Monday, 31 March 2008

Boinnnggg

Ah, well, I guess spring has arrived, or at least British Summer Time has begun. Sunday, of course, it didn't make a great deal of difference - all we did was visit the supermarket, and clearly it makes little difference if one gets there at 11:30 or 12:30.

I was reminded, fleetingly, of my time in Oxford when it became something of a ritual to visit the pub (whose name I have long since forgotten) which lay on the towpath at Iffley Lock. The catalyst for lighter nights and warmer weather.

Lazy day for us, then, although I had to fill out my VAT return, and this coupled with a load of other "admin" work took up most of the evening, such that by 11:30pm (10:30pm in old money) I was ready for bed.

Getting to bed so late, however, had implications for getting up this morning. Difficult, very difficult. It was dark outside once again, and the one clock we had forgotten to bring forward was the central heating timer, so there was a definite chill in the air. A good snooze on the train gained a partial respite, although at one stage I woke myself up by snoring, so how much respite was gained by my fellow passengers, it is hard to say!

We're off to France in a couple of weeks, and I am tentatively going to make another bold purchase, since both Alice and I could do with new bikes and the range at Decathlon is pretty good. So, I'll see if we can't pick them up while we're there. I feel quite brave since I am stretching my knowledge of the French language, but it feels good nevertheless. Plus, I am emboldened by my other recent achievement of booking a thalassotherapy visit for Jacqueline. The centre proudly announced on their web site that English was spoken, but after three of four rounds of fruitless emails (in English) I reverted to French and with just two more emails I had found out what treatments were available, and booked one of them.

But I suppose that's France for us. Reminds me, actually, that one of the consultants I work with, a guy from Aus/South Africa who's making the most of his stay in Europe, went over to some Alpine resort recently and was totally flummoxed by the fact that even in the Tourist Information office, which was packed with English-speakers, the only language spoken by the staff was French.

But as I say, that's France for you. Certainly I'm not complaining or I wouldn't visit several times per year. Personally as someone who regards himself as non-conformist, I think it is great the way they fight to preserve their national identity against all the odds.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Easter

Quiet Easter weekend, bitterly cold with even some snowfall, though far too wet to stick. Four days off, a full three of which were spent relaxing at home. The fourth I was a little more active, and can at least claim to have generated the details to allow the accountant to draw up last year's accounts - only five months after year end!

One thing I did do, I was playing with the zoom lens on the camera, and I took a photo of the boy cat in which he looked so regal it was unbelievable. He's a real beauty, but its still Maisie who I wake up next to each morning!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Too good to be true?

About time for an update. After the heady heights of going out the previous weekend, last weekend was dull by comparison. On the plus side, though, I took two trailer-loads of rubbish to the tip, including the washing machine which has been sitting on the driveway since it packed up just before christmas.

The electrics still aren't right on the trailer. Well, they are, but it takes a lot of fiddling with the connection before all the lights work properly. I don't really understand since it is quite a tight-fitting plug.

So yesterday was our ninth wedding anniversary. Very low-key, but at least this year we both remembered. Jacqueline, of course, got her fleece (in the end, including conversion rates, delivery, duty and VAT, the pair of fleeces cost in the region of £300 - somewhat more expensive than I had hoped!) Complaining about how difficult I am to buy for, we went into Waterstones at the weekend, where my present became Nelson Mandela's Long Walk Home, something that has been in my Amazon basket for years but which I've always "saved for later".

On the subject of books, I have read a couple of excellent ones recently, which deserve their own post at some point.

Funny thing happened at the clients, almost out of the blue they offered to increase the fees they pay for my consultancy services. Basically someone has terminated, so the client is recruiting. During the course of this, some dozy agent called me to pitch the work to me, and of course I seized the opportunity to find out what they were offering. Turns out it was quite a lot, especially considering the rather menial services any consultant would be required to perform.

Anyway, I mentioned to the client that someone had pitched the role to me. Then, two things happened. First, not entirely unexpected, they got in touch with the agent in question, had a right go at them and ended up pulling all the roles. More surprisingly, they obviously realised that I'd been told the rate on offer. So they said to me, "If I were you, I'd be really pissed off that we're prepared to pay that much for services that are far inferior to the ones you offer." To be honest, it hadn't really crossed my mind - the fees that consultants command are, in my experience, in no way proportional to the services they offer. There are lots of other factors involved, and to be honest you'd end up slashing your wrists if you let these things get to you.

But, off the back of this, they offered a rise. Of course, to a certain extent it is blood money, inasmuch as their main concern in all of this, even though they underplayed it, was to make sure that the fees information did not become public knowledge. This in itself tells a story.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Anon

For some reason I got talking to the missus last night, can't remember exactly what about, but basically we worked out that when Jacqueline Googled herself, Google reached straight into my blog. She spent the next two hours reading the innermost secrets of my life, looking at photos of Barney (the cat who died 2 1/2 years ago), the pictures of Carlo as a kitten (from almost 2 years ago) etc. etc. I never thought I was that interesting - I wonder if she learned anything?

Very boringly, when I google myself I am reminded that there is a moderately famous organist called Peter Hurford, and anything to do with me doesn't appear until Page 14 of the search results. Truly anonymous, that's me.