Friday, February 23, 2007

Freeze frame

There's this really cool moment in some films where you freeze frame on
someone's face the first time you see them and you get a little voiceover
telling you a bit about them. I wish they had that in real life.
On my first day, one of the senior management came up to me to show me
round and I asked him if he was one of the reporters. That was probably
excusable. But I've been here 6 weeks now, and, because I am a hack and
other people need to know my name for bylines and such-like, quite a lot of
people are on first name terms with me.

Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about me. Of the people who
smile, nod, and say "Hi Frangelita" in the corridor while I'm walking the
seven miles to the nearest loo, I only recognise a fraction of them. Then
some of them I sort of know who they are - because they've come and asked me
about my stories - but as for their names, I have no clue. I've never worked
anywhere with so many employees before - except for one leading supermarket,
where I was the fruit and veg girl (no jokes please), but they got around
that difficulty by handily wearing little name badges with job descriptions
and everything.

I think felt-tip pen on foreheads would work just as well, though, maybe I
should suggest it.

It's a bit of a wee minefield, though, I could very easily say the wrong
thing to the wrong person. I'm not equipped for office politics, as I said
before, I'm not good at the lying.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I am rubbish

I realise I haven't been publishing much. It's partly because I am living with friends and it's a bit rude to be constantly using their computers. And partly because I'm a bit poorly-sick and very tired with it.

But mostly cos I'm out having a wicked cool time in Oxford. It's bloody ace. Managed to blag me guestlist for a Just Jack concert which was very cool. Although no-one I tell that seems to know who they are - trust me they're ace. Also there were birthdays and Valentine's Days and an ill-advised dance move which ended up with me spinning around on my back on the floor in an almost elegant but mostly silly fashion. I did also have to go to a six and a half hour council meeting which yielded all of 250 words.

Anyhoo, I'm mid-watching ER which is bitchin' as always. Peace-out.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A little history

I feel I should explain a little bit about my history with bicycles. I learnt to ride a bike, as most children do. I think my dad probably taught me. I remember my first bike, it was blue and had stabilisers.

When me and my brother were at school, we were taught how to ride bikes and all about the Highway Code. My brother, who is two years older than me and one year ahead in school, failed his cycling proficiency test the first time he took it. I took the mickey out of him for ages. When my turn came for the lessons and the tests, I refused to take part. I was too terrified of cycling downhill. This may have something to do with going biking in the woods near my house and seeing my brother nearly mangling himself on many occasions.

Despite not being officially proficient, I still took my bike out. My parents, obviously, insisted on me wearing a helmet, but the one I initially insisted on was really, really rubbish so I deliberately lost it. My mum made me wear her old horse-riding helmet. It didn't fit very well and I looked like an idiot.

Time passed, and I stopped riding my bike. Then, many years later, I thought I should get a bike to ride seven miles to work in Suffolk. As it took me about 45 minutes (like I said, slowest cyclist in the UK), I only did it once. Me and HF did go out for a long bike ride one crisp winter day. But misjudged all manner of things and ended up riding back in the near dark with no lights into a freezing wind without anything warmer than a hoodie. We only went out for a couple more rides, the experience cycling back that day was so hellish it still brings me out in goosebumps.

Because I grew up in such a tiny village (there was a row of houses and two farms, and a bus stopped there once a week), I had virtually no experience of riding in towns. This scared the bejesus out of me when I first got to Oxford. Still does, to be honest. I have managed to collide with two cyclists, although not, as yet, any pedestrians or buses.

Just as I live in constant fear of my wheels falling off while driving a car, I have a fear of my brakes failing and the bike falling in half when I'm cycling. To be honest, I'm a bit of a shit cyclist.

I'm sure there was a point in there somewhere, but I think I've lost it.

Oh yeah - I laughed at E when she removed all the lights from her bike before coming into our house. Then last night, someone nicked my bike lights.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

The slowest thing on two wheels

It's official, I'm an Oxford-type now. Not once, but twice I have cycled to work and back. Oh yes! And it's quite far, too (takes me about 50 minutes to walk).

I am, however, having to reconcile myself to being by far the slowest cyclist in the whole of Oxford. As I cycle along, puffing heavily and wondering how bright red I am turning, I watch the world go by. As in, overtake me. I'm not just talking about the scary fit types with bulging thighs and worryingly tight shorts. Oh no, I'm talking people whose bikes look like they were taken from the ocean floor from the Titanic. Fat people. Thin people. People carrying huge rucksacks. People with little baskets full of text books. People with two bags of shopping attached to their handlebars. And they're all going faster than me, goddamnit!

I've been trying to convince myself that it's because I did something a bit peculiar when I removed and replaced my back wheel so that it's constantly breaking a bit and making me work harder. But secretly, I think I'm just a bit of a rubbish cyclist. It doesn't help that I was so paranoid about it being nicked that I bought the biggest lock I could imagine. Which seems to have seized up slightly so I have to worry it out every time I use it (rather time-consuming). It's also rather cumbersome when not in use, and I am yet to find a satisfactory way of attaching it to the bike in motion without it interfering with the wheels, the pedals, my legs, or even, on occasion, my arse. So I'm mostly carrying it in my backpack.

This evening, after work, I stopped at a shop to buy something and locked it to a lamppost. I returned and got back on the bike (after about 15 minutes fumbling with the lock) and it was about another 10 minutes before I realised I'd forgotten to switch my bike lights back on.

Honestly, it's amazing I manage to get my shoes on the right foot. It's only a matter of time before I go outside with a pair of knickers on my head.

More on that story later.