Mumzie just phoned to find out what TV programme I was watching and suggest that I change channels. Then she hung up. Do I need to get a life? Or is there something strangely comforting about the informality and brevity of the conversation, as-if mum had just called me from another room. Yes, I like that call from a virtual room emotionally nearby
scribbles tagged ‘being wendy’
No key card.
Without my key card I can’t get into the safe, secure, place that is ‘work’. An hour searching the finite, small, tidied through previous searching, Wendy House, didn’t uncover the key card. Sigh. I’ll have to cancel this one and arrange a replacement. A photograph of my looking harassed and bedraggled will adorn my key card until the next time I lose it. Why can’t I put my favourite selfie on my key card? Resigned to the dull, administrative, overhead, I wander out to Thomas and open his door
On the drivers seat is my key card
Between then and my clean, sparkling-self dressing it appeared to have vanished of the face of the earth. I spent an hour searching the small finite spaces of the Wendy House, but nothing. Sigh. My watch has great sentimental value. Easy to replace at a functional level, but this loss left me saddened as I faced my daily jungle trek
After an outstandingly enjoyable jungle trek, de-robing for bed, I noticed my watch wrapped around my right wrist, not it’s usual left wrist
Based on a light weight trend analysis, I suspect I might be moving home this year.
- 86-93 home in Loughborough (including a year living in Edinburgh with my Mortgage, weekend place, in Loughborough).
- 93-20 home in Hampshire (Southsea then Warblington).
- 00-07 home in Seattle (Redmond, I meant to move downtown but somehow never got round to it).
- 07 -14 home in Reading town (intending to stay here for a while yet, but the trend suggests otherwise).
A temporary break in the flood production system. No rain this morning.
Laundry to be washed and dried. No modern tumble-drier accessories. My laundry its catching some rare sun rays in the Wendy House wind-swept garden.
Extra ballast had been added to the ‘airer’ to prevent it attempting a take-off garden tour. Bricks.
The ships that carried lumber from Seattle to San Francisco, to build the beautiful houses there, carried stone back to Seattle as ballast to weight the ships appropriately on the return journey. The stone was used to build many of the Historic buildings in the Pioneer square area of Seattle. Awesome.
The RSPCA has warned that cats are likely to take-off in these strong winds. Despite her own substantial personal ballast, Sampo’s a cautious cat.
Sampo’s not risking any unplanned flights.
For example, this item raised a smirk from me and so many questions. What is this? What does it do? Who would buy it? How would they use it? Does it come with any attachments? Does OS mean ‘Operating System’? Should I buy one in case of emergencies?
What do you think?
- February 2013, the morning my mother had her first stroke. insurance fixed it by replacing the fan, mother recovered.
- November 2013, the morning my father died. Insurance fixed it by replacing a valve.
Just in case the myth created by coincidence has any basis in reality I thought I’d head-off the proximity of the next boiler breakdown by paying for a thorough overhaul and upgrading a few elderly components. I didn’t replace the boiler because all the Heating Engineers I’ve seen have said that it is an excellent, well designed boiler that should last for decades yet. Evidently “they don’t make them like that anymore“. Like my parents.
Wake attendee: Are you (mum’s name)’s sister?
Mum’s only sister is more than 40 years older than me, I was a bit thrown by the question and thinking of myself in relation to Dad:
Wendy: I’m (Dad’s name)’s youngest daughter
Wake attendee: But he’s only got one daughter
Wendy: that’s me, youngest and oldest daughter, at the same time
Many of the people at the funeral remembered me, from when I’d baby-sat their kids, or some other event that my memory had filed somewhere too dusty for me to find. Mainly the guests seemed like strangers to me. They enjoyed the PowerPoint slide deck we’d put together illustrating Dad’s different passions, it prompted conversations across club members as the Gloucester Richard the III society started talking the Retired Professional Engineers Club (Bristol) members about history.
Dad’s funeral was just right for him. The funeral directors were excellent. A man from the funeral directors in a top hat with a silver-tipped long cane walked in front of the hearse as it approached the crematorium. Something wonderfully reverent, respectful, about this little show. I couldn’t deal with the physical presence of Dad’s body. Being in the same room as the body that no longer hosted the dad I knew was overwhelming. From the moment the hearse pulled out in front of our cortege car I was in full mucus-soaked tears, unable to pull words together.
