Monday, November 8, 2010

Images of Management Consultancy 1

Getting on a train in a small station in a wet part of the country, after lunch, clutching a station cafe all-day breakfast sub containing suspicious-looking bacon. My colleague (senior) nods at a group of men in suits also getting on the train, and identifies them as consultants from a rival firm. They spend the slow train journey back to London discussing important project things loudly. Me and my colleague spend it playing Angry Birds Halloween.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Second Opinion: Good Things Stay Clear cleanser

The item: Good Things Stay Clear anti-blemish cleanser.

The review: Face Goop.

The second opinion: As previously suggested, I have trouble with my skin*. The review of this cleanser called it 'the exorcist, in a face wash' and said it got rid of the reviewer's spots in three short days and I immediately thought, as is my wont in response to such glowing terms: yes! I will have a piece of that action. Also it was cheaper than my current facewash at only £4.99**. Good value.

The verdict: this stuff is really pretty good. It smells nice and lathers up even without the demonic lathering agent it doesn't have and leaves the skin feeling nice and clean. I think it has made a difference to my skin, which has felt clearer and smoother, and the couple of spots I have had have felt less angry than usual. More importantly the spots that have been haunting my upper chest for the last few weeks have gone, which I attribute to the additional of the cleanser to my shower routine.

The drawbacks: I seem to have gone through a bottle pretty quick, negating the saving on using a cheaper cleanser because I had to buy another one after a month (I suspect this may be because I merrily squeeze out far too much twice a day and will be watching my consumption with the new bottle). Another drawback is that while the bottle is pretty cute looking, when I got to the end and started squidging the tube about to get more out, the purple whatever out of which the label is constructed came off on my hands, in the puddle of cleanser I was preparing to stick all over my face; inconvenient, and meant I chucked a bottle that probably had a fair bit left because of the hassle of trying to get to it. I've been sticking to the instructions, which are to massage the cleanser in for at least a minute morning and night, and to be frank have my suspicions about whether this is what's improved my skin rather than the cleanser itself (I should be scientific about this and do a control trial with Pond's or something, but am afraid my face will explode again, so will sacrifice my evidence-based principles***).

The main issue I can see is that I don't know if Boots haven't quite flung themselves behind the brand or something, but the Good Things... range is a) exclusive to Boots and b) hard to find in-store, by which I mean there are three medium-sized Boots stores within five minutes of where I work (yeah, I know, but I do work near Oxford Street), and only one of them stocks it. I don't know what the stock levels are like in places where there aren't two or three branches per square mile, but potentially this means it can't quite be the cupboard staple a £5 or less Boots range really should be, and leaves me with a fear that they will discontinue it at any moment.

Overall: have bought again, will buy again. If I can.

* I went to the doctor about this (yes, trivial, wondrous-NHS-destroyed-by-the-worried-well etc, but moving to London had apparently caused my skin to go into a several months long scream of rage and having throbbing pustules all over my chin was doing nothing for my confidence in a new, client-facing job) and got them to put me on Dianette, the version of the Pill indicated for crappy skin, and it did work, but then they were horrified I spent six months on it and made me come off it, which I assumed was something to do with blood pressure but which my friend the student nurse later told me was because it's more expensive (I don't know if she's right about this). And since then my skin has been better than it was but still overall displeasing.
** My usual is the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, which gets raves everywhere and wins lots of stuff in magazines, and it's fine but wasn't working miracles anymore.
*** Note added 8/11/2010: sadly for me, I was given opportunity to test this via a confluence of events too boring to go into but which left me on a train to the Family of Virtue without all the stuff I'd packed, including this cleanser, and had to spend two days using some stuff left in the homestead some time previously (no names, but Johnson & Johnson: it's your fault). Two short days. And my skin has reacted with the angry petulant wrath of the violently betrayed. My chin has broken out dreadfully. I got home and clutched the Good Things to my bosom like Lady Mary clutched the Turkish bloke to hers (Downton Abbey spoiler: so tight HE DIED). I take it all back, dear beautiful Good Things Stay Clear, if you will only fix my fizzog.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Failure is probably an option

Already the NaNo substitute has not quite functioned and this is a naughty, cheaty backdated post. If I could find a working app that posted to blogger easily I would be more functional, possibly. But Tuesday is my evening of virtuous volunteering and the time, she runs away with me. The plan for this weekend is to write up a couple of posts in advance that I can stick up when time runs away with me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Challenge Virtuosa

In lieu of doing NaNoWriMo like everyone I know on the interwebs, my solemn promise to myself is that I will blog ALL OF THE DAYS. (Of November. Not of forever.)

