Oct. 4th, 2011 03:12 pm
gamiila: (A & M)
...I'm unemployed again.

What a difference 6 months make, though. The government cuts and lay-offs have severely eroded the service the Job Centre offers, so instead of a civil servant being assigned my case, someone you can actually meet and have a conversation with, I'm now having to deal with something called an 'e-coach'. Which, according to the website, means there's a whole 'team of experts' ready to take my questions, concerns etc. via a URL that doesn't appear to be working. So I've no idea what I'm supposed to be doing now, i.e., what rules apply to my particular situation. I won't let it worry me this week, though. I've only just had my last day at work yesterday, and I think I'm entitled to a bit of R&R before I start the search again.

OK, so I said I would be looking for another job while I was in the one I've just left. But it turned out to be undoable, or perhaps I'm just not very good at multi-tasking. At first, I was far too busy finding my feet and learning the ropes; and then when we got to mid-summer and things started to slow down a bit, they slowed down in the rest of the country as well. In The Netherlands, it's no use looking for a career change in July/August/September, a period that -for reasons that escape me- is colloquially known as 'cucumber time', as most people are off on holiday and therefore very few jobs are advertised. So, I've decided to start looking in earnest from next week onwards, but not before. I'm sure my e-coach won't approve of my decision, but there it is.

(I have put my cv back online, in case you're wondering if I'm just going to sit back and relax completely; and I have had some tentative and encouraging contact with head hunter firms already, and have also had 2 job offers, but neither of them appealed).

Last Saturday saw the return of Merlin to our screens, which I'm counting as a good thing as with the season finale of Doctor Who on the same day, I would otherwise be bereft of good enjoyable telly on the least until Christmas when The Doctor will be back for his annual special. What sad news though to hear that almost as soon as I finally manage to get BBC Three in my area, Auntie's decided to axe Doctor Who Confidential, which is brilliant at showing the behind the scenes work that goes on in bringing a series to the screen. Meanwhile, I've watched the finale twice, which is unusual for me as I don't tend to re-watch things I've already seen (or re-read things I've already read); but I'm still not capable of putting my thoughts into words. I did love it, though, and I ::heart:: Matt fully as much as I did Chris, which is saying something.

The sun was out all through last week and yesterday, with temperatures reaching into the mid-20s, so we finally did get to see a little bit of summer, but it's turned again now and the familiar grey clouds and drizzly rain are back, along with temperatures more usual for this time of year. Let's hope no volcano blows its top (Etna, I heard, might erupt soon) in the next few months, or next year might equally lack a summer to speak of.
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The threat of rain held off, so my friend and I took advantage of the dry spell this evening to sit out on the terrace of the wine bar round the corner and exchange gossip and imbibe. Glad I brought my coat though, 'cause it got real nippy after 9pm.

I spent the morning at the Job Centre taking part in a mandatory workshop, to learn about how best to position yourself in the current job market, but didn't take away anything I hadn't heard or practised before. Still, I found it quite a relief to find I'm not the only one finding it hard to get interviews, AND that the majority of the other 9 job seekers in the room had also previously been working in the financial services industry. Which is strange really, now that I think about it, because I'm actually in direct competition with these people on the job market...but there's definitely a truth to the old saying that a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved as far as I'm concerned.

I went to see The Karate Kid with Mum on Saturday, and although there wasn't as much Jackie Chan action hero! in it as I would have liked (with him having been my absolute favourite wu shu star for over a decade), I did enjoy seeing little Jaden Smith show his moves. Hopefully, he'll carry on with the martial arts, as he's made a really good start with this and us kung fu film fans need a new generation of kung fu masters to take over from the old guard in time. Why the film is called The Karate Kid though, is beyond me.

So sad there's only one more episode of Sherlock to look forward to. Stephen Moffat is a genius; his writing and characterisation, as well as Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch's acting make it such a pleasure to watch that those 90 minutes seem to pass in the blink of an eye. Definitely will have to get the dvd-set as soon as it hits the shops.

