At work while not at work

There was no work for me this week as Nick at Work is at Blythe sorting something out. Sadly. It also means I’ve yet to experience the train mayhem into Waterloo…not so sadly.

So, rather than go to work, I went to the gym then went shopping. It made for a very exciting change.

Returning home, I took up my seat in the office and spent most of the day working on a report for Mirinda based on the spreadsheet I’ve been working on for what seems like months. After the report (which Mirinda thought would take about an hour but was closer to ten) I was given the onerous task of turning more documents into PDF files.

Unfortunately, the weather was fantastic. I know because I could see it out of my office window.

Then a decision was made…sort of.

Ages ago we decided to have a holiday in September, after all this work pressure was over and as a rest. We were going to Provence but, on trying to book a self catering property were informed it wasn’t available for the time period we wanted it.

Rather than look elsewhere, Mirinda then hit on the idea of a return to Andalucia. We could go to Seville then travel to Cadiz and Jerez by bus and explore some more. Then we ran into problems with the dates. While Sue could take the dogs for the first bit, the kennels couldn’t take them for the rest of the time. We then had to reorganise the dates.

Then Mirinda realised how hot it would be in Spain at the time of year (and this year there’s an unprecedented heatwave seeing tourists staying indoors and drinking gallons of water, causing droughts in Italy) and flipped back to France.

Then, tonight after discovering that Sue’s friend could take the girls, we changed the dates back and Mirinda suddenly announced that we will be going north. She prepared me by suggesting I not make any snap judgements but think about it for a while before reacting. I didn’t need to. I thought the idea was superb.

So (at the moment) we’ll be heading north to the far reaches of Norway winding up in Svalbad to see polar bears…hopefully. Of course, this could easily change…

That, however, is for the future. At the moment it’s all about the documents.

Posted in Gary's Posts | 3 Comments

What train is that?!?!?!

All the rain has gone in order to fall on someone else for a change. And although it was quite grey when I went to the gym this morning, by the time I returned home, the skies were all blue. Though not particularly warm.

I left Mirinda to her document thrashing and set off for the Talking Newspaper, Alton edition.

(I’m including some photos I took on the way in and back. They don’t really refer to anything in this post and it’s just because I love Farnham really.)

Castle Street alms houses

Today I had a new reader (for me) called Trish and she learned a valuable lesson. She’s clearly used to the more sedate and professional approach of most of the other Presenters. She is now aware of the chaos inherent in a Gaz recording.

At one point she started to read a story about an Alton man who has managed to write down the names and numbers of every single steam train in England. Needless to say that made me laugh like a loon which in turn totally cracked her up. Then she had a fit of the giggles. The fit was so bad that she couldn’t continue even when I helpfully looked away and tried to ignore her.

West Street just passed the Jolly Sailor

Eventually she announced that she wasn’t going to read the steam train story until later. She read something a little less humorous. It was a classic Gaz Edition Moment which, sadly, will be deleted and never heard. (I sometimes think the sound engineers should make up a blooper reel as a Christmas treat for our listeners.) Trish left the studio safe in the knowledge that next time she’ll be ready.

HA!

I had a story about people doing sneaky cartwheels in their gardens so I signed off with the advice that people are never too old to make a fool of themselves when no-one is looking, before leaving Mike to his editing and deleting.

The lane to the Hart

I decided to pop into the Jolly Sailor for a pint. The pub was awfully quiet. I was hoping the blind barmaid would be in (she gets our recordings and would recognise my voice) but the bar was being looked after by a dour Scotsman. Oddly, he was serving a chap sitting at the bar who was also Scottish. For a moment I thought I’d fallen into a worm hole and arrived in Edinburgh.

Eventually I shopped then went home where I was kept very busy converting various documents to PDF files for Mirinda…though I refused to convert a PDF to a PDF. When she repeatedly asked me why I kept refusing to convert the particular document, I told her it was already a PDF and every time I tried the software asked me why I wanted to convert something to something it already was.

