Tuesday 26 July 2011

Horrible Bosses

'I'm leaving,' I wanted to say, 'because I can't work with a middle aged,

misogynistic office boy, stuck in the vernacular of a bad 1970s sitcom.'

Or...to point and sing loudly from across the room:

'You're a dick and you know you are....'

Or....just shout:

'Fuck off you cunt.....'

Or.....turn away and quietly say:

'Manners cost nothing....and maketh man.'

Or....stand in front of him and everyone else, look him in the eye and say:

'How dare you wave your finger at me and say 'later'. Later? I'm working

my arse off to sort out a mess that should never have happened if you'd

given me this information 6 months ago. And you can't answer one

question. I'm trying to save your skin here. You're not my boss. I don't

even know what it is you do. No one knows what it is you do. What

exactly is it Richard does, we ask each other. You're the office joke you

paunching, balding, sad-sack of a man.'

But I didn't. I went for a walk. I

walked around John Lewis seeking solace. I went into the basement and

bought Soba noodles and coconut creme and Cannellini beans even

though I didn't need them. And a bar of dark, dark chocolate covered

marzipan even though I wasn't hungry. I didn't smoke a cigarette. I did call

friends on my mobile phone and say all the things I hadn't actually said to

Richard-the-fuckwit. And I felt really, really pissed off. And I wanted to

quit the job and cause a huge problem at a very tricky time for which he

would be blamed. So he would lose his job because I already know he's a

bit of a dead man walking. And I know he knows he is. And for a man in

his 40s with a young family, who was made redundant last year, this is a

chance he can't afford to fuck up. And he already has. So I went back to

work and he said he was ready to answer my question. And I looked at the

paunching, balding, sad-sack of a man and I felt sorry for him. Because his

wife gives him pitta bread and humus for lunch. Every single day. And this is his


I think I need to work somewhere else. Suggestions on a postcard please…..

Will work for money.

Top tip: as the Buddha would say, ‘you will not be punished for your anger,

You will be punished by your anger…..’

Tuesday 19 July 2011


He was standing outside The French House holding half a pint of Guinness: a perfectly nice man in a checked shirt and worn jeans, a back-pack at his feet. She knew it was him before he even turned: thinner than in the picture, older, apologetic. She could just go, keep walking, but what kind of karma would that be?

“Hi” she said, trying to smile.

“Oh hi,” he beamed, “do you want a drink?”

“Yes,” she said, elbowing her way through the sticky-slicked-post-work crowd, keen to make it to the bar before him. She would buy her own drink. And leave in her own time.

His teeth were the crooked mess common to British men of a certain age, his voice a thin Edinburgh whine. Jasper Carrot’s less good looking brother.

He finished his drink.

“I ordered a pint,” he apologised, “but they gave me a half. I’ll just get another one.”

Perfect. He was just the kind of man who got served halves. She fished out her mobile from the bottom of her over-sized bag and hastily punched in a cry for help.

He was back.

The phone rang.

“Oh dear,” she said, “Sorry, I have to take this, my friend’s just lost her mother.”


My friend is having an affair. He’s a very old friend. He’s not a philanderer by nature. He is middle-aged......I have both been bad and good in my time, I know all the excuses and I know what it is like to have your heart ripped out, stomped on and fed to the pigeons. We’ve talked. And talked some more. I have learnt...late in life....that when one pleads that they don’t want to hurt anyone what then usually mean is, they don’t want to get hurt themselves. He told me when he was drunk. I wish he hadn’t. What do I do now?

Top tip: Lindt Excellence dark chocolate with sea salt.......utterly amazing...honestly, just try it!!

Saturday 9 July 2011


Why does stuff happen? Does it all matter? Does any of it matter?

My son left a bottle of champagne on the kitchen table. The champagne was his. He was in the shower. I put the the bottle back in the fridge where it's been for....ages. He got himself ready, grabbed his keys and left the house.
"Did you put my champagne back in the fridge?" he asked when he called an hour later.
"Yes," I said.
"I put it on the table so I wouldn't forget it." He said. "Now I've forgotten it."
"Oh," I said. "Sorry, shall I bring it over?"

