Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Career Woman versus Kept Woman

Have any of you ever worked in a kindegarten? Or a zoo? Or even a loony bin? Well, I am unfortunately in the position of working for an amalgamation of all three which masquerades as the Retail and Online Marketing department of a large pharmaceutical company in the UK.

I have six immediate female colleagues and one male boss. He hides in a goldfish bowl behind us and never hears the cacophony of burping, belching, farting, impressions of Borat, choruses of Fraggle Rock and the ubiquitous 'baby talk' which comes mainly from my 30-year old 'assistant' (I use that term very loosely - if she understood the meaning of the word, no doubt she would choose to ignore it in favour of sucking her thumb).

She is not one of the slimmest girls, nor was she first in the queue when God was handing out good looks. Consequently, she garners attention by behaving like a two year old having a temper tantrum most of the time. In order to show she is happy, she skips her 20 stone frame down the corridor, singing songs from The Muppet Show (her relatives, probably), which makes my coffee pound in a way reminiscent of the glass of water in Jurassic Park when the T-Rex is on its way. If she is cross that we are not paying her attention, she falls off her chair in the middle of the room and petulantly pouts, You weren't listening to me! Look what I had to do!
I've even known her to faint when she trapped her finger in a door. Poof? Probably...Put on? Yup...

I feel like ramming my fist into her mouth half the time, and I deem myself a bit of a pacifist, deep down...

Another girl suffers with IBS and don't we know about it! We hear, in minute detail, about her daily bowel movements, smell and hear her flatulence problems, and are subjected to her medical history with vivid, gesticulative accounts. She is marrying her long-term partner in July. I guess OK! magazine will hear about it at some point, because, by Christ, we do, in stultifyingly dull detail, every five minutes. I, conversely, keep my mouth well shut about my own nuptials. Nobody knows much about my wedding, apart from the date and venue, and none of them are getting an invitation, either, let alone organising a Hen Night for me.

If I am asked about my own arrangements, and answer honestly, I discover next day, that she has done the same, but bigger and better. Boring? Yes. Irritating? Most definitely. Resolving to keep my mouth firmly closed? Absolutely.

She bought her wedding dress a few weeks ago. It fits her perfectly, we are led to believe. However, oddly, she is now trying to get pregnant. Now, call me old fashioned, but weren't children supposed to traditionally come after the wedding? And is there anything more off-putting than seeing a Bride, in virginal white, waddling down the aisle with a 6-month lump protruding from her dress? Yes, I know it's the 21st century, but I know what looks good and what doesn't!

Then we have Animal. I call her that in my own head because she reminds me of Animal, the Muppet drummer. She even talks like him when she is on the phone to her father. She has a very chequered love life which involves jealous lesbian ex-wives, homeless criminals, men on the verge of drawing their pension, and her most recent, a white Aborigine (her words, due to his plethora of tattoos). She regales us with her most recent 'romantic' mishaps (again, I use that word loosely because any story of love punctuated with every expletive known to man doesn't exactly conjure up images of doves, red roses and Barbara Cartland to me) in an exceptionally loud voice every Monday morning. I find them amusing to a degree, and somewhat smug in that I have been lucky enough to only ever get embroiled with peaceful loonies as opposed to violent ones. There but for the grace of God go I, I guess...

Out of the other three females, one is part-time, a new mother, and exceptionally quiet. I like her. Another is a middle-aged harridan who has had a sense of humour bypass and has become a bit of a diet bore. She goes on a new diet every month and has lost a grand total of 3lb. The last girl makes me laugh, but has a tendency to get rather over-emotional from time to time and can take off into day-long crying sessions. It must be her hormones, I reckon.

The boss is the best of them all. He possesses a fantastic sense of humour, is one of the laziest blokes I have ever met, wants us all to do his work for him, and effs and blinds like a Merchant Seaman. For some reason, he appears to view me as 'One of The Lads' as opposed to one of his 'Bitches'. He also told me at my staff review that he found me one of the scariest women he had ever met - Psycho Hose Beast were his exact words, which threw me marginally, until I recovered and held a carving knife to his throat until he retracted.
I've never had a boss like this before, and I would be very, very loathe to leave him...

And then there's me: The Techy Freak. That is their name for me because I understand what an XML feed is, I know how to write in HTML and I remember ALT functions. I also say very little because I realise that my sense of humour simply wouldn't be understood by them and it is easier to keep my thoughts to myself than to attempt to make some intelligently witty remark which would only be assimilated if they could interpret words of more than one syllable.

I actually enjoy my job - it is stimulating, full of new things to learn, and fantastic opportunities to develop oneself, but I cannot abide working with Morons. You never know until you get there, though, do you?

