scribbles tagged ‘1986’

hairstyle as behavioural indicator

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

You’re not quite as wild as your hairstyle suggests

Wendy bringing the Tea in Hawkins cafe June 1986My PhD supervisor observed 2 months into my PhD. I think he was a bit disappointed. I’d learnt that a key part of his interview process was to judge a person by their hairstyle.

I’d worn all green to my interview, with a large black belt and my back-brushed hair included streaks of green to match my outfit. I’d adapted gothic and rebranded it with a green theme. The green streaks in my hair were an accident, but a pleasant one.

I’d seen an advertisement in the Guardian for a PhD on “Information Technology and Human Memory”. It sounded intriguing. The PhD I was currently lined up to do was:

  • sponsored by IBM
  • more money than my friends in employment were making
  • deadly boring – compare key-stroke mathematical equations that describe human interaction with the computer and find or develop a better model
  • stupid – even in 1986 I knew that there are things that influence human behaviour with a computer which are much more significant than keystrokes

So I was looking for something better. I wrote to the Psychology department asking for more information and bleached some white streaks into my black and orange hair (pictured). Next day I received a phone call asking me to come for an interview. Perhaps I should tone-down my appearance for an interview. I bought a brown hair-dye and died it to what I thought would be normal. Brown hair die is made from green and red colours. The red colour is very sensitive to the pre-existing bleach on hair, it doesn’t ‘take’. The green dye has no problem taking. Instead of turning my bleached streaks to a suitably humble brown the dye turned them green. Ho Hum. Too late now, I’ll go to the interview as normal me rather than professional looking me.

What a fun interview. The interviewer opened by asking

Wendy, is the paperless office a realistic goal?

We chatted about this and agreed on reasons why it was not the right goal, but it could happen. Finally I asked,

So what exactly is this PhD on?

Oh, that’s up to you, anything as long as it involves psychological theories of human memory and IT


This was the PhD for me, freedom to follow what interested me and what I might come to believe in with an excellent thinker to work with and guide me.

An excellent thinker who liked whacky hairstyles.

hairstyle as behavioural indicator
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2 bits of fabulous banter »

questions are telling

Saturday, May 4th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

interviewer: what will you do if a 40yr old male Engineer says to you, that’s a load of rubbish, I don’t need that

wendy: I’d get some good evidence to demonstrate the value to him

interviewer: what would you do if he says he doesn’t listen to women

wendy: (pauses, a bit gobsmacked) I’d stay focussed on the work and what it could do to help him do a better job

interviewer: imagine he just ignores you

wendy: I’d calmly walk to the rest-rooms, SCREAM, then calm down and find my manager to strategize how we can deal with this idiot


I was offered the job

I didn’t take it

questions are telling
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Looky Likey #5: Patti Smith

Monday, October 25th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

After a Martin Stephenson concert in the Portsmouth Wedgewood rooms (1995),

Martin Stephenson and the Daintees sang Crocodile cryer (1986)

Martin walked over to me and said:  I couldn’t help watching you because you look so much like Patti Smith. I found the comparison very flattering, Patti is one of the few female celebrities that is beautfiul in her own right without reference to standard definitions of femininity.

Patti Smith sang Because the night

Looky Likey #5: Patti Smith
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hot seat

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

This  girl called Carol was hanging around at the club.   When she found out that I lived with you she started getting really really nosey about what you were doing, who you hung out with, what it was like living with you.   She was creepy, I didn’t tell her anything.     After the club  she came back to Glen’s house with us and  sat on the electric cooker like she was holding court or something while we made tea.    She just kept on being such  a bitch about you.

So Glen turned the hob on

ruined her skirt

hot seat
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after the concert

Monday, April 26th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

crouching in the back of a black cab,  I’d volunteered to hide from the cab dirver  so that all  6 of us could  travel together and share the cost.  

Kaff:   I don’t like wendy’s hair, its thick with hairspray, stiff and sticky

Kaff leant forward and grabbed a handful of my hair, yanking my head toward her sharp knees and pushing tears from my eyes.   I watched my tears splash on her expensive Italian buckskin suede shoes then  silently added a good dose of flemmy gob to the mix.

Glen: wendy’s hair is  soft and fluffy, nice to touch, I like it

Glen leant forward and stroked my hair,   pulling my head away from kaff’s threatening knees to rest on his tear-drying warm thigh.

The men they couldn’t hand sang rain, steam, speed

after the concert
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facilitated footwear

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Wendy:   I want Oxblood red please!

Conkers footwear facilitator (CFF): You can have any of these colours, you can have different colours for different feet, different colours for different sections of the boot, what would you like?

