Monday, March 31, 2008

Sun-shiney Day

Days like today, always worry me a bit; in the back of my mind, because I've had a really nice day off, the rest of the week will be shite.

For Boy and I had a lie-in, read we got up at 8 am, rather than 7. Gee came round for a cup of coffee and a natter, after we put the world to rights we agreed we'd go out to the new and re-vamped Cinema City to see Guillermo del Torro's The Orphanage in the evening. Boy and I then spent the next two hours trying to get across the city (by bus) to the Post Office's Sorting Office, to pick up a letter/parcel that the sender didn't pay enough postage. The people in the snazzy, new bus station sent us to the bus that kind of goes near where the Sorting Office is, after a leisurely walk. When we got on the bus to ask the kind driver to drop us off at the nearest stop, he shook his head and said 'you wanted the Number 11, but only goes every hour." He did drop us off at the right place and we did pick up the A4 letter, with no postage containing my contract with the PCH.


Boy and I then caught the Number 11 back to the city and walked to the Garden Centre on the Ring Road for a coke and some more plants. My plants are not only alive *gasp, shock*, they are actually doing really well, so I wanted some more. I did manage to control myself and not get a trolley and put in pansies, violets, bellis and three types of lavender. Instead, I got an ivy, a French tarragon, thyme and a small dill. I'm still thinking about getting some lilies, maybe even a few tomatoes, peppers and aubergine to put in a grow-bag. Not to mention the lovely orchids I saw.

Boy and I tend to play Eye-spy when we travel and are bored. I've noticed that when we do play, people in ear-shot start looking around and you can just see them itching to join in, but not being brave enough. Which is a shame, because it can be quite fun. We don't play by the rules, you can ask questions and get hints. I always ask 'is it clean?' Boy likes to be obscure.

The best of Eye-spy today was:
S for skin
C for clouds
R for rings
P for pavement
S for shops
D for dust
T for tickets

The Orphanage is a gothic tale (I knew this was so because of the creaky house and bad weather). I'm the wrong person to ask if it was scary because I spent a bit of time hiding under Gee's armpit. I have no tolerance for scary bits, no matter how obvious, cliched or over-done they might be - I still squeak and jump. It was beautifully shot, and the acting was good. However, it was a touch predictable and everything was well flagged and over-explained. I suspect del Torro would have found Pan's Labyrinth exceptionally difficult to follow and whatever he would have done, it would not have been able to match it in terms of beauty, horror and enchantment.

Tomorrow I go to work, so I'll let you know if my superstitions were justified.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yes Prime Minister Clip - Who Reads the Papers

There has never been a better political satire than this. Many thanks to cogidubnus for sending it my way. It's fabulous.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Alright Now

Hi, it's me. I had a really good self-pity session, complete with a bottle of lovely red wine and Love Actually. I cried through all of the soppy bits, staggered off to bed and woke up to the sound of my Viking lugging his bags in. He just finished a night-shift and drove straight down to see me. Bless him. I made him coffee, gave him biscuits and tucked him up in bed. An eleven-hour shift through the night does tend to take it out of him. I was fine emotionally. I'd obviously just needed to get it off my chest. Unfortunately, it took me until well past mid-day to stop feeling fragile courtesy of the red wine.

Today, I've been in Cambridge for my first ever product briefing. The PCH is about to launch this dead-exciting anti-wrinkle cream and we were given pots of that and the eye cream - I'll let you know how well they work in due course. We also were given details of the product launches for the next 3 months. It's all terribly exciting really. Lots of bright, retro colours to go with our impressive range of summer products and sun care. I'm going to have lots of fun trying out these different looks. Though I'm not convinced by the lime-green lip gloss or bright orange nail polish.

I am such a freebee tart. I was practically jumping up and down when we went into the room and there on our places were the boxes of moisturiser and eyecream. We also got given this fab goodie bag crammed full of stuff. I can't wait to try it all out. I know it's terribly shallow, but I just can't help myself.

