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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

27 April 2002

If I had been alive One Hundred Years Ago, I would apparently have been a secretary. I would have left school at 13, and worked until I had my first child. I would have spent my weekends in town browsing department stores and tea shops. I'd employ two servants to help me clean my "pretty villa", which includes parlour and little garden, and would bear three children, one of which would die as a baby.

So what they're telling me is, even 100 years ago, I would have been a secretary. I'm going to have to go and find some vodka. Now.

26 April 2002

And in an attempt to track down the number of my relatives that read this, I’m currently getting regular hits from Trinity College and UCD. So fess up, please. Who are you? Please let me know.

I’ve been sitting here trying to sum up the energy to write something for the blog. So far, so nothing. I thought looking around the net might help, but all the commemorations for all the poor sods that died this week is sapping whatever enthusiasm I have left for blogging.

But then, you come across fantastic entries like this one and you remember the point of blogging. I couldn’t possibly have put it better myself.

23 April 2002

Day Two at my new job. The things that I learned today –

1. Everyone sitting in my office is a Scorpio.
2. It is impossible to kiss your own elbow.
3. More people than you think wear red runners in Edinburgh.
4. There’s no panic like the panic you feel when your boss rings you and asks you to step into their office for a moment.
5. Reading a computer screen when you’re drunk is really horrible.

22 April 2002
Day One of my new job. The motto on the desk calendar that I have inherited from the last secretary reads “Set aside a day when everyone’s out and give the house a big spring clean. You'll earn a fistful of Bonus Points and give yourself an all-over workout at the same time.” I now understand why my life has been so difficult up until now: I haven’t been following the rules.

New jobs are always easy on the first day, so I refuse to judge it by that, and will instead comment at the end of the week. Briefly, though, it seems to have given something of a favourable first impression. I’m not really that bothered with it all, you see, because I’ve already got another job. I’ve gone from being unemployed and slightly panicking to having two jobs and having to decide between them. Fabulous.

While I tackle my happy dilemma, I’ll let you all get on with another bit of homework, in the occasional series I like to call Sharon Takes The High Ground. Click on the lovely picture below and you’ll be taken to www.vatcampaign.com.

A brief explanation then, for those of you still listening: Irish charities lose 63 million Euro in VAT to the Irish government each year (proportionately 21% more than businesses in the commercial sector). Unlike the commercial sector, charities cannot reclaim the VAT they pay on vat-able goods and services which means that for every euro they spend, an additional 21 cent returns to the government as VAT. For some charities the VAT bill represents a very high proportion of all the money they generate from fund-raising. This can be a crippling experience and needs to be addressed.

Of course, there's an election coming up. That’s where the fun starts.

The site has collected the email addresses of election candidates country-wide and would like you to sign the online petition and a form letter, which will be emailed to the candidates in your area with almost no effort from you. I know a lot of you out there are Irish, so even if you aren’t resident in Ireland, but importantly haven’t transferred your vote to where you are – you’re still listed on the electoral register.

So go, fill out the form. It takes less than a minute to do, and will count as your good deed for the day.

20 April 2002

I've just spent the last four hours, on the phone and online, writing a ton of reviews of comedy shows for the update of Comedy Lounge that should - fingers crossed (I've near broken all my fingers now, the amount of time I've spent crossing them in the last week) - be going up tomorrow.

In the background, I've had the Robbie Williams film Nobody Someday playing on the telly, and it's horrifying to see just how unhappy he is. Which of course gets you thinking about just how unhappy everybody is. Even doing the one thing he has always wanted to do - headlining his own international tour, playing his own songs with his own band, performing in front of tens of thousands of people, Robbie confesses that he's still waiting for the day when he stops hating everything, and starts to enjoy it. The same, I'm sure, can be said for almost everyone in the world. It certainly applies in my case.

