And what about the vacation?
It was great. But I'm so glad to be back on firma terra cotta.
Friday, July 29, 2005
While I've been mulling over my job prospects this week, I have been visiting a whole range of job-related websites and recruitment agencies. Verging on desperate at times, I have been entering some rather un-Gab criteria into the search engines.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
I have been corresponding the last few days with a very good friend, who has recently made some revelations that suggest some of her family members were mixed up in the crazy world of European wartime espionnage. And it got me thinking - do I have what it takes to be an ASIO or MI6 recruit?
Okay so we don't have to think too hard about that one.
But it's not that I don't have the requisite skills. Rather, I think it's just because the intelligence organisations are simply too picky. Consider the evidence, if you will. On the face of it, I think I look pretty good - but probing a bit deeper (and we know how the spies love to probe!), you'll find:
- I am fluent in three languages
Granted it is a well-known fact that the initial reason Kate and I learned our foreign languages was so we could be trophy wives for rich French counts. Probably not something that ASIO would find appropriate.
- I am IT savvy
Far from being able to hack into sophisticated military defence systems, I'm more interested in blogging, doing online crosswords, and working out the latest in the TomKat sham.
- I will take your personal secrets to the grave
But not because I am the very soul of discretion, merely because I have a memory like a sieve and am likely to forget something you've told me the minute I hear it.
- I know things
I may not be able to erect a tent, or converse with you about communism, or identify the Sultan of Burundi in a line-up, but the knowledge I do have will make your head spin. I can tell you the names of all the Beverly Hills 90210 characters, and sing the entire Bon Jovi back catalogue, and I can have the "M&Ms: Peanut versus Plain" debate until I'm hoarse.
I may be more of a Secret Squirrel than James Bond, but in a cute trench coat and mask (plus sparkly handbag to match), I could be pretty wily. And it's always the ones you least expect, remember.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Having overdosed on gangster-style violence in the last few days, courtesy of Don Corleone and his hired goons, I feel the need to immerse myself in something a little less brutal. And a little less related to jam making and other freakishly domestic pursuits.
Responsibility for that had to fall to Charlotte Bronte or Lewis Carroll and it was the latter that won out.
So I have started reading Alice In Wonderland. It's pretty hallucinogenic stuff - has anyone ever mentioned that? Talking mice, smoking caterpillars, dodo birds. The whole gang of extra-sensory lunacy is there. I don't know, maybe I'm cheapening the fantasty of it, but I'm not used to this make-believe stuff. But I will persevere. The Bronte book had too many pages.
When I was back at home, getting rejected for a job felt like my life was over. Nine times out of ten, I'd put so much effort into the job application, that being told I didn't have a chance at the position (much less an interview) felt like a personal affront and took a while to recover from.
In the early days when I moved to the UK, I applied for so many jobs in such quick succession that I was perversely grateful when the rejections came through. It meant I didn't have to make a commitment about where to live, where to work. It also meant I could delay getting stuck in that 9-5 rut that I knew so well.
But now that I've semi-settled in Scotland, and in somewhat desperate need of cash, I'm starting to think differently about the replies (read: rejections) that have been filling my email inbox. I'm feeling flattened under the sheer weight of them. I'm not even being invited for an interview - despite the clear indication in my CV that I would be willing to relocate to just about anywhere in Europe for the chance to work at something substantial.
In rejecting me, the recruitment people are being polite but dismissive. I know I could seek feedback on the thinking behind each rejection, but I don't know how to ask without sounding defensive. I suspect that I'm perceived to be doing the typical Australian-on-a-working-holiday thing. I'm concerned that they're not keen to give me a job because I don't look like someone who'll stick around. But surely that's not fair? And particularly irrelevant when I've been applying for short-term stints like maternity cover placements and contract posts.
Does anyone have any ideas about how I get to the root of this problem without sounding like I have sour grapes, or accusing them of Antipodean discrimination?
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I can’t recall ever having seen a gooseberry before I arrived in Scotland. I think that if I had encountered it ‘in the wild’ I never would have thought you could eat it. To me, a gooseberry looks like a cross between an eyeball and a hairy green grape. Something you’d throw at someone you didn’t like much, not necessarily something you’d choose to eat.
Needless to say, I was not inclined to sample one last night. And it’s weird, because normally I’m quite courageous with my diet. In truth, I think it’s the fact that the berries were green that turned me off. Did that mean they were unripe? I didn’t think to ask Betty at the time. Maybe you make gooseberry jam with unripe berries, I don’t know. Maybe gooseberries go green when they ripen - oh there are so many things I clearly have to learn.
In any case, I didn’t try a berry last night while supervising Jam Production Stage One. Instead I left that to Armand, who crept into the kitchen like the wee sneak he is, and slyly gobbled some of the berries we’d so carefully measured into ice-cream containers. After some yelling and exasperated fist-shaking at the sky, all much to Armand’s amusement of course, we re-measured the berries and were back in business. I think I was promoted from Passive Observer to Gooseberry Guard from that point onwards.
