Shakespeare Is Overrated

Title page of the First Folio, by William Shak...
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Looking for work is my job these days.  If I’m not searching online/offline for vacancies, I’m sending out speculative letters with a copy of my CV, or writing about doing such things.  On Fridays, I go to a job club, which involves sitting around and eating biscuits with other unemployed people.

We talk about goal-setting, and confidence-building and what’s been on television.

Now, I have goals.  And confidence.   I think big.  And outside the box.  I even think outside the big box.

My issue is getting my foot (and my wheels) in the door.  Preferably one with nice people and a job that lets me use my brain on the other side of said door.

But I like Fridays.  There is focus and free biscuits and the chance that more doors may open.

There is also the chance to re-do the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire.  I can officially add ‘consistent’ to my list of positive traits.  I got the same score as last time I took it, years ago.  I’m an INFJ.  I should be a writer.  Other INFJs include Shakespeare, Billy Crystal and Eleanor Roosevelt.

I always thought Shakespeare was overrated.  Maybe because we have the same personality type. (Please note, I am not comparing myself to Shakespeare.  But the computer did.)

What’s your type?  Find out here.

If you’re an INFJ, perhaps we should get together for coffee and biscuits.

100 Books Or Bust: 70 Minutes

Cover of "I Was Amelia Earhart"
Cover of I Was Amelia Earhart

In the time it took Sarge to read one chapter of Ulysses, I started and finished I Was Amelia  Earhart, recommended by DB over at Getting in Touch with my Inner Basket Case.

This book was a blink.  A very poetic blink.  I wanted it to be longer, but I realise now the length was perfect for the story, the moments.

It reminded me of any books read in any year of High School English.  This is part of its charm.

I would recommend it for anyone who likes adventure, dreams and quick reads.

So far:

1.       Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire – Best one of the series so far.

2.       The Lacuna – Best one of the year for me, so far.

3.       The Slap – This one didn’t piss me off as much as I thought it would.  Still not very good.  Weak review, coming from me.  But that’s all I can say.

4.       A Very Private Gentleman – I loved this one.  Made me want to go back to Italy.  And back to the bookstore to get the copy of this book that doesn’t have George Clooney’s face on it.  Nothing wrong with his face, I just think movie tie-in covers don’t leave enough to the imagination.

5.       I Was Amelia Earhart – Dreamy.  Although the fact I read it right before going to sleep could have had something to do with the atmosphere it had for me.

95 to go!

What do you think I should read?  (If you’ve already suggested something, it’s on the list.)  Give me more!

For the fun of it, I’ll read anything anyone suggests!




Where Sweaters Go To Die

A few months after I got my favourite pen, my Dad packed it and the rest of my life into the car and drove me down to University.  As The Dixie Chicks blasted out of the speakers and through the open windows, I was as excited as I’d ever been up to that point in my life.  Scared shitless, but excited.

Pretty much ever since then, I’ve employed Personal Assistants to help me do any of the stuff that can be done while I still have bed-head.  And then they help me tame the bed-head.

I’ve never had a fundamental problem with paying people to help me do things; it is a fact of my life.  And it helps me live it.  Some of my PAs have ended up friends after we stopped working together.  I wouldn’t have met these wonderful people if I hadn’t had to hire them first.

I do have an issue with the fact with every house-move I’ve made my hours/funding has been cut.  I will still have bed-head, whether I wake up in Glasgow or Edinburgh.  No matter where I am, I will always need help in the shower, will always poke myself in the eye while putting mascara on.  And really, who wants to do that?  My mascara would last a lot longer if Social Work Departments/Councils would let me keep all my hours.

While I wait to be re-assessed after every move I have to rely on assistance from the Council which I have no control over.  Any number of people can come into my house, do what they want and leave when they want.

A few years ago, while waiting for my Direct Payments to be re-instated after a move, Council help would come in at 6.45am in order to ensure that I’d be ready for work.  At 10.00.  It doesn’t take me that long to get ready, even with the bed-head.  But that was the time people were ‘available’ to do’ me.  I had to take it.

I will never forget this exchange, at 6.45 on a rainy morning:

Stranger Who Had To See Me Naked:  What’s wrong with you?

Me:  What?  Oh, I haven’t had my coffee yet.  I’m not a morning person.

SWHTSMN:  I meant the scars.  Were you shot?

Me:  What?  No.  If you’re looking for my medical diagnosis, which isn’t any of your damn business, I have CP.  Those are surgery scars.

SWHTSMN:  I know someone who has that.  He’s worse than you.  You can do more.

Me:  Shall I stand on my head and spit nickels as well?

I could write several very long books about working with a varied range of people over the years.  I won’t, because I have other books to write.  If I did I’d call it Shit My PA Says.  Stuff like:  Look UP, don’t blink!  Is that how your hair is supposed to look? And the famous catch-all phrase:  Uh-oh.  ‘Uh-oh’ can mean so many things.  I broke your favourite mug.  You’ve run out of coffee.  I accidently vacuumed the cat.