I forgave her some shortness given the pressure she’s under. Mind you, that did make her laugh which is always a good sign. I then told her the steam train story which elicited another laugh. I felt like my work had been done for the day.

Then I cooked dinner.

“What’s a PDF?”

Posted in Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

Very, very wet

Most of the day was spent working on Mirinda’s documents. Well, after going to the gym and then Skyping with mum (she went on a bus trip to a massive wholesale shop and bought nothing which is weird).

The weather was so awful, I didn’t walk into town to go shopping. Mirinda, having a break, drove me in. She didn’t want to confuse the Starbuck’s girls so we didn’t share a table.

Actually what happened was she went shopping while I sat in Starbucks and wrote a bereavement card for a cousin and wrote some of yesterday’s blog post. When she returned, I went to Waitrose to shop. We did go home together.

The poor puppies didn’t get a walk because of the weather. They don’t understand why they can’t go for a walk. Mind you, Freya hates the rain so I’m not sure what she thinks when she’s desperate to go out the front door. Maybe she thinks the weather is different out the front and in the park than it is in the back garden.

Anyway, that was about it for the day…which adds up to a blessedly short blog post. For a change.

Posted in Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

Gymniversary

Today marks my first year anniversary of gym membership. I am amazed that I have stuck it out let alone enjoy it and feel like I’ve missed out when I can’t go. And, as I keep telling people, I feel the healthiest I ever remember feeling. These can’t be bad things. Of course that’s diet as well as exercise. Anyway, I like the new regime.

But that’s all by the by because tonight The Shots had their first home game of the season and Nicktor insisted that we should go. How could I possibly refuse?

Shots v Torquay

Of course we started off with dinner at the Queen Vic where we met up with Steve who lives in Nicktor’s road. He met him when they had a street party and they discovered that they both supported the often Mighty Shots. Then it turns out that he actually sat and had a drink with us when we travelled to Dartford a few years ago. According to his wife, it’s not surprising that Nicktor didn’t remember him because Steve has a forgettable face. I thought this was a bit harsh…though I didn’t remember him either.

After a few beers, the three of us set off for the ground only to be confronted with the horrible situation of the Slab being closed off! When asked, a chap that Steve knows told us it was because of a shortage of security staff. This was very, very irritating…mainly because it meant moving over to the North Stand or the Moaner’s Terrace as I like to call it.

While I didn’t hear much moaning, it was pretty full. This is obviously because all the old Slabbers were there as well as the regulars. Neighbour Dave and Richard the Eggman were there somewhere but I couldn’t see them. We were soon joined by a few old Slabbers we know and Bill’s son Rob. We all settled in for the football.

The game started at a cracking pace with the Shots making a decisive move early on, scoring in the first five minutes to the utter jubilation of the fans. Tonight’s game followed the first game of the season when the team travelled all the way to Halifax and managed to score an away victory with a 2-0 scoreline. Things were looking good. Then, four minutes later, Torquay scored, levelling things back up again.

And so the game remained for the first half. There was a lot of sharp passing by both teams and it would be hard to separate them as much as I would like to. The first half was hard fought and exciting. There was almost another Shots goal late on but the Torquay goalie made an incredible reflex save to palm a shot over the net.

At halftime, Nicktor did the unprecedented and sat down on the terrace. This enabled him to have a good chat with Rob.

Nicktor and Rob

I think I remember seeing Rob at a game many years ago when he was but a lad. I don’t think he enjoyed it much. He’s at uni now. I have no idea if he enjoyed the game tonight but it was nice to see him.

The second half started with the same intent as the first. After two minutes, the Shots were once more in the lead. Then, out of nowhere, Torquay scored again. It was pretty annoying. But then, equally out of nowhere and a long time after the players had finished their elaborate celebrations, the linesman’s flag went up for off-side. Everyone was stunned.