I was so nervous today, I had to go to the training by myself and I didn't know anyone else there. I met up with some of the girls from PCHs in other stores. They were so sweet, they made me feel so welcome and not at all out of place. We chatted all the way there and back on the train, they were such a laugh. I am still amazed by the women who work in the cosmetics industry. Having been assassinated several times by women in offices and their office politics, I am still a bit wary of working with women. But these ladies are not only glamorous, they're also approachable, funny and warm. I feel lucky working with them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Both Sides Now

I do not often suffer from loneliness. In fact, I'm sure sometimes my friends must think I'm bloody unsociable, I'd rather stay in wrapped up in my pink fluffy dressing gown, rather than down the pub, necking back the pints. I usually look forward to Boy's weekend away, it gives both of us a break, some breathing space and when he returns we have lots of hugs and news to share. I can hole up happily on a weekend, enjoy my duvet, do nothing for a whole weekend.

It was different this weekend. Boy had gone off to his dad's, my Viking was busy saving the world oop North and I had Easter Sunday all to myself. I didn't really want to go home Saturday evening after I finished at work, I'm sure part of that was yet another damp, cold walk home. The cat did her best to try to cheer me up, but only succeeded in irritating me. Sunday was no better really. I was busy enough, did laundry, pottered around cleaning and tidying. I was determined not to sulk, but the more determined I was, the more I did.

Then I realised what was wrong. My Self-Pity Gnome wanted to come and play.

Actually, the Self-Pity Gnome had been hanging around for some time now and as much as I've been trying to ignore it, it's been determined to have my attention. I suppose going to one of my Ex's wedding sparked things off. He and his bride looked so happy and I was so pleased for both of them. I like celebrating good things and marriage is a milestone that definitely needs to be celebrated properly. It was a real pleasure to see the couple together, I do wish them all the best.

My Self-Pity Gnome isn't at all about them and I really find it difficult to put my finger on it. I suppose I'm grieving for a time in my life when I still thought I was invincible. A time when I thought there was nothing I couldn't achieve. When certainty was a part of my language. Then life happened. I realise I've lost that faith in the future as far as relationships are concerned. It won't ever be me again. And I wish, so much it hurts, it could be me. But it won't be.

I'm too set in my ways, too wary.I don't want any more children. I don't want to play Happy Homemaker. My goal is to find a path that will enable me to find employment which pays the bills and is interesting at the very least. I've been far too reliant in the past, it's time to be properly independent. I'm trying to focus on the things I have on a day-to-day basis. I am healthier, happier and more capable than I've been in a long, long time; if ever. There are many good things about my life which I do not take for granted. I suppose I just can't help but mourn the loss of that more innocent me.

I have healthier relationships these days.

Even if it does mean I spend time dancing at ex-boyfriend's weddings.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I'm sat here in my pink fluffy dressing gown staring out the window. It's snowing. Today, I've decided to partake in the national past-time: grumbling about the weather. In the last week, I'm hard pressed to remember when I walked to work and didn't get soaked. On Friday, one of my shoes decided to change career and become a sandal, which in freezing cold rain is just not considerate.

I get soaked on the way in to work because I walk, don't suggest an umbrella, because it's just not practical. By the time I'd be finished fighting with it, I'd put it down and forget where I left it. And there isn't anywhere to dry the damned thing at work either. Our locker room is permanently freezing. So I arrive wet, hang my coat up, other people hang their coats up over mine; when it's time to go home, my coat is merely damp and cold, rather than sopping.

Watching the snow meander from the clouds, settling on the pavement, it covers everything in a white woolly blanket. It's so pretty: from the inside. I'm going to have to make an excursion to return Gee's book and I'll take my camera with me for any photo-opportunities. But I must admit, I'm a bit fed-up with Winter. I'd like some sunshine please. Warmth to seep into my bones. I'm looking forward to opening my front door and windows to let in the fresh Spring air. I've done my Spring Clean, I've got my hayfever medication all ready and raring to go, I am ready for a change.

Friday, March 21, 2008


As I squelched, sloshed and dripped my way home after work I considered the efficacy of the hideously expensive creams, lotions and potions that I must sell in order to earn my daily bread. Firstly, I need to say, I am not a good salesperson.