Despite dearly wanting to say some words at the ceremony, I opted put, unable. I hadn’t anticipated being the blubbiest of the family though I was well prepared with multiple thick white cotton handkerchiefs. Everything went smoothly. The funeral was a very traditional, Christian, event. The archaically expressed Christianity didn’t speak to me, the sentiments and shared respectful kind words were good to hear in the company of so many people who’s lives he’d touched. My brother’s tribute was spot-on, as was Dad’s ex-boss’s.
I didn’t wear a hat (Mum’s request), I didn’t wear black. Mum requested that I wear my new dark-blue tailored suit, she wanted me to look good and talk bout my new job with the guests. Only a couple of people wore hats, they looked good.
I wonder how the funeral process will change over time? Live twitter feeds with hashtags projected on the wall relaying condolences from those who can’t be present? Live camera shot of the coffin moving to the incinerator?
The wake made much more sense than the funeral. It was good for me and I hope for the guests. More emphasis on the wake please.
I took mum to the hairdressers and wandered around town trying to think of Christmas, stay warm, share the apparent normality of the other pedestrians.
No rush, everything sorted, I just wanted to get it over with. I think we all expected the funeral and wake to bring a closure that might release deep sleep and remove what feels like a physical hangover as if mild alcohol poisoning were running through my blood, amplifying noises, emotions and bringing a feeling of physical sickness.
Mum’s hair looked good. Later she showed me dad’s tie collection. Did I want any? I wanted them all, I wanted to look at them and imagine him wearing them, I wanted to tease him about his taste in ties.
Wendy: “No, I don’t think I’ll wear them and I don’t know anyone who wears ties. That one’s nice“
Mum: “It was your dad’s favourite”
There’s a sense of guilt about not being sufficiently disrupted. Tired from reduced sleep, yet I seem to have so much more energy than normal. Energy that is helpful for thinking through what needs to happen, double checking things after being easily distracted, making arrangements, making lists.
This energy seems to be swept along and shaped by what’s happening around me. My family, and work, are calm so this energy is mainly good but it could easily go off track.
While driving to work I sang along with Joe Jackson’s “Is she really going out with him?”. My emotions so quickly got wrapped up in the anger of the song. I’m not really angry, but I wouldn’t recommend including me in religious or political discussions for a while…
As soon as the phrase ‘parents live’ left my mouth a mental autocorrect screached ‘WRONG! should be – mum lives - mum, mum, just MUM, you don’t have parents now’. I just continued without adjusting my mistake, hoping that I was the only one who noticed this inaccuracy. Mental autocorrect is overreacting slightly. It should be a bit kinder in it’s correction message, I’m not deaf or stupid, just prone to a comfortable, life-long used reference habit.
I’ve noticed mum using the current tense, talking about ‘we‘ in contexts where ‘I’ would now be more accurate. I hope her mental autocorrect is kinder than mine.
I go to the local Chinese take-away for some lovely food, I think of Dad because he liked to treat mum to a Chinese take-away meal on Friday night. I smile. Not an activity that prompted this thought during his life.
Goodness, so many things prompt thoughts that affirm who dad was, things he did. I notice the way I stand when I’m listening to a story, I stand like dad. I’d never noticed before. I hear my voice as I laugh and I hear the faint echo of his intonation. I never noticed while he was alive.
I welcome these spontaneously intrusive thoughts, they are beautiful intrusions, it’s as if my mind is trying to let me know how alike we are, how together we’ll always be. It’s saying,
“don’t worry, you have always been together and you always will be. He’s part of you”
The thoughts often arrive when I’m in the company of others. I say nothing and let the thought roll. I suspect my continually adding “My dad used to…..” to conversations would upset and begin to bore the people I’m talking with. With family it’s different, mumsie happily chatters about dad which I find comforting and I happily join in. My brothers are relatively silent on the topic, their silence makes me suspect they are finding the experience more painful than I.
- Avoid buying new shoes before, or while on holiday. I like to do a lot of walking when on holiday and this can lead to new-shoe breaking in blisters….
