical aspects of the plot are overwhelmed by the sorrow of his fall - and I don't think Adrian Lester pulls it off. He's just not impressive enough, so you end up by thinking he's just a big idiot. Kinnear is again brilliant at making you feel that these aren't just lines for him, but that Iago is a real person and that this is really happening, making the Shakespeare as clear and comprehensible as something contemporary and realist, but overall it wasn't a life-changing production. Desdemona's death was very affecting though - it goes on so long! and she so wants to live! and the girl who played Emilia, Lyndsey Marshal, was really good - small, punchy, feisty, really gave it her all. I'd want her on my side in a firefight!

Then came home (I love seeing stuff on the South Bank, we can be home in 30 minutes) and found the girls watching Leonardo di Caprio slipping off the life raft in Titanic, the big nougat-head. Why didn't he find another piece of floating jetsam for crying out loud, the whole sea was littered with it? Stupid movie. I didn't cry once when I first watched it, which just demonstrates culpable incompetence on James Cameron's part, as absolutely anything makes me cry in the movies. I was watching League of Their Own with Laura the other day, got to the bit where some minor character gets a telegram telling her that her husband's been killed in the war, and I immediately started tearing up.

Watched last episode of Series 1 of Game of Thrones and went to bed OBSESSED with Daenerys Targaryon and her dragon hatching abilities, and with huge hots for Jorah Marmont. What a great show. So glad I'm only getting to it now, so I don't have to wait months for Series 2, the DVD of which is lying downstairs on the DVD player even now... waiting for me...

18 May, 2013

New phone

Now I can blog on the go! That's all.

17 May, 2013

Game of Thrones

It's the weekend! Spent a pleasant evening watching the last episode of my Inspector Montalbano boxset, followed by episode 4 of the the first series of Game of Thrones, in which I spend all my time mispronouncing the names of the characters whose provenances I have to keep on enquiring after with my long-suffering husband. Also ate some noodles and a slice of very stale seedcake. I'll say one thing for GoT. It's got lots of luscious young men in it. Made me feel quite frisky.


Simply counting down the days till my sabbatical. From Monday there'll be just twelve weeks to go. Yesterday was one of the low-calorie days on my 5:2 diet. Unfortunately, I was on an offsite so there was a sandwich lunch which I only partially resisted. I had one small rye roll with a smear of smoked salmon and a very so-so chocolate biscuit. The Four Seasons conference catering is most indifferent, though the people are extremely well-trained and attentive. Then I got back to the office and someone pressed a Ferrero Rocher on me, which is very hard to resist. One of the chaps at the office recklessly said that he thought he could eat 30 of these in one minute, so he's going to be tested on that assertion today. Home, and kedgeree for dinner. Very nice, especially with chilli oil, though I couldn't have as much as I'd have liked due to the low-cal restriction. Never mind, today I can eat whatever I like, and I fully intend to!

15 May, 2013

Minor panic today when I saw £750 going out on my credit card for the Oberoi Gurgaon. Had I forgotten to claim back the expense? Had no recollection whatsoever of having done so. Dashed back home. Couldn't find the receipt in my bag. Checked my account online. Could see an amount coming back in from the bank, identical but for 11p. It's got to be the expense being refunded by the bank, hasn't it? Hasn't it? Oh, God, the old brain is going.

Drinks today with the team at after what seems to have been about 5 months of non-stop work. Asked one of the chaps, "What's the most blokeish thing you do that you're secretly proud of?" He had no idea what I was talking about. They kept on coming up with blokeish things that they did that were genuinely something to be proud of. The moral of the story is that it is impossible to get your average bloke to say anything that is remotely self-deprecating. Take them off familiar ground and they're lost.

14 May, 2013


Things to worry about today:

(1) Why we haven't had S's visa back from the Canadian High Commission yet
(2) Where I'm going to find the time to mark up the AR&A before Wednesday, or at least before Monday
(3) Need to start making a list of things C needs to tell me before he decamps to Vancouver
(4) S's GCSE's

You know what, I'm not going to worry about any of them. I'm just going to read Rubicon and enjoy the fact that this is one of the days on my 5:2 diet when I can eat anything I want.

12 May, 2013

Mass Observation 12th May 2013

Oh. Woke at 6.30. I have to go in to work today to prep for the investor update on Wednesday. Was turning what I need to review around in my head. Checked Twitter and remembered, I’m doing that Mass Observation 12th May thing today! And that reminds me as well, it’s Mum’s birthday on Wednesday. She’s going to be 78. Got to get all the kids to send her Happy Birthday emails.

Right. Kids reminded. So then I remembered that I’d only gone on the laptop in the first place to check what I’m doing on the church rota today. And the answer is, Welcoming. Good, at least that doesn’t make me late after church, because I’ve got to go up and down Lavenham Road with Christian Aid envelopes after church – but luckily Sam has volunteered to help me – before I can go into Canary Wharf. Oy, stress! This doesn’t feel like a restful Sunday at all.

We were going to try to see Star Trek: Into Darkness this weekend (opening weekend), which I have been looking forward to for months, but no time now. Although we did get to see the British Museum Pompeii exhibition yesterday, which was fab. The thing that really struck me was how the gold and silver pieces, the jewellery, the silverware, and the emeralds, were all as good as new. There was the lumpy resin cast of some poor unfortunate woman and right beside her in a little case was the gold bracelet they found where her body lay, and that round of rich yellow gold, you might put on your wrist and wear today, it was fabulous. And poor her, she was nothing now. Really made me understand the value people placed on precious metals in times gone by. So I’m putting my spare cash into lovely gold and silver things from now on (not that I have any). 2000 years old and still gorgeous and unchanging! Also planning a trip to Naples. I need some sunshine!