It's a Saturday night, and I'm sat in the house writing up reviews because I don't have any money, I don't have anything better to do, and we have a deadline that is coming up to the two week overdue stage. At times like this, we often start to wonder what we're doing all of this for: why we go through sitting in two days and nights every month writing steadily over the phone and over the net; why we spend all the money travelling around the country to see these shows and talk to these people; why we suffer through the tedium of our day jobs just to make the money so that we can keep travelling around the country doing what we do; why we do what we do. For example: we recently travelled halfway around the country especially to meet up with one fairly famous comedian, in order to carry out an interview that had been promised for the last year and a half. We went out of our way to accomodate their wishes, and to work around their schedule. When we got there, the interview was rescheduled twice, and in the end we spoke briefly to them at 2 in the morning, and had to leave to travel back home early the next day. That was the whole weekend, and a lot of time and money - both of which we can ill afford - completely and utterly wasted.

To say it's a labour of love would be to use a twee and insufficient phrase to describe the stupidity of regularly doing what we do. However, I think that I'm suffering from too much introspection, and the horror of having to accept a job that - more than ever - I really and truly do not want, just because nothing has been going my way for the last two weeks. Basically, I'm having a sulk, that's what's happening. And I swore I'd never do this on the weblog.

Oh well.

18 April 2002

Kylie's pants dropped.

(Do you see?)

Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit.

Their loss, that's what I say.

*sobs in corner*

I’ve got to leave the house. I found this funny, mainly because it’s in another language. They don’t speak the same as me! Hee.

(Just got a message on my mobile which mysteriously didn’t ring, but just directed the call straight through to my message minder. It was from the agency, about the job, but she didn’t say one way or the other. I just rang and she’s out of the office until 4pm. She didn’t sound happy in the message. I don’t think I got the damn job. I’m going to start praying now.)

The internet, as well as being home to vast amounts of pornography and celebrity gossip, is also a wonderful breeding ground for crazy religious mentals who like to spread the word of God. This has, naturally, resulted in them being made fun of as much as possible. There are a lot of God-mocking sites out there, and for that I’m sure we’re all damned to hell. I know I am already – a nun told me so when I was 12 years old.

Anyway, there is one site called I am with you always that explains the idea of Jesus being omnipresent in literal terms – showing us how Jesus is around literally all the time. In handy picture form. I personally prefer this version, with captions.

(No news about the job yet. Arse.)

17 April 2002

Day Eight of selling myself to strangers. In an interviewing sense, I mean. I haven’t got quite that desperate for money. Yet.

Just back from the second interview at the job that I now really really want – I think it went quite well, but judging by yesterday’s performance, I don’t think I’m the right person to rely on for an opinion about these things. I was there for over half an hour, and we didn’t quite so much have an interview as a chat – I even started boring her a bit about Comedy Lounge, but that’s her own fault for asking. She said I should probably hear tomorrow about whether or not I get the job, so lots of fingers crossed.

That means you, dear reader. Cross your fingers. Cross them now. There will be no time later.

16 April 2002

Day Seven in unemployment hell. Another day, another freakin’ job interview. This one went spectacularly badly – I was in and out of the badly decorated office in less than ten minutes, which I always take as a bad sign. Being interviewed by three different people is very difficult, because you don’t know who to project most of your answers too – particularly if they don’t quite define themselves or their role at the beginning. Plus, we all had to sit at this massive round table while I sat at the top in King Arthur’s position and nearly gave myself whiplash trying to look everyone in the eye at the same time.

I walked out of that office and immediately texted two people to tell them just how much I sucked, walked down to the shop, momentarily considered buying cigarettes and instead settled for an ice pop. Sat on a wall eating that and thinking about how rubbish the whole world is, and was just about to set off for yet another interview when my phone rang. It was the agency that had sent me to the disastrous interview, and apparently in the half-hour between me leaving the office and this call, they had offered me the job. Which goes to show just how rubbish a judge I am at how these things go. I shall no longer trust my own opinion.