- Never buy new clothes in advance of travelling (except shoes)
- Pack stuff that you know you won’t bring back like teabags, sanitary towels, gifts for friends – this gives you space to bring-back different things without overpacking for the return journey
- Pack your tatty old underwear, wear it, chuck it. Buy new underwear while on holiday. Always an entertaining experience, especially if there’re significant language barriers and sizing differences
- Under pack on ‘nice’ clothes and pick yourself a treat while you’re there, as a holiday memento. If you’re travelling outside of the UK it’s likely to result in cheaper, better quality and much more interesting clothing additions
- Only take one pair of spectacles and one hat (I normally fail at doing this)
I managed to get all my gear (technology and chargers included) for my 3 week 50th birthday USA tour into one bag, hand luggage size. There was some sitting on the case involved. Will the case survive the journey… …will it get a friend?
A little space in my entrance hall is aching for a cupboard. I carried a tape-measure in my pocket for 5 years, diligently measuring every small cupboard I encountered. Like Goldilocks uncovering non-conformity problems:
- Too tall - block the hall window light
- Too deep – block the kitchen door opening
- Too wide – block the front door opening
I learned to see ‘wrong size’ at a distance, I stopped measuring and hope gradually dwindled. The space in my hall gradually attracted stacks of practical boxes. As I walked by them I thought ‘crazy box woman’ and sighed. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling a disproportionate pleasure from finding durable, functional, beautiful home storage solutions.
Then while off to buy some food I walked passed this in a shop window display.
It looked right. I got excited as I slipped out my tape-measure to check I wasn’t fantasizing. Yes! It fits just right. It’s sturdy, the colour compliments the room. Purchase made, delivery arranged. What I didn’t check was whether it was self assembly or not, but that’s another 4 hour story….
Colleague: Do you know how that sounds?
Wendy: yes (giggles)
The next morning I fought procrastination and took a trip to buy some bulbs. At the store I realised that I didn’t know what size or fitting to buy. I plumped for the ‘common’ size and bayonet fitting.
I found a screwdriver to open the sealed bathroom light fitting and a bar stool to stand on, then started fiddling. I managed to open the fitting without breaking the glass cover, remove the blown bulbs, then notice the bulbs were the unusually small screw fittings – not what I’d bought. A quick scout around the house uncovered a couple of small screw fitting bulbs in my bedside table lamps. Phew. Easier to go to bed in the dark than bathe in the dark. Screw fit bulbs in place and bathroom light fitting reconstituted.
Just call me capable. Even without the aid of power tools.
Dutch colleague: Where do you live in England?
Wendy: Reading town
Dutch colleague: and your family?
Wendy: No, they live in Bristol (notices the look of shock, or horror, on the Dutch native’s face). My family are mainly my parents
Statistically speaking a girl of my age is likely to have been married at least once and given birth at least once. ‘My family’ has changed in the mind of my peers from primarily being parents and siblings to primarily being partner and children. I’ve been a bit slow to catch-up on this shift because for me my family has remain relatively (pause to appreciate double meaning) static as everyone’s parents and siblings, plus the nieces…..
Statistics are often a poor way to make assumptions about individual cases…..anticipating variance and diversity is rewarding….
First touch, your skin meets mine.
- A hand offered to help climb a wall
- The exchange of change in a bar or shop
- A child taking your hand
- A tap on the arm to silently draw your attention to something
- Handing something over, a book, a computer, a mug of tea
It’s electric, creating a warm fizz throughout my body. A beautiful thing amongst new friends, memorable and fizzy. If there’s something more than friendship on my mind it can be like the 4th of July, a full fireworks display ignited by a silent, fleeting touch. It’s an effective way of silencing me. I can’t pull a sentence together with all those noisy fireworks filling my mind. There’s silence while they fade and the moment is left behind. There can only ever be one first touch. But there can be so many other ‘firsts’ that ignite many a firework display.
Bags come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I often find myself wondering - what’s in that bag? Normally I try to carry stuff in my pockets to minimalist the risk of my loosing things (a bag) by accidentally leaving it somewhere. When I do take a personal bag this is normally what it contains. A bit too much….
- Silver card case
- Pack of 3 different nabbed precision pens
- Nokia Lumina
- Emergency tactics
- Unlined sketch/note book
- 2 charger cables – for the phones
- Camera (that makes 3 cameras in total including the phones)
The extra camera will get ditched. Getting photographs from the phones to this blog is a rather tedious experience at the moment. I doubt companies will improve that for me. I can’t find a way to embed my SkyDrive pictures here yet, so I’m sticking with Flickr for the moment.