There then ensued a very long discussion between the referee and the linesman just in front of us. Unfortunately we couldn’t hear what they were talking about. It was all a bit mysterious. There were plenty of Aldershot supporters who claimed they’d seen it was plainly off-side. I didn’t see it so I can only go with the referee’s decision which was to disallow the goal and wave away the Torquay players who felt sorely wronged.

But the fighting spirit never left Torquay as they piled on the pressure. Then we scored again. But even then Torquay kept going and managed to score a consolation goal near the end. And so it ended 3-2 and the Shots remain undefeated so far this season.

It was a great night of exciting football. I hope the rest of the season is as good.

Posted in Gary's Posts | 2 Comments

Nose grinding

Thursday is the deadline, the day that Mirinda has been preparing for since 2012. And of course, it’s a sprint for the finish line. There are documents to prepare, spreadsheets to enable, all sorts of stuff that requires her expert attentions.

She was originally going up to the flat this morning but, after talking to Sarah, she decided she’d rather stay at the house and work in the (relative) quiet. Though Dave the Gardener and Adam quickly dispelled any notion of quiet with their heavy duty machinery. I missed most of this because I was at the gym.

This week their work was a little less concentrated in one spot and rather took them all over the garden. While Dave tied up the jasmine, Adam was out the back cutting stuff back and mowing the grass. (Clearly Mirinda is not happy with my efforts at the one garden job I don’t mind doing.)

The noise quickly dissipated after 12 when they packed up and left for their afternoon job. We settled down to some serious document work.

My job was to read, edit and correct for clarity as well as sort out the citations and bibliography. Because of the nature of the document, it has to have a list of documents that link to documents that expand the notions within the original. Sounds confusing because it is.

Not that that’s as confusing as it gets when you pass documents from a Windows machine to a Mac and back again. The referencing was driving me mad, reverting and being fixed then reverting again. I eventually finished it at almost 1am. It would be fair to say that I’d rather not see the document ever again.

On a brighter note, I made my first latte in Eddie today. It was pretty good but I need to work on the ‘art’ a bit. Oh, and a little less milk is required. Who knew that it would expand?

I forgot to include the latest progress photo of Maine Tower yesterday. So here it is today.

Posted in Gary's Posts | 2 Comments

The beginning of the mayhem

Yesterday saw the start of the platform extension programme at Waterloo Station. For the next three weeks there will only be half of the 20 odd platforms available for trains while the work is completed. We have been given more warning than I would have thought strictly necessary but at least it means people can’t really claim ignorance.

This morning I put the new timetable to the test. Our trains don’t seem to have been affected except that they are stopping at more stations which makes the trips a bit longer. I can live with that if it all works properly. Of course, being a weekend, the true impact of the closed platforms will truly be felt tomorrow morning when the commuters start their journeys to work.

My trip was completely problem free. I left the flat for the Jubilee Line and arrived at Waterloo 15 minutes before the scheduled train home…which left exactly on schedule. The trip was easy and I was back in Farnham by lunchtime.

My arrival at home was welcomed by Freya who desperately tried to let me in the front door. Mirinda has this habit of putting the front door on the latch when I’m not there. This means that no-one with a key can get in. Of course I could have just climbed in library window but preferred to yell and scream and call her from her yoga on the Lumpy Grass. Of course she thought it was uproariously funny.

And waiting for me to unwrap was our newest acquisition. Eddie, our new Espresso Machine.

Eddie

Mirinda always likes a ‘nice’ coffee when she’s home and I’ve been making cups of fresh bean cafetiere with cream for her. Then, last week, I decided it was time we stepped things up a bit. After a fair bit of research, I settled on Eddie. Mirinda had the first coffee and said it was very good. I’ll have to practice a bit but it is very easy to use and tastes much better than either instant or the cafetiere.

The rest of the day was spent in working on Mirinda’s Very Important Document and associated documents. At one stage, a very excited Freya couldn’t help but show her enthusiasm for the spreadsheet we were both working on.

