A cynical cock-eyed optimist?

During the past week I have been called several names, most of them more acceptable than those used by my eloquent College Boy.

I was branded a floosie (or floozy depending on which part of the country you come from) last week because I enjoy and appreciate  the conversation and company of my male colleagues – quite like that title actually. I’ve always been one for a bit of a hug too. No tongues please.

On Monday I became a hard-line cynic with a bit of anarchy thrown in for good measure.  I am of the opinion that my employers are trying to dupe us with a hefty dose of spin – with good reason – we have to recoup 14 million big ones and we aren’t going to do that without some blood on the carpet.  I’d prefer honesty but our comms and hr departments seem hell-bent on the using the mushroom technique (keep us in the dark and cover us with  ….compost?).

My wonderful partner in crime and I attended one of those rare meetings where you get to speak your mind – and we did. I also doodled a lot – it stops me from saying too much – sort of. We have been told that we shouldn’t sit next to each other in meetings because we encourage each other – that’s the idea actually.

We left the meeting still on speaking terms with comms and hr but they were looking a little hurt by our cynicism – ah shame.  Still – our chief exec has got a new job and WON’T be getting a golden handshake when she goes – I’d like to say she’ll be missed – I’d like to but she won’t.

Tuesday was hell.  Busy and at times I felt myself drowning under a sea of nobber-led idiocy.

By Wednesday my natural optimism had resurfaced having fought its usual battle with pessimism and a healthy dose of paranoia.  Later that date my boss commented that I would always be a bit of a rebel – and I quite liked that title too.

Yesterday was overwhelmingly  good to start off with because I went on a course and was a girly swot for knowing all the answers and being VERY helpful to the trainers who were undergoing an assessment themselves. By Zumba time however, my inability to tell my right from my left and to remember more than one piece of fancy footwork for more than three seconds had left me feeling deflated, knackered and in need of a glass (or three) of the hard stuff.

Today has been busy again so I have by turns been helpful, highly efficient(-ish), kind (to a colleague who was very apprehensive about a meeting we were in – it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be – I knew that) and generous – to my scavvy friend who came on a late afternoon biscuit trawl (I have it on good authority that his own team hide all their biscuits from him).  I got two compliments on my appearance today as well – something usually limited to my lovely hub.

I even managed to play the stern mother for a very brief period this evening although I ran out of umph rather too quickly and College Boy regained the dominant position – ah but he hugged me goodbye before going off to the cinema with his buddies.

So is it possible to be a cynical cock-eyed optimist then?  A happily married floosie?  A girly swot with two left feet and a decidedly rebellious streak?  If I ask  my hub he will undoubtedly say that I am all those things and several more – after twenty-five years together he has a lot of names for me and not all of them complimentary.  We won’t go into the fact that I will never qualify for the housewife of the year  title, I have no cleaning and tidying genes and whilst I have some habits that verge on the OC end of the scale I am too easily distracted by my kindle, my computer and anyone with the ability to make me laugh.

I managed to concentrate long enough to pass my assignment with a creditable 66% – and statistical testing is still a mystery to me – but I must mug up on it before residential school at the end of July or I will definitely lose my girly swot status.

College Boy has returned from the cinema – he’s seen The Avengers but informs me that unless I’ve seen both Iron Man films, the Hulk and Captain America then I won’t understand any of it.  I try to explain that these comics were part of my stable reading diet back in the day but he hurrumphs and reminds me that I am just an old fogie who knows nothing.

Then kisses me good night.  I am damned with his faint praise.

When I thought I knew all the good insults already ….

Life has been taken up by the assignment from hell for the past two weeks but I finished it in the end and sent it off to my tutor with condolences.  This was the first time in nine years of OU study I’ve sent off an assignment and had doubts as to whether it would pass.  That sounds a bit arrogant but if you check that you’ve met all the criteria you’re usually onto a winner and I haven’t failed one yet – yet.  Uni Boy was very helpful with the sums bit – he gave me quite a few pitying looks (far worse than the fluent sarcasm) but did eventually admit that he may be an A* student but statistics was the one section of his Maths ‘A’ level that he hated.  Gave lovely Hub the first draft of the assignment to read and he had to go and sit in the bedroom with the curtains drawn.  He was gone for ages and when he emerged, his face was grey and very serious.  He handed me back the assignment and very solemnly informed me that his head was about to explode.  Shades of ‘Blazing Saddles’ – “You’re on your own”.

I like a challenge.  My own head nearly burst a couple of times but the relief once I’d finished it and sent it – and all its little attachments – tremendous.

Uni Boy has now gone back to Uni.  There have been a few fraught moments between him and College Boy over Easter – the green-eyed monster reared its ugly little head and they actually came to blows on one occasion.  I sought counsel from a mate who is a one of those policemen types – worried in case the boys did each other any damage or Hub got caught in the middle of the melee.  My mate was very practical and advised me to get a large alcoholic drink and tell them to take it elsewhere but not to call the rozzers because when all is said and done – it’s just testosterone.