The definition of a good sales person is someone who could sell double glazing, insurance, curtain rings and it make no difference to them or their bottom line at the end of the month.

I can only sell things that I am happy to recommend. Hence, I could sell Miller Harris, which is not what you would call cheap by any means; but I love the product. I believe it does everything it says on the tin and it comes with minimal bullshit.

So here I am working on a counter that has a line of products that will set you back thus:
cleanser £50
toner £50
eye cream £110
face cream £160

(If you are still sat in your chair and your jaw isn't in your lap, would you please consider donating to my MA fund?)

I have been talking to various colleagues about it and peering intently at their skin. Given that some of these ladies have waved goodbye to their menopause in the last decade and they still look like they've just turned 49, would suggest that there really is something in it.

I've been examining my customers' skin and I am beginning to believe that you really can tell the difference between a woman who looks after her skin and a woman who doesn't. I suppose at the end of the day life and gravity will take their toll on skin and the rest of our bodies, and while my products won't promise to turn back time, they do promise to keep the absolute worst at bay.

Given that everyone is struggling financially thanks to the rise in ultility bills, petrol and food, is it worth spending £45 on a jar of cream? I can't answer that. I suspect that if money is tight, spending as much as you can comfortably afford won't be money wasted.

But then I would say that, wouldn't I?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Return of the Tracks

This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Last week, I was munching on a mint - a necessary evil to avoid killing customers with coffee breath - and it went crunch, crunch, *crunch*. Bugger. I broke a molar. Now, my relationship with dentists aren't terribly good. I did have a dentist on the North Norfolk coast, but since I don't have access to a car, I haven't been to see her for over two years. I've tried dentists in the city with limited success. The dentist at the university seemed to be the 'old school' type; he had limited technology and liked to cause pain. Another dentist seemed to find it unusual that I didn't want to make two appointments, one for the check-up and the other for the scale and polish. How quaint was I wanting to get it over and done with?

I logged on to the NHSD website and did a search for NHS dentists in my postcode. I had a nice list of practices to ring, until I started reading the small print. Most were not accepting new patients, or NHS patients and/or both. I decided to follow Gee's advice and rang her dentist, on the off-chance they could see me. The cheerful receptionist said they'd be happy to take me on, but could only see me in April, when I explained my mishap with the mint, I got to see the dishiest dentist Tuesday morning.

To cut a long, and largely unpleasant story short, he poked about for a bit, decided to do a scale and polish while he was at it and then suggested that part of my problem was that my bite was off, I've got an over-crowding problem and would I consider braces?

I had braces in my teens. Not an entirely happy or satisfactory experience, largely my fault for not maintaining good oral hygiene. Crooked teeth run in the family, because Boy is about to start his course of orthodontics. So I thought about it and said, yes.

I'll need to be refered to the specialist, and I'm not entirely sure I can afford it at the moment, but it'll be something that will be worthwhile, especially if I don't have problems with pesky mints ever again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Don't Bank On It

Dear Halifax bank customer,
We have implemented security measures consistent with our internal information security practices to help us keep your information secure. These measures include technical and procedural steps to protect your data from misuse, access or disclosure, loss, alteration or destruction.
One of these security measures is HOF (Halifax Online Form) to help us to keep your personal and banking data up to date.
You should complete HOF on a regular basis.
Please complete HOF using the link below:
Halifax Automated Mail Service. Please do not respond to this mail.


