Monday 21 January 2008

Miss Fixit - that's me

Today, I'm feeling better. Not brilliant. Not "normal". Just better than yesterday. Sadly, circumstances (a trip to the Netherlands tomorrow for meetings I have to attend) meant that I had to go into work today, but I escaped as soon as I could.

Naturally, today was the day that Crisis hit the Procurement Team and was dumped in my lap! Who'd have thought that there would be a problem importing widgets into Italy so that a supplier could turn them into whats-its? Well, I'd have thought Procurement for a start. After all, it's their speciality.

Nuh-uh. Who had to fix it? Me. The project accountant. I know very little about importing ANYTHING from outside the EU - why would I? I've worked in service industries for the last 18 years. I know LOTS about accounting for "long term projects". But, it's known that I spent a day trying to work out if we'd have a problem with import duty bringing stuff into the UK for this project. So now, I'm the "universal expert" in the subject. Huh?

I got on the phone, obtained a definition of the problem (supplier can't clear the goods from Customs because they don't own them) and asked for a solution (I was told that if I issued a pro-forma invoice that'd do the trick). Got the solution cleared by the supplier, the man at Italian Customs and the expediter. Raised the invoice, emailed it off and then got the hell out of dodge!

I have no idea if I have all the stuff I'll need for the next two days. I'm sure that there is work I haven't done (tough titties boys!). However, I'll cope. I'll wing it if I have to. Right now, I'm too shattered to give a damn.

- Pam (next time, I'm bringing my laptop home for the weekend. It's the real reason I went in.)

Sunday 20 January 2008


To all the knitters reading this blog, Noro is a brand of yarn. To most Brits, however, it's a virus sweeping the country causing diarrhoea and vomiting. And I'm it's latest victim.

That's right. Since Friday evening, I've spent the majority of time feeling like death. I'm too hot. I'm too cold. I want to throw up. I don't want to throw up. Yaddada yaddada. (I'm a wrotten patient!)

Today, I can face the TV. I'm watching a really bad Miss Marple on the TV, "Murder in the Caribbean". I doubt Agatha Christie's pen had much to do with it. The highlight, so far, is watching Miss Marple knit in the continental style; so highly unlikely that she would have. Not an elderly lady from St Mary Mead. That and the dialogue - trust me, this film is dreadful!

How low have I sunk?

- Pam

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Who the Hell is Phil??

One of the benefits about using my own score to perform Handel's Messiah again is that I get to revisit all the annotations I made last time. And the time before. And there are a lot of them: ranging from "Concentrate", to "Watch Score!", to notes circled, underlined, etc. They're useful and, sometimes, intriguing. I know, for instance, that I'm still struggling with hitting a note in the middle of "And he shall purify the Sons of Levi", where instead of going up high at the end of a run, the soprano line goes down. Yes. That's right. Down. Unheard of!

Some of the notes that said "Look at Andrew" or "John!!!", but most intriguing were the ones that said "Phil". Who the hell, was Phil???

"John" was easy to remember: John Argyle, my first conductor at the university choral society. We even had a song for him, sung to the tune of "Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner":

"Maybe it's because I'm a chorister
That I love John Argyle.
Love his woolly beard and his spectacles.
Yea, verily, he's got style.
I get a funny feeling inside of me
Every time I see him smile.
Oh, maybe it's because I'm a chorister
That I love John Argyle"

"Andrew" wasn't that difficult either. He conducted the next choir I joined. (He also used to play the organ for my school's biannual services at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne, when I sang in the school choir.)

But who the hell was "Phil"? All last week, I was wracking my brain trying to remember. I remembered being conducted by Bevan, and Barry, David (a.k.a. "Frodo", he had hairy feet), another John (he was the Music Master at the Boy's School - I was at the Girls' but sang in their choir - I always had to fight myself not to call him "Sir"). But no Phil.

The "D'oh!" moment came on Monday night when I was driving home from rehearsal. I can't believe it hadn't occurred to me. I'd spent the entire week moaning to people that I couldn’t remember who "Phil" was. And yet, it was so simple. And I was being such an airhead. What was the name of the choir that Andrew had conducted me in? The Melbourne Philharmonic Choir" a.k.a. "the Melbourne Phil". D'oh!

- Pam

Monday 14 January 2008

All excited!

I've been meaning to write this since last Monday. Life got in the way.

Last Monday night, I did something I haven't done in over 18 years - I got out my copy of Handel's Messiah (Watkins Shaw edition), turned to page 227 and sang! Yes, folks, I have joined a serious choir.

At least, I hope I have. If they let me in after the audition. And God knows what I'll sing for that. I'm tempted by "There were Shepherds Abiding in the Fields", movements 14 - 16 of the Messiah, but I haven't sung that since I left Australia.