So now we’re at the stage where the jam production begins in earnest. I’m talking about a massive saucepan on the stove, and so much sugar to pour into it that my teeth hurt at the mere thought. Still, while I was too cowardly to try the gooseberry in its ‘natural’ state, something tells me I’ll slap the gooey, jammy goodness on some toast no worries at all!
Monday, July 25, 2005
Friday, July 22, 2005
What with all the crap that London has been going through over the last 48 hours, the Paisley Police Force is out in full today. The High Street is therefore more congested than usual. But do you think the residents are on high alert? Hell no. They are certainly not alarmed by the increased police presence. The same old aimless wandering is going on, as usual.
I'd like to think that this is a silent en masse thumb-nosing at the terrorists, a mass show of support for the We're Not Afraid campaign. But alas, I fear that would be giving credit where it is definitely not due. I'd be surprised if these locals had even heard of the anti-terrorism initiative taking their country, if not the world, by storm.
I hate lunch hour shopping with a passion. Hated it at home, and hate it here. But it's the only time that office workers really have to get things done. But do you think that the old farts, young mums with prams, and snotty brats, realise this? No. Or perhaps they do, and they're trying to tell me not to work in an office on such a beautiful day, and instead get out in the sunshine and amble, at a snail's pace, down the High Street all day? Smug bastards.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I think I have run the entire gamut of my emotions already today.
Through some spirit of karmic retribution, my earlier post about feeling idle at work has resulted in a torrent of paperwork flooding my desk. As a result, I have never typed so much work-related crap in my life. Coupled with that, I had a meeting at the bank today, in a last-ditch attempt to secure a bank account, while simulteanously preserving my sanity, and not harming the bank staff.
All I can say is, the money launderers and bank robbers have ruined it for the rest of us. I mean, nobody trusts anybody anymore. AB and I turned up at the bank, requisite identification documents in hand (well, in bag), ready to sign any forms and answer any questions.
Being the chicken-shit institution that they are, the bank sent out its Employee Just Out Of Puberty award-winner, whom I shall call Stephen (because that was his name).
Let me just say that we liked Stephen, so we kept our cool and didn't hurt him when he delivered the bad news that our pristine collection of ID-proving documents were insufficient to get us a bank account at this time. Ever the optimist, Stephen jollied us along with his we'll-get-that-bank-account-for-you-soon Mouseketeer spirit, and I got sucked in. The headache that was threatening to engulf my head must have been distracting me.
In any case, we left the bank, somewhat dejected but not defeated, resolving to get the last piece of paper we need before the bank will give us the Holy Grail we have been so desperately seeking - the savings account.
So while this whole banking debacle has been more Python than Lightyear, I'd like to pause and reflect on a Buzz-ism when I say, Never Give Up - Never Surrender.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Monday, July 18, 2005
And I join the chorus of voices around the world when I bellow: WHO CARES?!
Friday, July 15, 2005
I'm not actually advocating lunch-cutting as a standard practice between friends, but I couldn't help it. Gregg and I are simply meant to be together. To suggest that today's liaison was all Gregg's fault isn't really fair. As it was, I approached him. And it's not like they have an agreement or anything (a la not seeing other people bla bla). Because believe me, Gregg sees a LOT of people. Many of them women, but he's not actually fussy about that, now that I think about it.
Batreg broke the news to you yesterday about her lack of success in charming the bank staff sufficiently to issue her a bank account. Well I had no luck there either. Actually I was advised of my failure before her, but kept it quiet on the account of acute depression. I've been in such disbelief about the reluctance of Scotland's bureaucracy to welcome us, as fellow Commonwealth citizens, that I simply couldn't mention it.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Thursday, July 07, 2005
If I was back in Australia right now, I'd be sitting on my couch, glued to the TV, trading can-you-believe-its and this-is-incredibles with my mother. Most likely. But instead I'm overseas, miles away from anyone who cares what I think about things like this. So I resort to sharing it here. Sure, it's one-way communication, but at least it's an outlet. Indulge me, if you dare.
Clearly my happy news came from the one-line text and email from my friends, not from the news bytes of CNN or the others. Hearing they were safe and well effectively disconnected me from the tragic situation in London. And yet I can't look away from it.
To Stoney and Groovy Gems - I'm so glad that you are both safe, well, and were able to message me quickly today (SMS and email rocks). I'm really relieved that my two favourite Londoners are doing well. Keep safe, girls and we'll have
a Coopers eventually. [I know I keep promising].
Oooh speaking of coffee, guess what? AB tells me that Listerine has produced caffeine tabs, similar to the translucent peppermint tongue thingies that are popular the world over. Am yet to see the proof myself but WA-HEY it could be a rather different way to wake up in the morning.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
I miss large jars of Vegemite; hamburgers with the lot made to order; Fasta Pasta; cheap house red; and Coopers beer.
So when I stumbled across a funny site today, I knew I had to share it with you. The content is allegedly beamed across the world to help foreign people learn all they can about the big, brown land of Oz. You've probably seen some of the info in gag emails, but it's worth another look if you get time. Enjoy!