Wendy: Oh, Oh, OH,   purple, no green, no this electric blue,   no brown.   Oh!   …   um,   Oxblood red please..

Conkers, TotnessI discovered Conkers shoes in the summer of 1986.   discovered after having been sent there by a bouncy student friend from Newton Abbot who’s boots I couldn’t help but admire.   By the time I found Conkers  they were 9 years old and had a small shop at the top of Totnes High street.

They now have a larger shop half way up  Totnes High street. As a student I couldn’t afford the luxury of a well made, durable, easy to repair, natural tree-rubber soled, funky coloured, personalised pair of shoes. I sulked and promised myself that when I had a job I would come back and treat myself.   I’ve had one job or another for nearly 20 years.   This week I went back to Totnes and now I have a pair of boots being made-up to fit.   I suspect I will be back again…   for purple, or green, or…

facilitated footwear
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your eyes turn red

Monday, June 15th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

In 1986  a friend  was sectioned with psychizophrenia.   Before he was sectioned he talked of his fear and knowledge of the condition he suspected that he had.   He knew what was happening to him,   he knew something of what was to come,   he was profoundly scared.     Another friend talked her way through why she should take her own life.   I listened one night.   I listened another night.   I listened again. I listened into the early hours of the morning.  It was overwhelming,   I didn’t have the answers,   she did.   She killed herself.   I moved into the  room she had lived and died in.   The rape stories,  like a gushing tap that you can’t turn-off.    You have to listen.   The often all to vivid knowledge of how their pain has changed their world-view  for them, stays with you.   Always.  

Meanwhile I was  trying to live in a  crumbling contorted fantasy where girls had full human rights and fell in love once, forever.    By 1986  I was denying the dream was dead while engaged in a futile, depserate, effort to resuscitate it.   Everyday could be the day the dream came true…

 The The sang  this is the day  

(warning: this video includes 1980’s hairstyles and  a brass section)

I started smoking. The The sang  slow train to dawn

your eyes turn red
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running out of change

Monday, March 16th, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |

In the early 1980’s student’s didn’t have mobile phones.  

I lived in downtown Birmingham on the 18th floor of a towerblock full of students.   The towerblock  had one,    ONE,  public phone in the entrance way.   Always a long queue  and no soundproof surround.     I rarely phoned mumsie.   Only when I was near a phone booth that didn’t have half a dozen people queuing  to use it.   Normally this would be  in the early hours of the morning at gig’s.     I would use the change I had saved for the bus home to call mumzie.     She wasn’t always best-pleased by my sense of timing.   The calls went something like

Wendy:   Helllllloooooooo mumsie!

Mumsie: do you know what time it is?

Wendy: It’s TIME to call mumzie!

Mumsie:   Have you been drinking?

Wendy:   could well be!

Mumsie:   Oh Gwendolyn!   Are you eating properly?

Wendy:   Chips and curry sauce fresh, ahem,  from the van,   YUMMY!

Mumsie:   we worry about you darling

Wendy:   ARRRRR!   You’re so sweet,   there’s no need to worry mum,   I’m nearly all grown up but I’m fast running out of change…


Mumsie:   goodnight dear, take care…

One such call happened  after listening to the live version of this little gem…

Spear of Destiny sing They’ll never take me alive

running out of change
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outer circle

Thursday, May 4th, 2006 | tags: , , , ,  |


Unlimited travel, freedom printed on my West Midlands Travel  pass.   Buses, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.   Trains too!   No more planning my journeys by cost or parental good will.  No-one I knew could afford a car.   Riding Double Decker buses above the driver with views across the city and into first-floor rooms of street lining houses.   Everything is on show through those windows: loneliness; lovemaking; waiting; TV watching; eating;  arguments; cats watching me watching them.

Sunday riding  the “outer circle”, route 11.   A circle by name,   squished octagonal by map, and  voluptuous curvacious rolling ride by road.   Either way if you keep going long enough  you  end up right back where you started.   The route  is strewn with churches, graveyards, suburbs, slums, shopping streets,   industrial ‘parks’ and other passengers.    A couple made love on the back seat of the upper deck.     When they noticed me noticing them we all giggled.   I respected their location choice because its warm, dry, relatively private,  and best of all it lacks  the scent of rotting mice

West Midlands Transit Map - SQUINT!


Commuters reading books.    A lady explains to her phone  how to treat dry skin then takes its  advice on using a  tea-bag to treat a sore eye.   Everyone looked busy,   except me.    Passengers  in another part of Seattle could make a very different impression.    I wanted to ride the buses ’til the sun had long set and  the buses carried me home,  tired and sated.     But

My stop.      Temporarily mislaid freedom.

Maybe Sunday….

outer circle
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