This year I went to a Hallowe'en party, for the excellent reason that it was walking distance from my house and I didn't have to feck about with night buses or tubes. I went as Joan from Mad Men, based on this picture, using a dark red shift dress from Warehouse last year, never worn because it is a) indecently tight and b) the zip is pretty buggered and when I tried on the frock in the morning left me resigned to either cutting my way out of it or living in it. (Strangely drunkenness at the end of the night helped this problem.) I also did some backcombing and kind of weirdly swept my hair back, as it's far too short to do any kind of actual updo. And liquid liner with a new coat of mascara added every five minutes for an hour. And red lips. A couple of people actually go who I was supposed to be, so I assume it somewhat worked.

No photos, sadly. (It's not sad at all. Heh. I looked okay though.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tea for Two

The place: Orange Pekoe, Barnes

I do like a spot of tea and cake. This is because I a) like to eat and 2) like to pretend that I have an enormously elegant life of swanning around a variety of teashops and chatting about high-brow things*.) So when the Sister of Virtue suggested we go for tea and scones** near where she lives I said 'Yes! Let's!'*** and went.

It is the most adorable place, combining ye olde-ness and a modern feel very well (that wallpaper with the birdcages on; quirky mismatched china displayed in a very interiors-mag way; dinky outside furniture for the pavement cafe element.). It's a very good-looking place.

The food and drink was likewise very good. I had a steamed milk, cinnamon and honey concoction that was very nice, although rather too heavily milky for mid-afternoon; I should have gone with the honey latte. I had a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam (it was a bit posh; they called it preserves). The scone was home-made, I don't know about the cream and jam. Sister had a lemon cake, which came in a pleasingly large wodge (I didn't taste any; we're eaters, not sharers, in our family).

Apparently Orange Pekoe is really into tea. To the extent there was a little book on the table, which you could buy for 5.95 English pounds, and it was all about the Orange Pekoe and how into tea they are. We didn't have any tea, but I'm sure it's excellent. We did, however, look at the tea, which is arrayed on a whole wall in big jars, and that was very nice, like a sweetie shop of yore. They also do sandwiches and light bites, and a full-on afternoon tea with finger sandwiches and cake stands and general indulgent loveliness, and who among us doesn't want a bit of indulgent loveliness now and again?

* Not actually the case.
** I'm not that into scones, but have a fondness for them because when I was little I won a prize by ringing into the radio and telling them my joke, which was:
What's the fastest cake in the world?
Everyone laughed. I was pretty cute back then.
*** The title of a game I used to play in drama class, consisting in one person shouting out something to do (e.g. hop on one leg, jump up and down) and we all had to shout back 'Yes! Let's!' and then do it. Sometimes I feel that this attitude could take me far, and sometimes I think it's a barrier to wisdom.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Too-be much to take

A couple of years ago I had a temp job a forty-five minutes away from home, and I hated the drive, because other drivers are such wankers. If only I'd known that two short years later I would have no car, and other people on public transport, are also wankers, but - crucially - without the calming barrier of a whole car or two between us. Then I would have been grateful for the drive.

To commemorate this I have created this list of the most significant sins committed by people on London's (in other ways really very good) public transport system. Most of these could be avoided by the simple expedient of people considering for a tiny second that actually, other people exist. These are in order of their coming to me, rather than in order of infuriatingness. They're all unforgivably infuriating.

1. Sitting on the inside seat on the bus when it's very busy and either pretending not to see anyone else (annoying) or just looking at you with the dead-eyed impudence of 'I'm not going to move and you're not going to ask me, in case I kick off' (very annoying).

2. Standing in front of the window in the door on a packed Tube carriage. That's EVERYONE's air. Stop using it all.

3. Holding onto the overhead bar with two hands in the Tube carriage vestibule (parallel to the doors), taking up loads of room. Funnily enough, I only ever see men doing this. One day, I will break, and start tickling.

4. Corollary to 3: people who lean on an upright pole (Tube and bus). Other people are also trying not to fall over, you know.