I spent some time on YouTube earlier today to try to find a song that had me spellbound with its beauty and unusualness of arrangement 33 years ago, and I found it! I hadn't heard it since I lost the album in a house move sometime in the early 80s, but listening to it again today I was pleased to find it still sounded as good as to me now as it did then.

Murray Head, Sorry, I Love You (1977)

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Day 25: An acoustic song you love

Not only acoustic, but a cappella as well: Hildegard von Bingen's Ave Generosa as sung by contralto Margaret Philpot on the 1981 Gothic Voices cd A Feather on the Breath of God, probably my favourite example of ars antiqua (a music genre popular in the 11th and 12th centuries).

the rest of the days )

I have no words to express how immensely satisfying I thought last night's conclusion to Doctor Who was. in case the next few lines may be considered spoilery... )

I can't do meta as other people in the fandom can; my thoughts on television shows, even the ones I like more than any others, don't tend to run that I'll just finish by saying that I have thoroughly enjoyed both the writing and the acting in this last series, and am looking forward to seeing Amy, Rory and Eleven again this coming Christmas.

The England vs. Germany game has just kicked off, but I'm not that interested in watching: neither team have really impressed so far and I'm indifferent as to which one of them will go through this afternoon. I am glad though that Ghana won their match against the USA yesterday; as they are the only African team still remaining in the competition, I think it will give a tremendous boost to the sport in the whole of the continent.

I missed the Netherlands' game on Thursday as I had a friend round for dinner; but I understand that again they didn't show any of the wonderful 'total football' they displayed in the qualifying stages. They'll be playing against Slovakia tomorrow, and I'm seriously worried they might not progress any further, if only because over the last few days every commentator and football analyst have expressed their opinion that Holland easily outclasses 'football midget' Slovakia, and pooh-pooh the fact that that 'football midget' eliminated reigning world champions Italy last week. That's tempting fate, and I don't like it.
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It seems the overriding feeling I've had the past few days is one of apathy. I've got too much time on my hands, and not much of an idea of how to pass it in any kind of meaningful way. I wish I could volunteer for something, but I'm not allowed to while I'm still waiting on the decision whether or not I qualify for benefit (and by now, I'm starting to think I may need it). And then, when the decision comes through and it's a yes, I'm not allowed to because I've got to keep myself available for proper jobs 40 hours a week.

I got another rejection e-mail the other day. Funny, how things have changed since the first time I ever looked for work. We wrote letters then, handwritten ones even, and got carefully typed letters back; 2 usually, a confirmation of receipt followed shortly after by a rejection letter. Now, we fill out forms on the Internet and the rejection e-mail pops up in your inbox days later, from No embossed papers with fancy letterhead that you can put in a manila folder and take to show your job centre 'workcoach' that you have been trying to find work, just a crappy print-out with a few lines in Courier. That's if you even get a reply, that is. Some companies won't even bother, I've noticed. You have to ring and find out that way that you're not what they're looking for.

My days are kind of same-y, really, which makes it kind of easy to forget what day it is exactly. The other day, thinking to get my grocery run done early, I was puzzled as to why the high street should be deserted and the supermarket closed at 8:15 am on a Thursday morning, so I walked on about half a mile to the station knowing there'd be people there whatever might be going on and asked a member of staff why things were so eerily quiet everywhere. He looked at me like I was from another planet before answering "Ascension Day, Ma'am, Ascension Day". And now it's Whitsun and that's very nearly caught me unawares as well.

I'm out of step with other things, too: for the first time since Andrew Lloyd Webber started selecting his leading man/ladies by means of a BBC talent competition, I've not been rooting for the person who ultimately won. To be honest, I hadn't been rooting for anybody...quite the opposite, in fact. There were two people I had to wait for what felt like a long time before they were eliminated, but other than with Connie, Lee and Jodie when it had been their audition process, there was no one I felt particularly passionate about should win it this time.