I don’t know if I’m going to take it – they didn’t seem particularly friendly, the job sounds like a bit of a nightmare and a little bit too similar to the one I just left, and it’s a heck of a long walk from my house to their offices. So I’m going to hang about and see how well tomorrow’s interview goes.

15 April 2002

My Day At Work

Day Six of my kinda unemployment. Do the weekends count, or are you not unemployed when everyone else is at their leisure? I think I’ll choose not to count the weekends, in the same way that I chose not to count the two weeks I was off on holidays for. That way, my unemployment seems minor, and the problem of the money currently hemorrhaging out of my current account doesn’t seem so bleak.

Today, I am temping for the first time in over a year. I had forgotten, in all the time that I was spoilt going to the same place every day for a year, what a combination of adventure and horror temping is – walking up the street, you have absolutely no idea what you’re letting yourself in for, and the working day could bring along anything. Today is a nice introduction back in to the world, as, although I am working on a switchboard – something that usually fills me with horror as I have a habit of cutting off the most important people when they call – it all went smoothly with no monstrous nightmares lurking around the corner to greet me. Although, as I type this, it’s only 10.45am. Perhaps I’m speaking too soon. Who can say?

Out of the window, I have a great view of Edinburgh’s Blue Meanies – that’s the bizarre name they’ve got for the parking metre people here. I don’t know the origin (other than the fact that it’s a Beatles reference) as their uniform is almost entirely black. That’s a job I quite fancy, actually, as long as it’s not raining. Wandering about the streets at your own pace, keeping track of all the cars on your nifty little hand computer thingy and occasionally being threatened with actual bodily harm when the owners come back before you finish writing the ticket. (I think it’s the nifty little hand computer thingy that attracts me to the job, actually. It reminds me of the handset Al gets to use in Quantum Leap.) The standard issue shoes don’t look very comfortable though.

I’ve bought another book. I think I’m becoming addicted. Sitting on my bookshelves, while I celebrate becoming overdrawn for the fifth time in five months, are seven books I have bought first hand and not yet read. Another nine books wave at me from the shelves, all found in charity shops, and all destined to sit on my shelf and not be opened for at least another six months. Is there a Book Buyers Anonymous Twelve Steps programme I could join?

At the moment, I’m reading three books – The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, which I’ve been reading on and off for the past three months; Well Remembered Days by Arthur Matthews, which I started on the plane on the way home to Dublin and haven’t quite picked up again; and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, which is the book currently being hauled around in my bag everywhere I go, and which I am going through at a mile a minute. The thing was, I didn’t want to whip that one out while I sat and shamefacedly ate Vegetarian Sushi in Pret A Manger, because – as we all know – Pret is now a subsidiary of McDonalds, and to sit there and sanctimoniously read the book while adding to their profits would make me look like the fool I really am. So I popped in to a second hand bookshop across the road and to my delight found From Wimbledon to Waco by Nigel Williams (so that’s another one I can scratch off my Amazon Wish List). £1.25 and all the Willams whimsy I could take. Now I’m reading four books, looking for work, trying to keep a regular blog, unsuccessfully running a website (now a week and a day behind schedule), learning to juggle, secretly flat hunting and trying to ensure that I have my RDA of Vitamin C at least once a week.

On a Nigel Williams note – if you haven’t read any of his work, go read The Wimbledon Poisoner and work your way on from there. But do skip Stalking Fiona because it’s absolute rubbish and not worth the paper it’s printed on.

There you go, then. An insight in to my working day. Tomorrow, another interview. Fingers and all other appendages duly crossed, please.

12 April 2002

Just got this link from NTK. It is what appears to be the front page of last Tuesday’s ITV.com. Last Tuesday, of course, being the day the lovely old Queen Mum was buried. Strangely, the weather report seems to spell out the words Die Old Witch.

Update - As usual, I speak too soon. They've just called me back, and now I have an interview with Simpson & Marwick on Tuesday. My suit is getting far too much wear for my liking.