The WordPress blogging interface does not work easily from the Surface. I’ll be investing a bit more time into learning the Surface controls. I suspect there may be some hidden controls…..
You’re not quite as wild as your hairstyle suggests
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.
While I was busy extolling the unpredictable behaviour of Twitter, this year’s intern-
sometimes you sound just like my mother
Probably not a reference to mother’s wisdom. But we were able to agree that I have an amazing ability to
empathise with non-technical people while simultaneously predicting where Microsoft have hidden valuable features
There’s something rather disturbing about the name “Butcher works“. Apparently it’s “one of the most important surviving cutlery and grinding workshops“. They would have made knives at the Butcher works.
There’s something inspiring about “Challenge works“. The Challenge works in Arundel Street is described in it’s listing as “an edge tool manufactory with workshops, office and warehouse, appears to have rapidly evolved into a multi-occupancy site, with an electro-plating company sharing the site in 1888. The Goad Fire Insurance plan of 1896 identifies various trades being carried out on site, and the presence of tool forges set behind the street frontage range, itself identified as office and warehouse… …a significant survival in a once densely populated manufacturing quarter of Sheffield”
There’s something very reassuring about being told that “Universe Works” The only online references for it are to rent apartments. as a downtown residence in a converted industrial building I suspect this address is now high chic.
The “Gibson works” is also a listed building, it was originally a ‘Pewter’ works built in the late 19th Century.
‘Works’, both a noun and a verb. Lets take a moment to establish that “wendy house works” because we are and we do.
- Fat. Boyfriend told me that I shouldn’t order that peace of cheesecake because I was fat (5″6, 7 stone 6lbs). I was used to him calling me fat, I’d always assumed it was his wry sense of humour because I so clearly wasn’t fat. His best friend’s wife overheard his comment and treated it as if it was genuine. She passionately told him off for being irresponsible, called me borderline anorexic and that I should be encouraged to eat rather than starve myself. He squirmed, he didn’t claim to be joking. I realised that he actually meant it. From that moment onwards I questioned my interpretation of his humour and began to see that he was a rather mean spirited person. It was the beginning of the end of our relationship.
- Stupid. I asked my ‘A’ level maths teacher for help interpreting an applied maths question. I showed him the diagram of forces acting on a ladder that I’d drawn to try and help. He pulled my workbook from me, held it up to the rest of the class (all male) and said “this is the type of diagram I’d expect from a female“. I was humiliated and really upset by this aggressive demeaning act from a teacher I’d asked for help. With unusual focus I said “If you make one more sexist remark I’m leaving because they’re not helping“. He replied with “Typical emotional outbust from a female“. I walked out of the class in tears. Later that evening my parents took me aside and told me that the headmaster had phoned them to tell them that I’d been upsetting my maths teacher and creating scenes. It was the moment that I realised that adult men in influential positions will construct situations to demean and disable women merely because they are women. Before then I’d been discriminated against but never in an overtly malicious manner. That no one stood-up to ask me what happened or defend me was also a big eye-opener. This one event lead to a series of follow-on significant events including my getting a grade A mathematics A level, and a science based PhD. Ironically it was my need to prove, to myself, that I wasn’t the stupid person that some influential people declared me to be.
Being called fat, and, or stupid doesn’t seem like a big deal. but it’s unhelpful and mean spirited.
Be helpful, not mean.
I have a rather loud laugh.
It’s a house family trait. My laugh is demure compared to my brothers. Bros 57 can silence a large noisy pub with one lashing of his laughter, his style is somewhat reminiscent of Jimmy Carr – with more volume:
I love my loud laugh. Not everyone does:
- In cinemas people will tap my on the shoulder and ask me to keep the noise down. Have you every tried to down-volume your laugh? I don’t even bother to try, I apologise for disrupting their enjoyment then continue with my own, unabashed, feeling pity for them that they can’t enjoy my laughter.
- In restaurants peers have asked me to keep the noise down because I’m disrupting the enjoyment of people at other tables and drawing attention to our table. Again, I’ll apologise and wonder at how these people can feel such a strong need to ask me to conform with a perceived need to be seen, but not heard enjoying yourself.