Several days on and I'm still more than content about the way Ashes To Ashes ended. But did it really have to be Dutch gangsters that killed the Quattro?
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With everything that's been going on in my life lately, I haven't had much of an inclination to think or write about the current series of Doctor Who, already in its 6th week. Now, after The Vampires of Venice, I feel I ought to say this: I am loving this.

So far, I think the writing and the casting has been brilliant. Yes, of course there are inconsistencies, improbabilities and plotholes, but this is Doctor Who and it sort of goes with the territory. But what I especially like about this series is how the episodes all interconnect, how there seems to be a real season arc forming and it's not just seemingly random visits to here, there and everywhere (as well as everywhen) as too many stories in the David Tennant-era seemed to me (but then, that could just be me, as even though I did watch most episodes, I didn't watch each and every one, and I gave up on the ones with Martha Jones in entirely pretty early on...).

With regards to the new companion, Amy, I think she's smart, sassy, and surprisingly empathic and insightful when The Doctor needs reining in (viz. The Beast Below). I enjoy watching the sort of relationship that's developed between her and her Doctor, though I don't ship them as I'm old school and I tend not to ship my Doctors with anyone, except in the case of Nine/Rose. Afterwards, this carried over, for a brief time and sort of reluctantly, into Ten/Rose, but only because the pairing had become canon by then. Boy, was I happy when he hooked up with Donna and she became his best friend. To be honest, emotionally speaking his losing Donna to oblivion affected me more than his losing Rose to a parallel universe earlier on. Anyway, for this reason I was enormously upset by the ending of last week's episode, but luckily The Vampires of Venice has brought resolution to the 'Amy fancies The Doctor'-scenario, and I needn't think about it again. Hopefully.

And The Doctor? I adore him. Energetic, running all over the place like his last three regenerations, quirky like all of them, an irascible, kind, friendly and dangerous genius and a madman with a box who, although he looks human, always remains an alien and an outsider. Matt Smith's portrayal of him fits my idea of The Doctor to a tee, and I love him for it.

Also, I can't blame Amy for her recent lapse of decorum too much, because he is quite cute, really.
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Chris, Raimundo, and D.C.I. Gene Hunt playbacking to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl in the opening sequence of last night's episode of Ashes to Ashes:



Apr. 4th, 2010 01:29 pm
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I wanted to get on here last night straight after watching The Eleventh Hour, but I couldn't be bothered to start up the laptop (and also, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's search for Dorothy came on so I sat back and cringed inwardly as some of the hopefuls butchered my favourite songs by Snow Patrol and Amy Winehouse, and got praised for it), and so I've had to postpone my squee till now. And squee I did. After the disappointment that was Ten's farewell, I was a bit worried that Eleven's introduction might be tainted by it, but thank heavens it was not. The new Doctor, "definitely a mad man with a box", seems full of energy and brilliance, and none of that world-weariness that Ten increasingly carried with him. Perhaps that's because he's "still cooking", as he put it; but I liked that he didn't have time to stop and think about what sort of person he might be now, or fall asleep to recuperate from regeneration, but had to stay awake to focus on the matter at hand which was saving the world in 20 minutes instead. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the series on the strength of this episode, and I want to commend Matt Smith who's already made the role his own. I think I'm going to love his Doctor unreservedly.

Last Friday also saw the return of Ashes To Ashes to our screens, which started off strongly as well; all in all I think it means that television-wise, this spring at least there'll be much to stay in for...which is a bit of an inconvenience as I'm planning a short break in Paris next month (though I've no doubt that shopping for shoes in the French capital of fashion will be its own reward).