A few weeks ago I heard that ever-interesting ‘Uh-oh!’  I braced myself and followed the trail of mumblings.  I went into the kitchen, and there was my PA (a lovely lady from an agency I’m using until next week when two lovely new people start.  Employed directly by me.)

Back to the kitchen, and Lovely Lady is holding up one of the sweaters my Mom made for me.  It was decidedly smaller than I’d known it to be.

Lovely Lady:  It shrunk!

Me:  I put it in the hand-wash pile.  It wasn’t supposed to go in the machine.

LL:  It must have escaped!  Maybe it’ll stretch!

Me:  It won’t.

LL:  You can wear it as a belly-top!

Me:  You’ve seen my belly.  That ain’t gonna happen.  And I’m nearly 30 years old.  Even when I wore belly-tops, I never wore belly-tops.

That sweater is the latest of 3 hand-washers that have ‘escaped’ into the washing machine in recent times.

I consider myself a fair boss.  Fairer than most.  New people I work with should know a few things about me:

I am monosyllabic until I have my coffee.

I don’t carry on conversations while I’m brushing my teeth.

I know my hand-wash-only sweaters don’t put themselves in the washing machine.

If we cover those points early on, we’ll get along just fine.  And the new people are starting just in time; I’m running out of sweaters.

Sarge holing up a wayward sweater.

100 Books Or Bust: Words And Wisdom

‘I enjoy books.  No room is fit for occupation without a lining of books.  They contain the condensed experiences of humanity.  To live fully, one has to read widely.  I do not intend to face a man-eating lion in the African veld, fall from an aircraft into the Arabian Sea, soar through outer space or march with the legions of Rome against Gaul or Carthage, yet books can take me to these places, to these predicaments.’

A Very Private Gentleman (filmed as The American), Martin Booth

When I was a kid and would announce to anyone who would listen that I was bored, my Nana would say, ‘Go read a book!’  So I did.

You should, too.


Back-seat Baking: Chocolate Maple Syrup Brownies

I got Sarge a slow-cooker for Christmas.  It was not used in the making of these brownies.  Recipe adapted from another found on the internet.


  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • 1 large bar (100g) of dark chocolate (we used Green and Black’s 70% cocoa, because it’s tasty.)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon 100% cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch cinnamon powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix the butter and chocolate together in a pan at low heat, stir a bunch.  Set aside to cool once melted.

Pre-heat the oven to oven to 160°C.

Put the eggs into a mixing bowl, and beat.  This is the part I get Michael Jackson’s Beat It running through my head.

Mix the salt, sugar, maple syrup, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and cinnamon in, whisk until mixed, then mix some more.  And then mix in the butter/chocolate and vanilla.  Chopped nuts could be added, but I am a brownie purist.

Pour the thoroughly mixed mixture into a greased baking tray, and then another when you discover the first one’s not big enough. Put that one the oven for approx 45 minutes, with optional white sugar at the top, which should melt into a glaze.

Photographic evidence:

As taste-tester and reporter, I must say that this has been the most successful Back-seat Baking experiment yet!  They actually look like brownies!

100 Books Or Bust

I eat books.  I am actually addicted to books, and reading them.  My two giant bookcases are three rows deep.  There is a stack by my bed, and in the office.  And at least four books on any other free surface in the house.  I put them there, anywhere, when deciding ‘what to read next’, and I don’t put them back, leading to quite random clusters throughout the house.  Sarge calls me the book-dropper, he can find me anywhere by following the trail of books.  I call him the book dealer, as we now share books and I have his collection to peruse.

Before the bookcases!

I am slightly obsessed with lists of books, like the New York Times 100 Notable Books of any given year, or the Man Booker Prize shortlist (and longlist), and the Orange Prize for Fiction.  And every time I read about a good book on NPR books, I want to read it Right Now.

With those lists, and my favourite authors, and my book group books, and Sarge’s books, and my thing for well-written memoirs, I am sure that I will reach a 100 books read in a year.  This is a target I’ve been setting myself since 2006.  Last year I read 28.  This year I will read 100.  I’ve set myself this personal challenge on Goodreads.  I typed ‘100’ where it said: ‘I will read ___ books this year.’ So there it is.

So far this year I’ve read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – After years of saying I wouldn’t read the series, I’m now reading it.

The Lacuna – My favourite book of the year, so far.

Currently reading The Slap, which I keep calling ‘The Bitch Slap’.

On deck we have:

Let The Right One In

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

And after that, who knows?  Everything else!

What books would you recommend I read?

What are your reading goals for 2011?

Anyone else up for the challenge of 100?  Or 50, or 25?  Or 10?

Happy reading!