Zzzzzz

She quickly woke up when it was time for a walk. Mirinda took them both off to Hankley while I cooked up a mini Japanese feast. Genghis Khan (rapidly becoming my favourite), griddled veg, tofu and caviar and, of course, Miso Gaz. A yumbo way to end the day.

Posted in Gary's Posts | 2 Comments

As howling after music

Following a delightful Laze-in (which is like a Lay In only not so formal), I headed off to the Borough Markets in order to by some delights for the Weasel Globe outing today. And, delight of delights, I found some Livarot! (As far as I’m aware, Livarot is allowed at the Globe.)

Of course I caught the ferry to London Bridge, noticing with some annoyance that the pier at Canary Wharf now has no seats for those waiting. There used to be a bank of seats but now that’s gone. And the waiting room is under a state of demolition given they are fixing it up. Even so, the actual trip was lovely.

Having bought out most of the cheese shops at the market, I lugged it all around to The Anchor, our usual meeting place along the Thames and just before the Globe. I arrived just in time to see a long line of Weasels appearing out of the pub, grasping glasses, heading for the river terrace. I dumped my cheese and followed suit.

Some Weasels at The Anchor

After a few pints we then headed for our usual Gentleman’s Box B in order to see Emma Rice’s final directorial job for the Globe. And all I can say (before I say anything else) is that I am really, really going to miss Emma Rice. Like The Dream last year, Twelfth Night was an extraordinary trip through her imagination. It was fantastic.

Starting like an episode of The Love Boat (Rice set the play in 1979), the play follows the crazy antics of separated twins who wind up falling in love with people who are in love with each other. Of course it all ends happily…except for poor Malvolio (played superbly by Katy Owen who was a brilliant Puck last year).

The entire cast was superb and it’s hard picking a favourite but for me, edging it (just) was Carly Bawden as Maria. But, as I say, it was difficult for any single performer to shine. The ensemble was extremely strong and played together with a perfection that most casts would surely envy. This Twelfth Night had no weaknesses.

The performance was a delightful romp which kept us laughing from start to finale.

Interestingly, John, although he enjoyed the production, was a bit critical saying that “It wasn’t Shakespeare!” which I countered with “Most of it was.” He also didn’t like the fact that the cast was miked up, making it difficult to know who was speaking given the voices came out of the speakers. I sort of agree with this last criticism but it would have been impossible to hear them over the electric band so for that reason I’m thankful for it.

The traditional dance

Apart from that quibble, we all left full of joy in search of a suitable drinking establishment in which to spend a few more hours together.

Lorna and Tom discussing bowling balls

Rather than the normal wandering round all parts of London, we settled into the Rake on the edge of Borough Market. Eventually we even managed to land a table and enough chairs for us all. Here’s a short video of us apart from Lindy who had to go home and sort some Germans out.

Eventually I staggered down to Bankside Pier and, after waiting an age for the next ferry, finally staggered back to the flat where I simply collapsed onto the bed.

Thames Path

Posted in Gary's Posts, Globe | 1 Comment

Deeper underground

This week at work, we relocated to the bowels of the museum into the room that the Conservators use when they are around…which is not usually on a Friday. (The room is directly opposite the Museum Workshops where mysterious objects are built, repaired and adjusted as the museum needs. I once visited when we were taken on our tour of the Big Red Steam Engine and how it works.)

I’d had an email from Nick at Work to say we’d meet in Docs (as usual) then we’d decamp to a quieter spot. And it was. In fact it was delightfully quiet with only vague trolley sounds above us as the shops and cafes were being restocked.

The reason for the ear deafening building work is so Imperial College can have a new set of school rooms called the Dyson (named after James) School of Design Engineering. In fact the building which once housed the Director and his lavish offices has now been renamed Dyson House. How we retained the basement, I have no idea.