He and a friend found a few leftover bottles when they were loading out kit after some big match at Wembley; an occasional perk from an occasional job working long hours for very little money through the night.....so why not? He had been wondering when to open it and the last night of the show he'd been doing the sound on seemed as good a time as any. It was only half an hours brisk walk through the leafy north London streets. The clouds had parted and the sun was simmering in the blue; a warm if not quite balmy evening. I had planned to do nothing on this particular Saturday: no socialising, no alcohol, no food, just catch up with Nurse Jackie, The Kennedys and Mildred Pierce, all backed up after my week in France. So, I set off and as I walked I wondered why this random event had to happen.

My son was standing out on the balcony, smoking a cigarette and chatting with an attractive young women who apparently was doing the lights. I handed over the bottle and turned to go walking straight into Sean Bean, hunky-northern-ne'er-do-well-actor.
" 'Scuse me love," he beamed........shorter than I'd have imagined. Odd, I thought, maybe that was why.

As I walked back I stopped to by some anchovies.....delicious and highly nutritious.....and they had an offer on ...... Disaronno.........one of my most favourite drinks, poured over ice, delicious if perhaps not so nutritious. Maybe that was why I'd made this un-scheduled trip out, I mused.

After the anchovies and several tumblers of the Ameretto, the ice-clinking seductively in the glass, I watched yet another movie, staying up hours and hours later than I'd planned for my low-key evening. But I was enjoying myself, I thought maybe that was why I'd had to go out unexpectedly? Then I got a text from an alcoholic poet I recently met: the teeth are false, the scars are real and he makes Fat Boy, the most recent-ex, look like a boy scout....however, he does laugh like a pirate and who doesn't love a pirate?

Great, I thought, I'm still up, I can text back........perhaps that was why my plans for the evening had changed. And so I engaged in some late night missives. I'm leaving my phone off today.......and why doesn't matter.

Top tip: never drink and text.

Monday 4 July 2011

Ommmmmmmmm.....tiddly pom

People I know who know about meditation have often said to me:
"Oh you should try meditation, it helps calm the mind and you think too much about your life."
And I have thought:
'Yes, I should try meditation, I need to calm my mind, I think too much about my life.'
So I've been thinking about doing meditation for about......15 years. And finally, I googled 'mediation class' and found one: up the road, at my local Buddhist centre. Perfect. As they say, when the pupil is ready......

So it was that I turned up one sunny evening; mindful, eager and inappropriately dressed. Us newcomers were directed to a large room, smelling sweetly of incense, and instructed in low tones to sit 'comfortably' on piles of cushions, under the gaze of a large, golden Buddha. I arranged my cushions and bent my legs about me, closed my eyes, listened to the words of my teacher and began the practice.

I tried hard to 'observe the breath'......it's harder than it sounds.....but, I thought, this is great, I'm meditating. A minute and a half later my right foot had developed pins and needles so I shifted my weight minutely and realised my left foot was totally numb. I twisted slightly and the bracelets on my left arm jangled noisily so I tried to muffle the sound with my right hand but that alerted me to the pain in my right shoulder, which was moving into my neck. By now I had lost all feeling below the waist and could pinch my calf quite hard, to no affect. The tight denim of my skinny jeans had cut off all circulation in my legs. Completely. I couldn't move at all. I tried to 'observe' the pain and focus on my breathing but I was sort of hyperventilating and wondering if I was giving myself deep vein thrombosis.

Eventually, the gong chimed and we were back in the room. I flopped sideways off my cushions, both legs now paralysed, and tried desperately to massage life back into them, willing my toes to wiggle, while all about me were happily springing up, eager to chat about their experience over the mint and chamomile tea. Still, for 20 minutes I hadn't thought about the rest of my life.

As the Buddhists say;
Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water
After enlightenment: chop wood carry water.......

Top tip: Always wear lose fitting clothing when meditating.....