Oh, how I've missed singing seriously. Once upon a time, I sang with some of Australia's leading amateur choirs and in the largest choral festival in the Southern Hemisphere, the (almost) annual Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival. I've sung at the Sydney Opera House. I've sung in the Melbourne Concert Hall. I've sung with four major Australian symphony orchestras. And I've sung the Messiah in concert at least 6 times with two separate choirs, including on Australian national radio (ABC FM).

It was weird singing the Messiah again. On the one hand, I hadn't looked at the music since December 1988. Some of the things we sang, I didn't remember at all until I heard the opening bars of the movement - then something woke up in the back of my brain and I was away. (OK, ok, I know Handel's style is such that you have a 70% chance of guessing the next bar correctly without looking at it, but even so....)

The only downside is that this choir doesn't warm up. I asked about that. Their conductor (? our conductor ?) doesn't believe in it. He is retiring in the summer, so hopefully his replacement will warm up our voices. I know make a difference.

We rehearse from 7.45pm until 9.45pm, so I better sign off now. It's a 20 minute drive.

- Pam

Wednesday 9 January 2008

No Pay Day

Per BBC Breakfast this morning, today is No Pay Day; the day when 40% of the British run out of money and have to rely on credit to survive until they're paid at the end of January.

Lord, how I remember that situation! That was me a decade or so ago. We'd get paid before Christmas and have to survive until the 27th of January (Six. Whole. Weeks!) before we were paid again.

February was the worst month, though, because February was when all the payments hit that had been delayed from January: all the bills that hadn't been paid (because they couldn't be paid in January - no money); the money that had been "borrowed" and had to be put back into other pots; etc, etc. I used to have to pay everything, too, in those days - I never got a penny in housekeeping or towards the bills from my ex-husband. Dumbo believed that what was his money was his money and my money was his also.

It was during one, very tough February (in 1991) that Dumbo and I survived on the contents of the Larder and £25 of groceries. At about that time, I discovered one of my favourite recipe books: How to Feed Your Family on £4 a Day by Bernadine Lawrence. (Note: There is an updated £5 a day version, which contains corrections to the few errors in the earlier edition.) That book was the start of my frugal education.

I'd like to say that what saved me from repeated No Pay Days was better budgeting (and eventually getting some money from Dumbo each month), but in reality it was changing jobs to a company that didn't pay early at Christmas. I couldn't fall into the pitfall of spending all my money for January before Christmas, because I didn't get any. More than anything else, that broke the habit.

- Pam

Wednesday 2 January 2008

And so the New Year begins - work

Process. That's all I can cope with at work today. Processing basic stuff, like photocopying invoices and saving purchase orders to the correct folder on the network.

My head is fuzzy. My brain is numb. I've had too little sleep and I don't want to be here.

- Pam

Tuesday 1 January 2008

New Year's Resolutions

OK. Time to 'fess up. How many New Year's Resolutions did you make?

I habitually use the time between Christmas and New Year to reflect on my goals for the forthcoming year and to day-dream about where I would like life to take me. One year, I actually started my exercise goal on Boxing Day. Most years, I've written it all down in the back of an A5 day-per-page diary and promptly forgotten about it. This year, I decided to blog about it instead.

I've come up with some big categories under which I've placed sub-goals. So, drum roll please, here are my New Year's Resolutions:-


I'm determined to put exercise back into my morning routine: yoga for January, then alternating between yoga and running for February, adding weight training in March. I don't have a target yet for my running - should I aim for a half marathon? I currently can't run to the end of the street!

Later in the year, I was thinking of starting in September, I'd like to do some sort of self-defence training, e.g. Krav Maga or kick-boxing.

Oh, and this year, I will get my weight back to below 9 stone (which will put me below my goal weight for Weight Watchers).


Just before Christmas, work surprised me with a 5.5% pay rise. Although the place has improved, I'm going to continue to job hunt. I want to work somewhere friendly. And I want the possibility of career progression, which I don't have now.

Home and Garden

I have four goals for our garden;-
  1. Create a proper flower garden in the front.
  2. Create a viable vegetable garden in the back.
  3. Get a new "garden cupboard" to store the mower, the cushions for the garden furniture and the gardening tools.
  4. Remove the existing tumbling-down wooden shed.
And I have a few for the house, mainly:-
  1. Sell my flat. This project has been dormant for months and needs to be completed. We could do with the money AND other things depend on it, like renovating this house.
  2. Wash up each night before I go to bed, instead of leaving the dishes until the next morning.
  3. Zone the house and spend 15 minutes a day tidying up, decluttering and cleaning. Surely I can do 15 minutes? Note, this excludes normal "kitchen tidying".
  4. Continue to sort out my wardrobe. I took a large bag of clothes to the charity shop on Saturday and I'm sure there are other items to follow.
How's that for New Year's resolutions?

- Pam