Well, I'd be really happy to give all of my personal details to these lovely people, except for one slight detail. I'm not a Halifax customer and haven't been since 1997, well before the e-mail address they sent this to existed.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Plea from the Heart

I was recently unfaithful to Facebook and signed up to, which is another social networking website. What can I say, I was curious and thought I'd give it a go. And I'm so pleased I did. Today, after I limped back from work, I got an e-mail saying there was some 'activity' on my page. Curious about this activity I had a look and I thought I would share it with you.



permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. i have the believe you are a reputable and responsible and trustworthy person I can do business with from the little information so far I gathered about you during my search for a partner and by matter of trust I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere business.
I am Stella Amah 21 years of age the only daughter of late Mr Boni Amah whom was killed by the rebels that attacked our country cote d'Ivoire west Africa and took over our town (BOUAKE).
I ran to Abidjan the economical capital of cote d'ivoire from were I am contacting you.
Before the death of my father he told me that he has a sum of US$9,000,000(Nine million united states dollars) kept in a private security company here in cote d'ivoire in my name as the next of kin,

Dear, in the capacity of the next of kin and with all the documents in my hand now, I am contacting you with due sence of humanity that you will give it a sympathetic and mutual consideration.

I am honourably seeking your assistance in the following ways.

(1)To serve as the guardian of this fund and to come assist me visit the security company here to retrive the consignment.

(2)To make arrangement for me to come over to your country to further my education and to secure a residential permit for me in your country.

(3)To provide good investment plans for the fund and to manage the fund for 5 years, during the investment period,only our profit will be shared annually 70% for me the investor while 30% will be for you the fund manager annually.

Moreover, I am willing to offer you 15 % of the total sum as compensation for your effort /input after the successful transfer of this fund to your nominated account overseas, before the investments starts.and I have maped 5% for any expenses that might be incured during the courseof this transaction.

furthermore, you can indicate your option towards assisting me as I believe that this transaction would be concluded within a stipulated period of time you signify your interest to assist me.
Anticipating hearing from you immediately.

Thanks and God bless.
Best Regards.
Stella Amah.

I've got to go now, I'm packing for the Cote d'Ivoire.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good News Story

Check this article out on the BBC news website. Could this be the resurrection of common sense? The back-lash against the Americanized Claims Culture?

I do hope so.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Today, I tried Lancome's Poeme (my apologies to this French company, I haven't figured out quite how to get accents in Blogger). It was a trip down memory lane. I bought this fragrance in 1999. It's quite light, a well rounded floral which marked my transition from scabby Development Studies graduate, to local government employee. In that period, the millenium was a reality, a relationship ended and a not-a-very-bright relationship began. When I smelt it on my wrists, it felt like a touch of innocence had been returned to me. Since that time I've grown up quite a bit from the mistakes I've made. And after all of that, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

The foul weather was less successful at keeping people away, than it had in the beginning of this week. I was able to work on my link-selling skills and to try doing make-ups on colleagues and friends who popped in. What has taken me by surprise is the support I've been getting from the women on the counters, they've been giving me tips and hints and encouragement when I've been obviously disappointed with my figures.

Last year, you will remember I waxed lyrical about a Boots nail polish. Last summer, I went a bit mad and bought loads of colours from Boots and Rimmel and my nails really suffered. They literally began to flake off. I also was disappointed with the way the nail polish lasted. It scratched and lost it's gloss really quickly. Last week, I gave in and bought some expensive polish - it's £9.99 a bottle! Talk about having to steady your nerves. However, it has proven to me that you get what you pay for. It's called O.P.I and it is stunning. My nails are glossy, chip free and look great. How happy am I? By the way, this isn't vanity on my part, it's necessity. I've got to be manicured for work. Basically, I've got to be top totty every day. What fun!

After lunch I came downstairs, sprayed myself liberally with Poeme and stood opposite to my counter, checking out my stock levels. This amazingly tall woman walked past me, stopped, looked at me quizzically.

"I've just smelt something marvellous as I walked past." She says. "It's somewhere around here." She gestures around my area.

"That'll be me," I laughed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm Still Standing

I haven't forgotten you, I've just been a touch busy. I've been finishing up my Spring Clean, which still has Boy shaking me, demanding to know where his mum is and my friends asking subtle questions about my contraceptive use. I've also been getting to grips with my new job.