Construction work around the now defunct Director’s Entrance

It’s funny to think that originally I entered the museum via the Groups’ Entrance and then that changed (once I had my own cryptag) to the Director’s Entrance before reverting back to the Groups’ Entrance because of the building work. Mind you, I prefer the Groups’ Entrance because I get to walk through the museum before opening which is always a delight.

The only problem with the Conservator’s Room is that it’s quite a hike to the file stores and back or to Nick’s desk where our mini-library resides. Still, it’s a small price to pay for the lack of ear-ache. Besides, it’s just a case of changing my way of working so that rather than get up and down every time I start a new object, I would go and look up a group of them at the same time.

Which is exactly what I did this week.

Most of the morning was spent in discussion (I hesitate to use the word ‘debate’ though it did surface a few times) and amendment of last week’s records. After lunch, I spent most of the afternoon in the file stores noting down all the (valuable) documents on the record for the SS Great Eastern model I’m currently researching. I was also looking up something for Nick (three prisms that exist on MIMSY but no-one can actually find anywhere else).

The other thing I was looking for (or rather group of things) was a collection of mysterious objects attached to the model of the SS Great Eastern mysteriously called “2D material” and repeated 12 times. This makes 13 objects in all without any rhyme or reason. It took me a while to hunt down what they are (and there’s no guarantee that I’m right given the original registers have now been moved to Wroughton which is too far for me to go and look up) but I reckon I’ve worked it out.

In pencil, faded by time, on a catalogue card (or Form 100 as I’ve been told to call them) is a note that reads “and 12 photos + 1.” There is also a location on MIMSY that places these mysterious objects in a plan press at Blyth which tends to imply that this ‘2D material’ is being kept flat and safe. I told Nick that he needs to look the next time he’s over there, giving him the definitive location.

This was a bit of a victory (and I’m 98% sure I’m correct) and made up for the fact that I have not been able to find out if the company name for John Scott Russell’s firm is ‘J. Scott Russell and Co’ or ‘John Scott Russell and Company.’ This may not seem important but registered companies have an official name and our records should reflect that name. Normally we’ll have a bit of letterhead in a file but not in this case.

We have little actual stuff contemporary with Mr Russell…or at least as far as I’ve found. I’m sure I’ll keep looking and one day it’ll just pop up and bite me on the nose.

So that was it for my day…though there was a bit of gossip that Nick accidentally told me.

Apparently a volunteer from a few years ago, that I thought he liked a lot was not as liked as it seemed. Nick found this chap (not Howard!) a pain who did things his own way and while pretending to listen to Nick when he told him what to do, went and did whatever he wanted anyway. Nick said that while we have long discussions and debates about how things should be done, we always reached consensus and moved forward with mutual understanding, this guy was impossible.

The trouble was that this guy knew an awful lot and was a bit of an authority on all matters maritime. He’d also been around for a very, very long time. Nick said he was very pleased when he left. I was surprised. I guess he’s good at hiding his feelings at work but probably goes home and complains long and bitterly about people to his wife. I certainly know how that feels…

After work I headed over to the flat. I was staying overnight in order to sleep in before meeting the Weasels to see Twelfth Night at the Globe tomorrow.

The Curvy Bridge at Canary Wharf

PS: I didn’t go anywhere at lunch time but I took this video at the V&A last week and include it because I forgot. It’s a fractured trip through the 1600-1815 gallery if European art and assorted stuff. It’s a relatively new gallery.

Posted in Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

Here’s to Fahrelnissa

Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901-1991) was an artist I’d never heard of until late last week. I read a little bit about her early life and it had me intrigued. She was born into a family of Turkish aristocrats, all a bit eccentric, and was one of the first females to be taught art in Turkey.

She started painting figurative art and then, after moving to London with her second, ambassador husband, headed all the way into the Abstract. Her style eventually moved back to the figurative (with some extraordinary portraiture) with her move to Jordan following the death of her husband.

The thing is, although her life was surrounded by her art (and some of it was truly of a monumental scale) her life was amazingly full. For instance, she narrowly escaped being assassinated along with the Iraqi royal family in 1958 – her husband being a member. She had convinced him to holiday in Italy with her instead of returning to Baghdad as he usually did.