Day Five in the never ending tale of unemployment. Another day, another interview – this time with yet another agency. This lot seemed really keen, and halfway through our little chat, one of the women started yelling across at the rest of the people in the office that I was a “good one” and that I was sure to be “snapped up” soon. Which I decided to take as a good sign. They said a lot of things about job openings and lots of work on the horizon, which I will only believe when I see evidence. Let’s just say the phone hasn’t been exactly ringing off the handset since I got back home.

Good news though – the job interview that I went to yesterday obviously went as well as I had hoped it did, because they contacted the agency this morning to say that they’d like to see me again for a second interview. Apparently, they liked my “bubbly personality”. Which is a word I have never heard before when being applied to me. I think they might be thinking of someone else, but they can’t take back the offer now. Ha. Round Two takes place next Wednesday, when my suffocating suit will get a third airing.

In other news, try to look at this without scoffing. Although you never know. It might work.

11 April 2002

You are Rowlf!
You don't draw attention to yourself much, preferring to keep your cool and stay in the background

Day Four of Sharon Does Dole. Job interview this morning was a very scary experience, as it turned out. As I walked past the building, I looked surreptitiously in through the windows and suddenly realised that I didn't want to be a secretary and didn't want to work in an office, and wanted a job that involved petting puppies and eating chocolate all day (if there's an opening, please email me immediately).

However, I faced my demons and went in to the job interview which – although I’m a crap judge of these kind of things – seemed to go quite well. At least, she asked me questions and I talked extensively, so inside all the utter nonsense I was spouting, some of it must have been relevant. She didn’t fall asleep, or run screaming from the room, so it must have been okay. I should hear at some stage tomorrow whether or not I’m through to the second round (it’s like a bloody competition now), so fingers, heads, shoulders, knees and toes crossed.

In the meantime, I found the following suggestions in my email archives – my friend Lorraine sent them to me last year as suggestions of jobs that I could prevent myself being fired from:-

(a) A job with a boss who has nothing better to do than watch over your shoulder

(b) A job with no email access.

(c) A job where they confiscate your hands in the morning and don't give them back untill you're going home.

(d) A job where they hide the componants of all the computers in different places each day so that by the time you've found them, reassembled them and rebuilt the network, it's going home time.

(e) A job in a cave- i.e. not wired for electricity, therefore no email.

(f) A job underwater [see (e)]. Allow me to suggest diving for oysters.

(g) A job you enjoy that fulfills you and makes a productive day a worthwhile day.

I still say the petting puppies thing is cool.

10 April 2002

My sister, like all good and great people, has a fabulous gay best friend, and likes to imagine that she lives in a world that is the direct reflection of Sex and The City, except set in Dublin. Yay to her, I say. I, in turn, seem to be developing a fetish for weblogs written by gay men. Here is another one. Which, fabulously, seems to be organising a game of BlindDateBlog. And until Big Brother comes back in May, that’s all I’ve got to look forward to.

My God, the sudden excitement. While sitting here bemoaning the state of this world, and how awful everything was, the sun has started shining once more, and the angels smile. One of the agencies actually rang me back, and now I have a temporary job on Monday. It's in a place that I worked in over 18 months ago - so hopefully they won't remember me. Working reception and some light typing. It's only one day, but it's still not something to sneeze at, and now I get to leave the house and join the human race again, even just for one day. I think it will make me appreciate unemployment more, come Tuesday, when I can sleep in and watch ER again.

Day Three of Sharon-Is-A-Dole-Scum. Becoming unbearably disillusioned with the world of recruitment agencies – I do remember that, last time I was temping, there were two agencies which served me well, but they don’t really seem to be giving it their all this time round. Job interview looms tomorrow, so I’ve decided that washing my interview outfit is in order. Hope it’s not still damp in the morning, but us dole scummers have an image to keep up.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to use my time wisely, and am learning to juggle. No, really. Although, it’s turning out to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated because, although my right hand can juggle like a pro, my left hand appears to have had a very localised stroke, and refuses to do anything that I ask it to do, other than throw my bean bags on the floor. Ho hum. Must keep trying.