- designer uniforms for the athletes;
- kisses before and after the races;
- quality coffee and pastries right across the City;
- reliable transportation;
- consistent weather; and
- French men.
If London can offer me any or all of these things, I'll change my tune.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Kate tells me that to access the restaurant, we need to sashay down (or up?!) a red carpet, past the tourists waiting to climb the Tower's forty million stairs. As patrons of the restaurant, we are transferred by an elevator. La-dee-da.
But here is an example of what money can't buy here. No supermarket in this country, or any other, could stock such a valuable commodity. Sigh.
Monday, July 04, 2005
We caught the bus to Paisley, as I do every morning to come to work. It was a surprise for our bus driver to see AB and I clamber on the skinny, white-knuckle-ride bus with our mini suitcases and casual garb. If our luggage didn't give us away, we were all smiles and hopeful expressions, so the bus driver knew we were off on an adventure of some kind, I'm sure.
The train to Glasgow Central left shortly after we arrived at the station, so we didn't need to wait around at all. I was a bit apprehensive, because I knew that upon arrival at Glasgow, we'd need to walk through the City to Glasgow Queen Street station, and change trains for Edinburgh. But Glasgow is a super-easy city to get around, and finding Queen Street was dead simple. Both stations are clean and modern, and the trains are smooth and run on time. The journey to Edinburgh took about 45 minutes and though there was not much scenery to admire, we did pass through some lovely towns that warrant a return visit when we have time.
Arriving at Edinburgh Waverly station was not the crush of people I was expecting. Lots of people wearing white (as Sir Bob had asked people to do), made me feel guilty for forgetting and instead wearing my khaki green ANZAC tshirt. Bummer, missed that one. A quick phone call to Nat, one of the Adelaide girls we we met in Turkey, and we arrived at her workplace called Eccovino, a funky wine bar on Cockburn Street. After a cleansing glass of prosecco and a bruschetta of goat cheese, sweet onion, and olive tapenade (naturally), we were ready to hit Princes Street shopping district and find Batreg some 'going out' shoes.
To get to Princes Street we had to go right over the Waverly bridge (back past the train station, where we'd just come from). The protesters cut up through the Park and down sections of Princes Street that had been cordoned off. The sea of white-clad protesters gave me goosebumps, and still does when I think about it.
I took some photos of the protesters, chanting their "Make Poverty History" slogans and blowing their whistles. It was a magic sight, all these people united in a march down the cobbled streets in the shadow of the beautiful Edinburgh Castle. I loved it.
Cut to later that afternoon, and we're on the Royal Mile with an after-work Nat, and our friend Susie (also a Turkey pal, hailing from Adelaide). We enjoyed some afternoon tea and people watching, then way too many beers with Nat at Belushi's, a neat bar/hostel down by the train station (again?!).
When Darren and Jaime arrived later that night, there was some rather confused SMS communication and phone conversation to rendez-vous at the flat the boys had rented, and where we would be staying overnight. The flat was in a prime location, just up from the Royal Mile near the Castle, but in a relatively quiet part of the street. We had dinner at an Italian cafe, then wandered across the street for a few pints.
A sore head on Sunday morning (maybe I was poisoned?!), and I was first up out of bed, in the shower, and ready with my coffee on the couch. Once everyone got organised, we went to a cafe for brunch where I finally tasted some of Darren's Haggis - a crucial part of a Scottish breakfast fry-up. Haggis actually tastes a lot like the stuffing you get in a chicken, but a bit spicier. Not unpleasant, but not something I'd particularly order for myself.
After brunch, we walked along the Royal Mile, calling into various museums and trinket shops along the way. We visited "Camera Obscura" which is a museum-type place full of holograms, illusions, and magic. As the name implies, there is also a Camera Obscura which, as all you latin-philes out there would know, means dark room. It houses a camera that gives you a birds-eye view of what's happening in Edinburgh and you can rotate the lens to spy on pedestrians and get a general view of the City. Rather cool.
When we left the boys, and the City, behind at 5pm, we were absolutely exhausted. But we also knew we had not seen even a small part of the wonders that Edinburgh has to offer. Clearly we need to return when we have a lot more time. I had a really enjoyable weekend in Edinburgh, and I can't wait to go back. The city has a really comfortable feel to me, and has ancient architecture, but a culture for young people. I am really looking forward to getting back there.
Friday, July 01, 2005
- Hong Kong - the sesame pudding, given to us as a special Chinese treat at the Nathan Street restaurant. BLECH.
- France - the mountain o'meat and sauerkraut I shared with Kate's dad in Alsace. Fortunately no pictures were taken, because I can't bear to think of it again. The indigestion days afterwards was enough.
- Turkey - ordering a kebab from a restaurant in Istanbul, built under the Bosphorous Bridge (linking Asia and Europe). The kebab meat was served in a bowl, on top of fries, covered in tangy sauce and sour cream. An unconventional way to eat a kebab, for sure.
I'm looking forward to enjoying some traditional Scottish cuisine while I'm here too. I've already had neeps and tatties (boiled turnips & potatoes mashed together), and I've loved the tattie scones with a Sunday morning fry-up.