College Boy is going through a dodgy time anyway – on Monday his Tweedledum teacher sent him out of class for talking – I spent his formative years trying teach him to talk and she tells him to shut up!  Everyone else in the class was talking too but she zoned in on him because he is six-foot tall, broad and loud – and he did actually say ‘whatever’ at her.  Classic control mechanism – go for the most dominant member of a troublesome group and remove them, the rest of the group will calm down and you’re back in control again. Yeah, well, she isn’t targeting MY BOY!  She stalked into the classroom where he’d sat down and set up his laptop and actually said ‘Don’t think you can call me a bad teacher either!’  Ummm – he didn’t actually say anything about her ability as a teacher – Freudian slip or what?

I got a call from his form teacher asking me to discipline him for his behaviour – but after I’d told her how disgusted Hub and I were with the way Tweedledum and Tweedledee spoke to us at parents’ evening – she kind of backed down and asked me if I would discuss it with him and perhaps come up with some coping mechanisms.  I suggested that Tweedledum try teaching the class instead of giving them handouts and tell them to read silently for the duration of the lesson. Does she not realise that teenagers don’t do ANYTHING in silence (unless they are doing something dubious that they don’t think you’ll find out about).

I think we still have to have a discussion with the head of college about College Boy’s attitude (and undoubtedly mine too ) but the heat is off – for the time being at least.

We took Uni Boy back to York on Wednesday – my last day off before going back to work – and a day on which I learned two new insults, one from each of my boys.  Good taste prevents me from reproducing them here but a swift trip round Google and a couple of unsubtle hints might help anyone curious enough to want to know what they were.

College Boy was a little agitated when we dropped him off in the morning – hence the insults – but he was grimacing not snarling when he delivered them so I see that as a term of endearment really (deluded mother).  According to Google, the insult was in Sk8ter Boi lingo and intimated that of all buffoons – I was the buffoon of buffoons – in Kolij Boi’s humble opinion anyway.

I left Hub and Uni Boy to pack the worldly goods into the car – smug in a post-assignment sort of way.  We collected my Dad – a now indispensable member of the York Road trip crew and set off in the rain.  Dad and Uni Boy slept through the journey – I stayed awake because it seems a bit disloyal to nod off when Hub doesn’t have a choice about it – SOMEBODY has to drive!

It took several trips to get everything upstairs and into Uni Boy’s bijou pad – noticed that the cleaners still haven’t got rid of all the flour from the carpet.  Last time we were there the room opposite had been covered with mini post its – each one bearing something crude and/or Anglo-Saxon in origin.  This time it was Uni Boy’s turn to have his door decorated – with a large white poster stating ‘I (heart) c*****’.  Hadn’t come across that one before – neither had Hub.  Googled it.  Another name for a particular part of a lady’s anatomy apparently.  I have been informed by those who know these things that it originates from ‘The Inbetweeners’.

I thought I knew all the best insults and rude words.  I even got Hub to teach me some really guttural German swear words when I worked with grotty adolescents – that way I had the chance to get my own back by smiling sweetly and trotting out my Teutonic insults in a light and pleasant tone.  Only I knew what I was really saying to them.

We went out for a meal and then took Uni Boy on the usual stocking up expedition to The ASDA – he seems to be living on spaghetti at the moment, but there was plenty of fruit and veg and only a couple of bottles of booze.  Each time we leave him it gets a little easier – he’s happy in his little room, he has a good social life and plenty of mates and his grades are excellent  – but oh I miss the boy.

College Boy was welly jeally that we’d been gone all day so we had to go on a kebab meat hunt after we’d dropped Dad off.  The Dukan diet has reared its ugly head again and though I don’t think Mr Dukan would be too chuffed at the idea of scoffing kebab meat – College Boy seems to think it is okay if you lose the pitta bread and salad!

Back to work on Thursday and whilst it was quite nice to have a two-day week, there was so much to catch up with and a lot of it was caused by  other people’s stooooopidity.  An added irritation was the numerous calls from the PPI sellers – now renamed ‘nobbers’ (Brian Cox’s favourite derogatory term for Twitter Idiots).  It’s bad enough when you get the recorded message but I had at least three calls from live personages who couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to talk to them about PPI.

So here we are – it’s the weekend and Hub is on lates so I’m cheating and watching trash TV (as in stuff that he looks disdainfully at but would never dream of stopping me watching if I wanted to – I just prefer his company)   The Voice – hmmm – according to College Boy the singing is too good and not funny  (all a bit too warbly for me) – he recommends BGT because there are crap performers on it – so I’ll watch till I get irritated.  Milli0n Pound Drop – Davina gets up my nose but Chris Doyle and Dawn Porter are on tonight – so I’ll just have to keep my finger on the mute button.

I’d be much happier in a world where I could just watch programmes that make me laugh.  Having said that  – Tom Jones just made the right choice – in my humble opinion.

Sinclair Spectrum revisited

My latest OU module requires me to do programming with something called E-Prime.  I have to run an experiment, analyse the data and do a project report on the whole thing.