I continue to press home to Mr Parsnip that I would make a fantastic Retro Housewife as I enjoy having a clean home, can bake bread as well as The Dough Boy, and would love to wear gingham dresses, and sport a demiwave and bright red, indelible lipstick. I can also grow my own vegetables, shoot and gut pigeons, and dig over gardens, all whilst wearing aforesaid gingham frock. He doesn't seem to take the hint, so if there are any gents out there who fancy making me their 'kept woman', drop me a message with an outline of your earning potential, your bank account details and PIN number, as well as a photograph, and I shall assess your competency as My Hero and let you know...

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Driving Me To Madness...

There is a TV programme in the UK called Top Gear, presented by James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard (the Hamster) Hammond which I watch on a fairly regular basis since the installment of Mr Parnsip in the house.

It's all about cars: sexy cars; sleek cars; sports cars - cars which I covet. Now, I am not a petrol head by any stretch of the imagination, but when I lived in Oman, as cars were so cheap out there, I was lucky enough to own two Jeeps - a Grand, and a Regular Skinny Low Fat - amongst others, as well as having the loan of a Mini Cooper S for a long weekend which I razzed up and down the highway until Sultan Qaboos himself was sick and tired of seeing this blue bottle zipping around.

But for someone who does like a jolly nice car, I don't especially like driving. And this is for a number of reasons:
a) I get severe road rage when somebody is doing max 5mph below the speed limit unless there is a jolly good reason for it: old age and learner drivers do not constitute good reasons to me, I'm afraid.
b) I am a bit night blind since I had my eyes lasered for short-sightedness and find myself slamming on my brakes when driving along dark country lanes, of which there are many near where I live (this is, however, a 'jolly good reason' cf (a)).
c) I always, but always, get hopelessly lost when having to drive to a new place.

Yes, yes, I know. There are these wonderful gadgets called SatNavs which you can install into your vehicle, but I know that the only way I would get one due to their cost would be for a birthday or Christmas and I am buggered if I am going to accept a gadget when I could have shoes, jewels, candles or toiletries.

Yesterday, I had the 'pleasure' of driving to Leamington Spa in Warwickshire to attend an Adobe Photoshop course for work. Having previously been quietly excited about it, I was devastated to learn that Mr Parsnip had discovered a similar course being held at our local college, three miles away, for a fraction of the price. The thought of driving 200 miles, round trip, was anathaema to my soul.

A work colleague was accompanying me and she was charged with navigating our route from supposedly very concise directions I had printed from AA.Com. Don't ever use AA.Com. They are rubbish.

She was rubbish, too. We had a dead straight route down the M6 and all she had to do was look out for the A452. She missed the turning, thus did I, and we ended up driving 5 miles down a road with no junctions, plenty of speed cameras, and lots of police until I could do a very illegal U-turn, shriek with fear, swear a blue streak, and get back to the roundabout where we should have taken the A road turning.

This was where it all went really wrong due to the AA's directions. The A452 didn't take us to Leamington such as it suggested using their 'take a right at the pillar box with the dog poo sticker on the front' and 'left at the off license which sells Carling Black Label to underage school children'. No. It took us into Loonyville country where everyone was rake thin, wore blusher up to their browline, stared at us as though we bore wellies on our heads and missed out numbered junctions on their Motorways.

I ended up on a Motorway heading for London. I got on at junction 14, aiming for junction 15. As I got on, I had a horrible realisation that the next one might not be 15 - it could quite easily be 13. As chance would have it, the next junction was 12. Eh? My forehead knitted in consternation. Was I dreaming? OK, I was obviously heading the wrong way, but had I just gone through a time warp? Saying many silent prayers to my Guardian Angel that coming off at J12 would at least allow me to get onto the opposite carriageway and thus find J15, we got on at J13. Eh? again. How could J12 suddenly morph into J13? I drove along, peering at each blue sign, hoping that even though we were already very late, that the Tutor would understand that you can't be 'later than late' and empathise with my dreadful navigator and my complete panic attacks.

There was no J14.

Either I am going barmy, or some Civil Engineer is playing a trick on unsuspecting, crap drivers, like me. I suspect the latter, to be perfectly honest with you...

I set off from my course in driving rain and a howling gale. I missed the turning for the A46 which my tutor had painstakingly explained and drawn for me. I ended up on the A45 which is painfully slow due to the lights at every 100 yards (I almost wrote 'years' then, which was obviously a Freudian slip), all of which were against me. Red, Red, Red. No wonder I never wear that colour, even though it suits my Raven Beauty hair dye...

I was supposed to return to the course this morning but due to personal issues (a mild nervous breakdown, some harsh critics might suggest), I was unable. My only relief at bombing the course was avoiding the journey. I was also supposed to attend a Flash Animation course at the same centre on Thursday and Friday. Thankfully, I have rescheduled this until May and I shall most definitely take up the company's offer of bed and board for the night.

When will somebody invent a Tardis for eejits like me?

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Second Time Lucky?