- A lady in the office next door came round to complain that she couldn’t hear her telephone conversation when I was laughing. I apologised for the noise level and suggested that she consider investing in a headset.
I was regularly asked to be THE AUDIENCE for full dress rehearsals by a Theatre company. Free theatre! My laugh was big enough for me to mimic a whole audience! The actors were able to adjust their timing to deal with likely audience noise levels.
One friend commented on how she envied my ability to laugh so genuinely, so unaffected by the people around me. How sad that her happiness was stifled by her respect for other people’s right to be not-offended by it. People who ask other people to moderate their laughter volume are to be pitied. I do try to moderate when I laugh to be socially acceptable, but not the volume….
Ear-bashing happiness or hand-muffled silence
I’ll be 50 in November
I’m celebrating by doing something that would have inspired me as a teenager: Driving the original Route 66 in a convertible. Flights and car booked today. Before the internet existed, I purchased paper versions of original maps. Finally, I’ll get to use them!
Friends will be meeting me before the journey, travelling part of the journey with me, and afterwards celebrating in my old home town of Seattle. Finding a convertible to rent in Chicago, in late October, is not an easy task. So there’s already been some hard work and I’ve compromised. No Mustang…..
EXCITED levels are vibrating towards amber
Between now and October I’m collecting potential sights and stops on a Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/thewendyhouse/route-66/
I’m not alone in seeking out something more substantially hot in bed than a hot water bottle. The online product reviews were posted by people over 55 years old – it’s better than their last electric blanket, it’s the best electric blanket they’ve ever owned. …ooOOoo…
It’s sold out online. I take ‘please me now’ action and walk to the local store. Yes. Satisfaction. My first ever electric blanket joins the single-skin brick wendy house. My bed has become cosy incorporated.
Retail manager (1989-1991) aka ‘Saturday girl’
This job helped to top-up my PhD grant while I was studying full time. I was the only employee of an antiques clothes shop. Having a Saturday girl meant that Val, the owner, could have a day off.
My Saturdays were spent ironing, mending and making adjustments to antique clothes, then doing the weekly accounts at the end of the day. We didn’t have a till. We had a metal box with a key. I used a paper pad with a pen and a ruler to list items sold and write and sign receipts. Despite the overhead of all this writing at the point of sale, cashing up didn’t take long. There weren’t many sales. Look how neat the shop rails are – a sure sign of very few customers!:
They would see my genuine joy when they came into the tiny shop. I’d look up from the sewing machine or ironing board, welcome them, offer them a cup of tea, then go back to whatever I was doing – if they clearly wanted to browse alone.
Some people would happily chat about the styles and period clothes they liked, asking questions about the clothes and the business. Some customers asked for jobs – as I had once done. All our few customers stayed a long time browsing. Some customers would travel long distances, over 50 miles, to visit us because of our unique and interesting stock. I like to think our friendly style also helped.
If customers were actually thinking of buying something, and it didn’t fit, I’d fit them for adjustments – pin the clothes – agree a price. I could make the changes on the spot in the shop while they browsed further and drank tea. Lovely. I loved the shop and the job. We had some customers that came in every Saturday, they were more like friends. I’d been a Saturday customer before I got the job. It was having tea with Val and talking to her about her stock and business that had lead to my getting the job, I’d persuaded Val to employ me.
At 5.15pm Val would roll in to cash up for the week and get the weeks takings to the bank. She’d pour two large glasses of white wine, bring out an ash tray, and light a cigarette. That’s Val sat infront of the sewing machine waving her fag at me.
With the shop closed I’d do the paper accounts for the weeks takings in the notebook. Not part of my job, but Val said she wasn’t very good at adding-up numbers which was all that I had to do. Easy.
As I counted the cash and checked it against the notes for the week Val would enlighten a 26 year old me with her 36 years of life wisdom. This wisdom mainly involved different ways of taking revenge against the married men she’d had affairs with. They were juicey stories and quite shocking to think she actually did those things. She explained that these men were responsible for ruining her life by lying to her about their intentions to leave their wives, that kind of behaviour needed severe punishment and she delivered it.
I made a couple of mental notes:
- Know lovers for who they are, rather than what I want them to be….
- Don’t upset Val, she’s capable of pure evil