Pivotal to the whole experiment  is building a little programme first, running it and hoping that it will give me some results.

No problem.  Uni Boy assures me this is a doddle if you are numerate – knowing full well that I am not.  College Boy sniggers.  Lovely hub is sympathetic and says maybe I should leave it until I’ve had something to eat, drink and slept off the rigors of the working day (I can power nap standing up if necessary and sometimes it is).

Following the instructions meticulously I put the programme together on Monday.  It failed to run and came up with an insidious error message that made no sense to me.  Hub was on a late shift so I cut my losses, had a drink and watched Dave to cheer myself up until he came home  (Dave the channel – not the film – I can always find an episode of Mock the Week, HIGNFY or QI to banish my blues.)

I tried again on Tuesday – this is beginning to sound like Craig David.  Started from scratch and failed again.  Checked the OU website and discovered myself in good company with a lot of other sad losers with annoying error messages.  Hub went off to work on a night shift, Dave channel went on and I settled down for the third time to try to tame the beast.

I read the instructions again.  There, lurking insignificantly was a sentence about removing the original slides once you have copied them into the subsidiary programme.  Aha!  I did it.  It worked.  In College Boy terminology I am of the win! (as opposed to my usual status of epic fail.)

It took me back horribly to my first dabblings with programming in the shape of the Sinclair Spectrum.  It plugged into the TV and before they started putting the programmes on cassette tapes you had to sit there patiently (or not in my case) putting rows of numbers, back slashes and colons in only to find – if you were lucky – that it would run a very simple sequence  that was over in seconds or – and this was more often my experience – you would have put your colon in a totally inappropriate place (tricky?) and the error message that appeared gave you absolutely no clue about what was wrong , it just sat there on the TV screen blinking smugly at you.

Scarred by this early experience I abandoned any thought of working with numbers and computers and lurched off into the murky world of stage management (temporary blip), followed by the even murkier world of social work (there’s no way out).

I use computers all the time now – at work and at home  – but I rarely have to play around with the programming stuff.  Strangely enough I love statistics and the sight of a well-arranged spreadsheet fills my anorak heart with joy.  I can’t add up for toffee though.

Enough of the cerebral stuff.  Hub and I are abandoning Uni Boy and College Boy to their slumbers and heading for the seaside.  Off to Crosby to see the standing men (Anthony Gormley’s  ‘Another Place’).  they never fail to cheer me up and I could do with some fresh see air.  Hope the house is still standing when we get back.

Not such a perfect weekend

Working from home yesterday – or trying to.  The laptop decided that it didn’t want to connect to the network  so I had to use the alternative method of connecting.  It’s a pain because the usual method gives me three hours continuous access at a time whereas using the other way only gives me an hour before I have to reboot.

Out of an eight-hour shift only two calls were genuine emergencies; the rest were the result of people  acting like dipsticks.  Lovely hub was working and boys were both asleep.  Whinging cat slept once fed but came up to the office  three times during the day to wail at me for more. Usually good conditions for working from home.  Ha!

Low lights of the day –  hospital staff who can’t be bothered to call when they should, leave it several hours and then complain when it’s too late to do anything because the person was sent home hours ago – oh yeah – that’s a real emergency.

The prize for total dipstick goes to a paediatric nurse who I spent nearly an hour chasing only to find out that she had no medical or parental consent to make her request anyway.  The first contact number she gave me was for an operating theatre recovery room, the second was for the path lab.  In between I tried to find her through the switchboard and she cut me off three times because she didn’t know how to use the phone.  They let this woman loose on sick children?  My son was on this ward a couple of months ago!

It took me another hour after my shift ended to get everything recorded and I went into our bedroom and pulled the duvet over my head. Go away world.

Lovely hub came to the rescue with a glass of sherry and a mild exhortation to come out and get some fresh air.  I could very easily have stayed where I was but  he was right to cajole.

Suitably booted and in warm coats we headed for the monument.  There’s something very levelling about watching the sun go down from the top of a hill.  All the idiocy fades into the background as the world just goes on doing its stuff whether you are there or not.  The irritations of the day faded away eventually.

Sunny again today though and as hub was on a late shift we headed down to the Mersey (our bit – not the Liverpool bit) to get some more fresh air and watch the river run.  We were just about to go home when we bumped into an old friend who’d brought his mum out for an airing.  An impromptu half pint at the Ferry Tavern – and we’re talking decent non-fizzy cider here – and we depart for home so that lovely hub can go off to work and I can get on with some work.

Four hours later I keep being seduced away from E-prime experiments and analysis by Twitter, Facebook and my blog.    Uni Boy has pulled another all-nighter – he does this every now and then in order to get his body clock stabilised (?).  His theory – not mine.  College Boy is shooting BBs all over the garden and has subjected the cat to a combing.  Said cat is now flat-out on the floor and totally traumatised.  I hope the sun is shining on Llandudno where my Dad is having a weekend away.

Back to work in the morning.  No more prevarication.  E-Prime here I come.