I've started on a bout of spring cleaning, and it's amazing how much stuff a person amasses over the years...and then forgets about completely. I've just thrown out every Buffy-related item that's ever appeared in print and that I've kept for no good reason that I can think of, esp. since I've not been actively involved in the fandom for a number of years. It's allowed me to take back three shelves in my bookcases and fill them with books that until recently have had to be stacked on the floor of my study (which I've also reinstated, having finally taken the computer and desk out of my bedroom). I've also bought a new dresser and dedicated it to the housing of my dvd-collection, so that's another mess cleared up. Now all I need to do is find a solution for the storing of my footwear (the boxes are currently stacked knee-high in my bedroom), but this will require some real thought, I'm afraid.
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As I woke up feeling grotty, and neither coffee nor Ibuprofen seemed to do the trick, I called in sick. That is to say, I hope I did; as I have neither my new manager's nor my new department's number and so I left a message on another department's manager's answerphone and am praying that they'll pass it on. Note to self: must get manager's number.

Because I didn't find out the Beeb had changed the schedule for Material Girl to the graveyard slot on Wednesday night, instead of its usual prime time Thursday night slot, I missed the last episode and went to bed grumpy last night. Maybe I should get one of those Swedish identity cloak thingemajigs and see if I can't get the iPlayer to work for me that way? Though it seems like too much of a to do just to watch one programme...Wonder if there's going to be a second series? I hear the reviews have not been kind.

Speaking of tv, tonight's the 25th anniversary of EastEnders, which means I've been watching this soap for quarter of a century. I can't say I've never missed an episode; in fact, I think I've missed quite a few over the years, but I've always come back to it even if I do tend to lose interest at certain times. Tonight's going to be the big reveal of who killed Archie Mitchell, but frankly, whoever it turns out to be, I couldn't give a rat's arse. I'm sure it can't be Bradley Branning, nor Janine Butcher though.

Janine Butcher...she used to be one of my favourite characters, before she came back; and I must admit, she's again so now; but I do wonder what's happened to her conversion to Judaism since her return. She never mentions it anymore, never insists on being called Judith as she did in the first two or three weeks of her return to Albert Square, doesn't keep shabbos, has gone back to ordering bacon sarnies in the caff...I think it's a pity. I can only remember there having been two other Jewish characters in Walford over the course of the years, Felix the barber and Dr. Legg; neither of whom has ever had much of a storyline.

But my all-time favourite character is Dot Branning, Dorothy Cotton as was. I dread the day when she's made to leave the show or decides enough's enough, because she must be getting on in years; and there does seem to be a tendency to pull in a younger audience by bringing in more and more teenagers. What other purpose is there for a new character like Zsazsa or those boys she hangs out with (I forget their names)? It's not as if there werent't any established younger characters like Peter and Lucy in it already.

Anyway, even if I don't care who ultimately killed Archie Mitchell (I'm far more interested in finding out if anyone remembers Owen under the remembrance tree, and the evil Pentecostal minister Lucas to stand revealed as a lying hypocrite/murdering scumbag), I will be watching tonight!
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It's been a while since I did one of these! Gacked from [ profile] jonesiexxx:

TV meme )
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I spent the day in A&E; not because I'd hurt myself, but because I'd received a phone call from the care home this morning explaining that my dad was peeing blood and they wanted me to take him down there and have it checked out. Five hours of hanging around, then he was sent home again with one vitamin K tablet and the advice to stop his blood thinners.

Oh well. I suppose they know best, even if he is still passing more blood than urine.

On the upside, though: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency tonight! I'm seriously smitten with this series.

No pressure

Jun. 1st, 2008 03:58 pm
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A few days ago, I received notification that the care home my father has been residing in for the last five years is to close on Oct 1st. Apparently, the accommodation, facilities and resources have fallen below the presentday standard and there isn't enough money in the kitty to alter the units and to hire and train more staff. After looking at various alternatives, the company that owns the building and provides the care for the elderly residents has decided to close it and tear it down. This means that in addition to having to find myself a new job, I also have to find my father and his cat a new place to live before the summer is out.