5. [Tube drivers] When the Tube stops and they don't say anything for about five minutes, while I break into a sweat and fan myself with a bookmark, trying not to elbow other people in the face, and start contemplating whether I would take my heels off I had to walk to the surface and whether I have suitable receptacles in my bag for weeing into, if it came to it, and whether there's enough water in everyone's bags to keep us all alive if we pooled it. Essentially, not being given information quickly makes me assume I need to start planning to recreate human civilisation on the Northern line, halfway between Waterloo and Kennington.

6. People with buggies on really busy buses who never appear to consider for a moment that they might want to fold the buggy up. Even though it says on the sign that in busy times they may need to fold up the buggy to make space. It's part of the social contract of public transport, same as getting up for people who need the seat more than you. You can tell because signs ask you to do both things. (If you've bought a buggy you don't know how to fold up, there's no hope for you. You probably ought not to have bred.)

7. PDA. Especially on a commuter Tube in the morning.

If you do any of these things regularly, I hope you will rethink your ways. Failing that, I hope TfL comes up with a way of catapulting you off all public transport based on facial recognition technology within my lifetime.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Today I have been living in London for a whole year. To celebrate I have flipped my mattress.

The other thing I did today was go on a Wellcome Collection walk, 'Conspicuous Consumption', about the link between medicine and money in the 18th and 19th centuries. It started at Great Portland Street and ended at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road and was pretty interesting, despite it starting pissing down about halfway through and devotedly wetting the streets and us for a good hour. (A number of people didn't have umbrellas, but stiff-upper-lipped their way through the inevitable dampness; one can only assume they had never been to England in October before, or heard anything about it.) We criss-crossed Harley Street and the surrounding area (gorgeous majestic buildings) and then trundled through Fitzrovia, stopping at various blue-plaqued buildings to hear from the guide about their stories. His name was Richard somehting and he was excellent, highly engaging and very knowledgeable. A poignant moment was at the building site that used to be the Middlesex Hospital, where the guide had trained as a doctor starting in 1998; they've left the building's facade and apparently a grade 1 listed chapel on the site. For a city with a long and storied history not much of London's historical fabric seems to be left, before perhaps the 19th century, so it's a shame to lose buildings steeped in history and development.

After the talk I had lunch at the Wellcome Collection cafe. Both the lunch and the walk (free!) are to be highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Second Opinion

On Second Opinion, or why yes, I do believe everything I read: I see a lot of reviews of stuff in blogs and magazines and papers. And then, because I'm gullible, deeply susceptible to marketing, and enjoy nurturing within my bosom a tiny seed of hope, I buy/watch/visit the stuff in question. This occasional blog series will reveal what happened to that delicate nugget of expectation.

So! Onward.

The second opinion: I wage a sad, daily war with the unpredictable oilslick of vindictiveness that is my complexion, and I liked this a lot, largely because it's significantly cheaper than the last stuff I had which did the same job (Origins made it, and it smelled nice, but good God was it expensive)*. It didn't do much immediately for my face - disappointing based on the review, but that sounded like the reviewer used it regularly so maybe that's why. I used it last night and did find myself thinking my face felt softer when cleansing tonight. (I stroked it a bit, like a lady in a Fairy Liquid ad.) That said, the dual warming and exfoliating effect was very nice, even though I used a big dollop when maybe should have only used a thin layer. (The instructions were not specific.) Also there's something a bit satisfying about exfoliating. I will use this for the three times a week recommended.

* The original reviewer has this whole thing about how it used to be cheaper before Sanctuary got all rebranded, and I feel her, because I just bought a pair of shoes that are lovely but were £8 cheaper when I bought them in a different colour in spring (yeah, you, Office: on notice), but I never bought this stuff before so it didn't bother me. Actually, it bothered me a little bit, but only because I'd read her review. Otherwise I would never have known they slapped on another couple of quid because they changed the colour of the box or whatever. And then it wouldn't have bothered me at all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The imaginary friend

Yesterday I listed a bag on ebay for the first time ever, excitingly. It was a replacement for a bag that broke, but now I've lost faith in it (... so maybe it wasn't really intended for carrying laptops around) so I'm selling it as new but didn't want to go into all that in the listing, so instead described it as an unwanted gift (to explain why it's new/unused). Now I find myself feeling guilty for my ingratitude in selling it. Sorry, imaginary offended gift-buyer.