Early in her life, her brother was accused of the murder of her father.

She was great friends with the Queen Mother and was a major part of the essential social whirl of London during the immediate post war period.

And so on and so on…there’s a lot of incredible stuff about her but, back to her art…While she exhibited extensively in both London and Paris over a thirty year period, she seems to have been largely forgotten. I think this is a shame because her paintings are vibrant and alive and full of colour. I’m sure that after the war, the world would have been in need of lots of bright, happy colours, something Zeid managed with panache.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing about Fahrelnissa Zeid is because I went to the Tate Modern today and saw a retrospective of her work. (This was the exhibit I didn’t go to on Monday.) While small, it was wonderful. The move through her style changes was impressive. You can see her abstract growing from painting to painting until there’s nothing but abstract left. The big paintings are a joy.

In most of her paintings the viewer can sort of see what is going on (when the title provides a hint) but one that left me confused was her take on Alice in Wonderland. (Okay, I know I shouldn’t have taken a photo but, really, how could I possibly resist an Alice? no matter how odd.)

Alice? Really?

I’m very glad I went and not just because the exhibit was so good but also because it was in the new part of the Tate Modern, the Blavatnik Building. And while it’s pretty extensive inside, it looks well cool from the outside. (Interestingly, a lot of local office workers appear to use it for lunch.)

All up, I had a marvellous day…which is just as well because August is going to be a bit devoid of travel into London except for work. The reason for this is because Waterloo Station is undergoing some platform extending and trains will be few and far between until September. The guards have been telling us almost continuously for months. No-one who regularly catches a train into London could pretend they don’t know.

So, this was my final (for a while) exhibition.

And, of course, I took a video. Outside the new part of Tate Modern there’s this big circle created by big red letters. It’s quite cool and worth a pan around.

I have no idea if the ‘P’ is supposed to be fallen over or if it was the wind. It does make it rather enigmatic though.

Posted in Art Exhibition, Gary's Posts | 1 Comment

Shaggy dogs

I forgot to mention on Monday that I was going to go up to the Tate Modern to see an exhibition. I managed to get a bus to the station but then, on seeing the hordes on the platform, realised that something was amiss. Upon entering the ticket office I was confronted with an indicator board showing cancellations and delays flashing with frightening regularity.

There were no staff members around but a helpful little old lady told me the trains were not being reliable. I told her there was no need for me to be there then and I walked back to the bus stop to go home. Mirinda was very surprised to see me back so soon.

I later discovered that there had been a massive signal failure south of Woking which stuffed up all trains going into London on our side. Not going in saved me from a lot of sitting in trains for little point.

But, as I said, that was on Monday. Today I walked the girls up to Kate for a haircut. They have managed to get rather bushy since May and, Freya especially, they really needed a trim.

Before

Oddly, Emma wasn’t that keen to go with Kate but, as Kate explained later, as soon as the gate was closed behind me, she was as good as gold and happily jumped onto the table. Freya, on the other hand, was happy from the off.

After dropping them, I headed into town to do the shopping and go to Starbucks.

Getting home, I was surprised by a knock at the door. It was Kate returning the girls. That’s an impressive turnaround, I told her. Actually it had been three hours, she told me.

I suspect she’s finding it difficult to get her old clients back after such a long break. Hopefully they’ll return eventually. On a brighter note, she told me the baby is good (a boy to go with the girl they already have) and settling in fine. She said she wanted more but claimed she was too old.

The puppies looked gorgeous. Freya is starting to look better after a haircut. I reckon it’s because she’s getting older. Emma, of course, always looks beautiful.

After

As Kate and I stood talking at the door, the rain started slowly dropping. As she drove away, it fell in earnest. And so it was for the rest of the day. Horrible, wet and miserable. Perfect for housework.

Posted in Gary's Posts | 1 Comment