Mick's run away from home again this week, and my sister is frantic with worry, and not a little bit angry with him for leaving her in the lurch as far as the picking up of his little brother from school is concerned. I don't know; Mick will be 20 years old soon -- perhaps it's time he let go of her apron strings. We hear he's made his way to Utrecht, and has crashed with a mate of his there. I'm sure he'll come back once his savings or his welcome's run out, whichever comes first.

And I was pleased as Punch to see Jodie win the role of Nancy in this year's West End musical competition, although I do worry for her that the producer so obviously wanted Jessie for the part.
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My favourite Nancies are: Jodie and Sarah.
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The last episode in the first series of Ashes to Ashes aired last night, and it was a good one. I'd thought perhaps Evan would turn out to be the bad guy, but it was someone I'd never even considered. I can't wait to see what happens next season -- I grew to like DCI Gene Hunt in Life on Mars, but I came to adore him in this new series. Now what will I do on a Thursday evening?

The pilot episode for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency impressed me enormously, and again, I can't wait for next year to see more.

The trailers for the new Doctor Who have persuaded me that this next series may be worth watching again. I'm certainly going to give it a chance.
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Christmas Day started early round mine's with me putting on a last minute spring cleaning in the depths of winter, which was just as well as my first guest (my mother) arrived shortly before noon. As she's a member of a small faith community with only one minister catering to several churches/places of worship in the area, of course she'd gone to the wrong church for this year's Christmas service, and then decided she might as well come and get in my way help me with my preparations.

My sister and the kids arrived right on time for drinks and nibblies, my spring rolls and deep fried shrimp in batter, the salmon and smoked eel. Romeo was disappointed to find my telly wasn't working (and failed to see it was because I had unplugged it from the socket); I'm afraid I've dropped a few points in his estimation, but not only do I believe he's watching far too much television as it is, I also believe, and I believe this most strongly, that when people come round for a social occasion, the idiot box should be off. However, I will allow exceptions to confim the rule -- and yesterday's exception was the The Voyage of the Damned Doctor Who Christmas special, which my relatives had been informed they would be obliged to watch with me if they wanted to have dinner at my place.

I'm not made of stone though, so I put in The Polar Express-dvd I'd gotten a few weeks back, and kept my littlest nephew amused and out of mischief for a while.

Christmas dinner was a cracking success, thanks in large part to the Raymond sisters' recipe for cheese & cranberry pasties, which turned out exactly as promised: quick, easy, and delicious. I served them with a chicory salad with a capers and anchovies dressing; roasted asparagus with cherry tomatoes and olives (both straight out of one of Jamie Oliver's cookery books); and Brussels sprouts, for that traditional Christmassy touch. For dessert, I treated them to red fruit tartelettes with vanilla-mascarpone cream; then followed that course with one of handmade (not by me) chocolate pralines, coffee and liqueur.

So after dinner we sat around and watched Doctor Who which left my mother, my sister and Romeo unimpressed. I...kinda liked it; or rather, I liked the idea of the Titanic as a spaceship, and Richard Bucket as a befuddled alien with a degree in Earthonomics. It explains a lot about how he could stay married to Violet all those years...or it would have done had The Doctor actually abandoned him on earth sometime in the latter half of the previous century.

Romeo and my sister helped me do the washing up, and after a few more drinks, they all left. I stayed up for a little while longer, during which I watched the To The Manor Born one-off Christmas special (somehow not as funny as I'd hoped), then tumbled into bed exhausted.

It hasn't been a bad Christmas, this.
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Last weekend, I spotted a brown and purple checkered winter jacket with a faux fur trimmed hood hanging forlornly on its own on a rack in the back of the sportswear section in one of my fair city's department stores. As my current winter coat has become two sizes too big for me now that I've lost weight, I was tempted to try it on. It fit perfectly, and I was pleased to see that it was marked down so it wouldn't be too big a drain on my finances, but I wasn't too sure about the colour combination, so I put it back and walked away from it. I came back to it the next day. Again I tried it on. Again I decided I liked it. Again, I didn't buy it. But I kept thinking of it all through the following days.