We went on to have lunch at the old Cafe de Hong Kong afterwards and had stewed belly pork and mustard and talked about how the aroma of the barbecue pork rice brings back instant memories of Hong Kong. There was one particular occasion when Laura and Chris had lunch in some dai pai dong down in Happy Valley, which brought smiles to their faces – don’t know why especially, it was just one of those shining moments for both of them. Speaking of foods Oriental, Chris has ordered 5 giant jars of Thai chilli oil online and they are waiting for us at the Twilley Street Sorting Office. Hooray!

I’m writing this on the latest Word upgrade, by the way, which I hate. Why do they have to keep on updating the thing? You’ve just got used to the old keystrokes, then you have to accustom yourself to a whole new cumbersome way of doing things, which is generally much slower and less intuitive.

Bah! I was hoping to get down to Southside today and upgrade my phone as I have really had it with the old one. It is so limited, it keeps on crashing and hanging whenever you try to use any of the apps and it is driving me mad. Plus the iPlayer app won’t work on it. Still holding out against the evil empire of Apple though, I don’t care how good their products are! I hate closed gardens.

The other thing I have to do this weekend is get back to Lynn with my comments on the first draft of her novel. Which I actually enjoyed and she should definitely keep working at it. Just got to be careful about how I phrase my comments on what I think needs fixing. One of the useful things that I took away from some course or other that they made us do at work years ago is how when you’re critiquing something, you have to give people three parts of praise for every one part of criticism, or they just won’t take anything of what you say on board. People, eh?

The dog has sneaked into the bed between Chris and me and is smacking her lips in her sleep and dreaming of catching the mice that scuttle about under the floorboards, eluding her vigilance.

Got to get up and wash my hair. I’ve got to be at church by 10, so need to leave the house at 9.45. So don’t need to get up quite yet. Think I’ll do a speck of Librivoxing. I'm recording William Cobbett's Rural Rides for www.librivox.com. Just started it and it is really excellent, like going for a walk in the fresh green English countryside with an acerbic friend.

Laura has just come in and asked how much pasta she needs to cook if she wants to have the leftover bolognese sauce for breakfast. I tell her, a fistful. So to my bath. Something ethereal on R3 and Tom Holland's Rubicon to read, which is the last word in rivetingness and happily in accord with the Pompeii theme of this weekend. For people of the future interested in unguents, I'm using eyecream from Superdrug, Boots no 7 Restore and Repair, Nivea Q10 body lotion and taking Imedeen.

Eating Laura's leftover spaghetti bolognese and reading an Economist editorial about musicals. Laura and Chris have headed off to Dean City Farm for her riding / volunteering. Playing Words with Friends with my sister on our phones. Or should that be Words with Enemies, the little high-scoring triple-word-chance-grabbing wretch.

Went round putting Christian Aid envelopes through people's doors after church. One charmer, a white middle class guy (they're always white middle class guys) barked at me as he left his house, Don't put anything through the letter box. No please, no No thanks, we don't want it etc. Amazing how some people cast aside their manners if they think they can get away with it. Never mind. Consoled myself by un-Christianly hoping he has a really shitty life and dies alone and unloved.

So I've spent about 3 hours prepping for Wednesday, while snacking off Waitrose Adriatic anchovies, dark rye Ryvitas, pineapple, plain yoghurt, cheese and onion Kettle Chips and peppermint tea. I've also bought myself a Scholl foot file for my calluses. Glamorous, eh! Taking a break, so catching up with this. In other breaking news, Crassus has met a sticky end in the deserts of Parthia and Caesar is kicking the crap out of the Gauls in the siege of Alesia. Note to self: buy Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic Wars. Keep checking the ROH website to see if any tickets have been returned for the remainder of the Kaufmann run of Don Carlo, but no luck so far.

Starting to miss the little family now. I think maybe I'll take the AR&A and a bunch of stickies and go home and try to do some more there, in the bosom of the family. That could work. Home now. Idiot on the train insisted on sitting in the seat next to me, so I had to move my bags onto my lap, even though there were empty seats galore. Chris is making some Nigel Slater sausage and mustard recipe for dinner – smells delicious. Laura is sitting in the armchair reading Eva Ibbotson’s “The Morning Gift” while using the dog as a lap-warmer. I’m sitting in front of the fire (a fire, in May!) watching a rerun of the Big Bang Theory and having tea and homemade seedcake.

Still ploughing my way through Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter on my Kindle. Why do people rate this guy? I hate his coy mimsy faux-folksy dishonest New Yorkerish straining-for-humour but never having the courage to go for it style – hate it hate it hate it. Probably doesn’t help that I’m reading Le Rouge et Le Noir at the same time – there’s simply no comparison between Stendhal’s savage intelligence and honesty, and Ford’s etiolated late 20th century evasiveness.

We’re doing this thing where no one is allowed to bring their reading material to the dinner table. Well, we do still bring it, but we don’t read it. Instead we engage in sparkling conversation. This evening, for example, I invited the girls to watch me try out my new callus scraper. They courteously declined, in favour of watching the last Star Trek movie on DVD, also informing me that I was “revolting”. We finished the meal with a rousing 3-part rendition of the pre-interval curtain One Day More from Les Miserables. The girls are in a frenzy of excitement because the DVD arrives tomorrow. Alice is very proud of herself, because she has managed to get through 10 pages of the novel. I suggested she might try it in the original French, but she declined.

And so to bed, having caught a glimpse of The Fascinating Mr Feynman on BBC2, while I was indulging in bed time peanut butter and jam on toast, which only made me feel crashingly inadequate – Feynman, not the toast. Guess it’s too late to become a Nobel Prize-winning physicist now.

I’ve enjoyed writing this diary so much, I’m going to resurrect my blog – so thank you, Mass Observation!