Many thanks must go to my Viking who took a huge bag of clothing to the charity shop for me. I'm pretty much done now, just got odd bits and pieces to do. My home doesn't look hugely different. I've got the new rugs and planters from IKEA, new potted plants (still living), my desk has boxes on it rather than random piles of paper and when you open the drawer there are more boxes with my shit neatly stuffed inside. I'm almost on top of my admin and have a neat list of arses to kick. My council for forgetting I'm a single-parent, my utilities company - for charging me a fortune for my electricity. I'm still not quite able to make sure we eat a sensible meal and doing a pack-up seems like climbing Mount Everest, but I suppose we're not suffering from rickets yet, so it's not all bad.

I know this housekeeping stuff must seem boring to you who reads my blogs waiting for the next installment of Retail Hell, but it's been a long time coming. I haven't had the inclination or the energy; now I've done it, I feel a real sense of accomplishment of making my flat, my home. It no longer feels like we've had to move back after a disaster. Home. Where the Cat is, where the Boy kills things on the XBox, where the Viking comes to visit to drink tea and make us laugh.

The job at the PCH is still a bit of a blur. I'm still working with the independent department store, a mere three feet from the perfumery department, so things haven't changed that much. I'm getting to know the other cosmetic house girls (the competition) a little better, they give me tips and hints. They've asked me how I feel about the move. To be honest, I'm not sure.

I get to try out loads of make-up and cosmetics, which I'm a totally loving. I get to chat to women, try to get them to spoil themselves a little. I'm learning where things go in the counter, and the paperwork that has to be done in the beginning of the day. I've been putting little bits of make-up on women which I found nerve wracking today, but I stuck with it. My boss is on holiday this week, so in actual fact I've only really had one complete day with her. The rest of the time, I've been on my own. I don't think I've done too badly. The products are absolutely stunning. I've finally got my moisturiser and it is just gorgeous, I'm going to have to keep working for them, just so I can keep myself in creams, lotions and potions. Selling the products is a bit more of an art, I'm learning when to ask open questions, when to ask closed ones. I've also got to get my head around the products and the science behind them. I've been trying out the different mascaras, foundations and eye-liners, with varying results. I do know I really love being a girlie, though I wish I could wear stylish footwear for work. I just can't wear the shoes the other girls do, my feet just can't cope with shoes that aren't sensible.

Anyway, this is just to let you know where I'm at. Nothing terribly exciting going on really. Just trying to find my centre and learning to live well.

Monday, March 03, 2008

End of Days

After 14 months of life in Perfumery, tomorrow I step into the fabulous shoes of a lady on a Prestigious Cosmetic House. It seemed appropriate to take stock of the changes in my life since embarking on my new found employment in Retail.

1. I now have 14 bottles of perfume on my dressing table. They are: Paul Smith - Rose, Flower by Kenzo, Classique edt by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Ralph Lauren - Rocks, Narcisso Rodriguez - for her edp, Un Jardin en Mediterranee by Hermes, Eclat d'Arpege by Lanvin, Rumeur by Lanvin, Maitresse by Agent Provocateur, Addict 2 by Dior, Stella by Stella McCartney, Prada tendre, Geranium Bourbon by Miller Harris and Voile de Fleur by Tom Ford. And there's always room for one more.

2. I now have 2 baskets of make-up and cosmetics and working for my PCH I will have to replace all of my random brands with theirs. I now know why a serum is important under a moisturiser and why investing in a decent foundation brush is more important than the foundation. I totally love being a girlie.

3. I can sell. Perhaps a bit obvious, but I've found something I'm really good at. Yes, I would rather have been the next JK Rowling, but I've got bills to pay and retail is an easy way. Rather that, than doing reception in an accountants office.

4. It does not seem unreasonable to me to dust some powder over my cheeks and slap some gloss on to go to the shops.

I have no idea where this side step will take me, hopefully to bigger and brighter things, at the very least it will keep the roof over our heads for a little bit longer. Was this what I wanted for myself when I struggled through two degrees? No, not really. But at the end of each tirin, frustrating day, I'm knackered, but still a damned sight happier than when I was properly employed in Local Government.

Waiting for Paint to Dry

Yesterday evening, I thought I'd finished the triptych. I kicked back, drank a glass of raspberry beer and contemplated my work. As I co...