Here in The Hague, Thursday evenings is late night shopping. "I wonder if that jacket's still there?", I said to myself...and lo and behold! it was. Clearly, this was meant to be. I took it to the counter, and found to my surprise that it had been marked down even more since I'd last tried it on the previous Sunday.

I took my other coat in to be altered this afternoon. I told the tailor there's no real hurry; I've already got a replacement. He told me I can come pick it up next week. I've been going through my wardrobe, chucking out all the clothes I can't wear anymore because they're too big for me. Some of these I've worn only once. Others, I haven't had a chance to wear at all. I'll take them to one of those collection points tomorrow; then maybe someone else will get to enjoy them.

Also, I'll need to go shopping for Sinterklaas presents tomorrow. Romeo, although very nearly 6, still believes the Holy Man rides across the rooftops on Dec 5th to drop his presents down the chimney, and so the whole family has to gather together to witness this magical event. Of course, we will all be distracted and miss the exact moment again, as we do each year, but my nephew won't mind as he'll be too busy opening all his packages and shouting out his thanks to Sinterklaas with each wrapper that comes off. Too bad though that for me it means I'll miss the Heroes-finale. Perhaps I should ask Sint to give me the S1 dvd?


Oct. 11th, 2007 05:29 pm
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I've bought a dress! You may not realise what a big deal this is, but it's the first dress I've bought in ages. I couldn't wear them, you see. This dress, it's figure-hugging and clingy, and I feel comfortable and confident in it -- sexy, even. I've studied myself from every angle and I'm so happy with what I see. No rolls of fat showing anywhere! I wish I could show you a picture, but although I've tried, I just can't take a clear head-to-toe picture of myself. However, some of you may see me wear it to one of next month's gigs, because it's so coming with me on tour.

After a few night's pouring over blueprints and doing some mental juggling, I've finalised the floorplan for our office move, and everyone in our department that needs a fixed desk will have one complete with all the paraphernalia that goes with it: the phone lines, the network cables, the PCs, the printers, the cupboards and whatnot. But most importantly, I've managed to secure us office spaces full of natural light, which we are sadly lacking in our current place of work. I've also managed to claim more space than we actually need -- no small feat when the whole building of limited space is moving to make room for 600 new colleagues who have had to vacate their premises because the lease was up and HP didn't care to renew the contract. I presented the plan to my co-workers this morning, and luckily there was only one person not happy with the space I had in mind for him, but then I swapped him over with someone else who didn't mind where he sat, and voilĂ ! All done.

Chris Eccleston in Heroes: fantastic!
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As I walked into my favourite department store this afternoon and saw how busy it was, I could smack myself upside the head. I'd completely forgotten about the annual '3-day Silly Sale' which closed yesterday, despite having drawn countless circles around the picture of the DVD I've been wanting and looking for for a very long time in the promotional brochure that came through my letterbox last week. Now my only option is to order it from Amazon at a much inflated price. If my memory hadn't let me down, I could have been watching Peter Brooke's Mahabharata this very moment.

I first saw this film in 1990, when it was shown on TV in its entire length, while most of my compatriots were watching the Europe Cup final on the other channel. I think Italy won that year. I didn't care; I was totally transfixed by the programme I was watching. To date, I still think that was the best day's telly I've ever seen.

Oh well. Top Gear tonight!

New header

Sep. 30th, 2007 06:28 pm
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...courtesy of [ profile] iconzicons. I wish I could do the thing more justice, but we've already established in the past that my LJ customising skills are negligent in the extreme.

In recent weeks, I too have joined the growing ranks of Heroes-fans worldwide. I haven't yet reached that point where one starts to slash characters, but if and when I do I'm sure Noah Bennet will be one of my prime candidates. Possibly with Matt Parkman. Or Mohinder Suresh.

Not with Hiro Nakamura though, who is my favourite overall character. And definitely not with Zach, as that would violate 6A's rules. ::dons halo::


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