As our two readers are aware, Mr Parsnip proposed to me on 5 November 2007. As none of you are aware, we have set our wedding date for 19 April 2008. To this end, most evenings and weekends are a social whirl of meeting photographers, wedding planners at hotels, registrars, florists, chauffeurs and hairdressers. It’s all a bit alien to me, to be honest, and I have taken a bit of a back seat, really, allowing Mr P to take command and be masterful, as he is My Hero. Don’t puke…it is what I say to him when I am being sarcastic…

I was married once before, as you both know – hence, Hex My Ex. That wedding was totally organised by me under the strict monetary guidance of Anal, the ex. As I couldn’t organise a Piss Up In A Brewery, you can imagine that it was a bit of a Mickey Mouse affair. Everything was done on the cheap – marrying a staunch Yorkshireman with his eye on the purse strings and having an interfering mother who demanded that I bought a pink nylon lace wedding dress from Albert’s Stall on the Market and marry over the anvil at the Blacksmith's in her village made me feel as though I had to save as much money as possible – even my underwear was bought from Oxfam…(that’s a fib, to be perfectly honest!).

Our wedding rings were the first saving: he had been jilted the year before and had kept the bands and engagement ring which was returned when she declared that she couldn’t marry the most selfish man she had ever met. I also had a wedding band passed down to me from a deceased relative. So, into the melting pot they all went and two new bands were created. Were they already hexed? I was even offered the former fiancĂ©es engagement ring until the ex realised that he could get a better deal by pulling an insurance scam, obtaining a new ring and flogging it to raise funds. As a bit of a nube, I concurred to his initial suggestion and wore aforesaid ring until his bright idea pinged into life.

I worked as a personal tax consultant at the time and two of my clients were in the bridal industry. So off I went to see them, offering to get them as much of a tax rebate as was possible if they could do me a deal on my dress and flowers. I ended up with a dress, which wasn’t my first choice due to costs, looked like a meringue with a dash of squirty cream, and the tackiest silk flower bouquet known to man. The ex deemed fresh flowers a waste of money, and at least the silk ones ‘would keep’.

Next up, the wedding breakfast…we went to a local pub, Harewood House, which is quite a pretty place and booked the cheapest set menu offered. I think the menu consisted of Heinz tomato soup, Bernard Matthews roast chicken and Chivers jelly…maybe not, but you get the picture. The ex refused to shell out for champagne so we went to Food Giant, bought their cheapest Asti Spumante and then got charged £7 per bottle, corkage. He saved £10 per bottle by doing that.

Our wedding vehicle was a Mercedes. It was actually quite nice and one of the few things for which we paid full price, in effect. But as it was only driving us for approximately six miles round trip, they discounted that for us, too.

The photographer was an old buddy of his grandfather and smelt dreadfully, but gave a discount. Many of my photographic proofs show me wincing in distaste at his BO. Thankfully, the distant shots were OK and we just about managed to garner an album’s worth. Ever frugal, the ex ‘hired’ his mate to video the whole shebang. Phil, who had never used a video camera in his life thought that if the camera was turned on its side, a ‘portrait’ view would be seen. For the first 20 minutes, we are all horizontal. We have a scene of me sneaking a cigarette from Phil’s wife horizontally, attempting to keep it secret as my parents didn’t know I smoked at the time, and thus expostulating to Phil to clear off in case the evidence was filmed; we have the ex sneaking horizontally behind the graves at the back of the church to urinate which caused me so much embarrassment I cannot tell you how much I remonstrated with him afterwards; we have the most excruciating Best Man’s speech, vertically, which bangs on about aforesaid ex visiting prostitutes in Paris, of which I was not aware until that point in time; and we have me permanently holding my hand in front of my dress, both horizontally and vertically, as, when I got into the car, the hoop caused the skirt to hit my mouth and a smeary pink stain can be seen with the naked eye from space.


Mr P wants this wedding to be special. He claims I am ‘special’ because I went to a special school and thus, we deserve it. I think he is right, actually. It has been a bit of an effort not to suggest traipsing off to the Charity Shops for a second hand wedding gown, and to go to the local pub for our ‘do’, but I am reigning in my pennywise attitude to a greater degree.

So, I have the gown of my dreams; the bridesmaids, #1 and #2 are kitted out in ‘cappuccino’ coloured dresses, despite #2 wanting to wear combats and camouflage teamed with wellies; we have a fantastic venue which is palatial, yet elegant and discreet; we have matching wedding bands which are unique to us; and we have Sir Matt ChingduvĂ© as my giving away chappy as my parents no longer talk to me because I decided to live my own life instead of theirs.

One of my main concerns is not to fluff the first dance. Mr P has booked us some private dancing lessons. I can only hope and pray that my two left feet don’t let me down…

My other concern is whether Mr P wants to become Mr Charles Mildew…!