This way, if nothing comes up, at least I can run away and join the circus.

09 April 2002

Day Two of the great big world of unemployment. Spent the morning ringing round employment agencies while watching the Queen Mother’s funeral on the telly, which managed to create in me a strange mood of despondency, which I haven’t managed to shake off since.

Went out to wander the streets this afternoon, since all I was doing was waiting for people to call me back – which not a single person did, may I add. Walked past the cinema and decided on a whim to go in and see 24 Hour Party People, which is a great big rocker of a film. Very enjoyable, particularly when playing the game of spot the comedian / cameo / real life version of the film’s main characters. I particularly enjoyed Dave Gorman’s appearance as John The Postman, which made me laugh out loud, unlike everyone else in the cinema who were determined not to move an inch throughout. Although, it has to be said that the film isn’t exactly the laugh riot that it’s painted to be. Coogan’s performance as Tony Wilson is brilliant, spoiled only by the occasional glimpse of Alan Partridge which managed to destroy my concentration.

08 April 2002

This is just fantastic. Go here and meet Tillie. I really need to get me a dog.

In other news, I’ve got my first job interview in the next installment of Sharon-Tries-A-Career on Thursday morning, which should alleviate the boredom somewhat. Despite appearances, I find being unemployed very disheartening, and I’m already becoming mildly panicky about money, particularly considering I’m supposed to be saving towards the Edinburgh Festival, which is now a mere 118 days away. The interview is with Maclay Murray & Spens who would obviously be insane not to hire me. I am currently practicing answers to the questions “Why should we employ you?” and “Why do you want to work here?” but if you have any suggestions, please email me.

07 April 2002

This is written as part of the Peer-To-Peer review project, which works by assigning each blogger another weblog to review. As part of the project, you have to publish your review as part of your own weblog, so here below is my review of the blog written by someone calling themselves smelly kid.

smelly kid’s blog comes without an introduction to himself, or any kind of background information, other than what comes through the entries themselves. Ordinarily, I find this frustrating with blogs, but not so this one – according to the first entry in the archive, his back log disappeared just before the new year, and he has continued on instead with this clean sheet. This adds something of an air of mystery and a certain enigma to the relatively sparse entries.

It took me less than five minutes to read through all the entries written since last December, but each of them show great potential for expansion, and what you leave this site with is a certain degree of frustration that that promise is never fulfilled. I would guess that the reason he entered this site for a peer2peer review would be because, like me, he was trying to use that extra pressure to force him to knuckle down and increase the amount of entries he generates.

The entries are short and sweet and, to the most part, straight to the point. They don’t contain very many links to outside sites, and the overall content of the site is more of a personal journal than anything else. However, his hopes, dreams, ambitions and frustrations come screaming through the postings, and brought back for me – without meaning to sound at all patronising - just how difficult your teenage years can be. It consistently stays just on the right side of self indulgence and manages not to fall in to the trap that so many other blogs do and become simply a public diary in which you attempt to make yourself sound more interesting.

Overall, it’s a great find, but also a great shame that it isn’t updated regularly enough. I for one would certainly be interested in reading a whole lot more.

06 April 2002

Just one more thing before I collapse into bed to sleep until Monday - while in Ireland, I finally got my hands on the fabulously amazing new Damien Rice album, which I insist you all run out to the shops RIGHT NOW and buy. If you need persuading, just listen to volcano.

I must sleep.

And now I’m back in Edinburgh once again, following a less-than-traumatic plane journey back. I think me and flying are forming some kind of understanding, in that I’m slowly growing to absolutely loathe it, rather than be paralysed with fear by it. And that is one heck of an achievement, for me.

The huge and wonderful adventures that I’ve had at home may or may not be recounted here at some point soon, but tonight I am only fit to talk about the mini adventure myself and my sister had in the Laughter Lounge last Thursday.

We were happily sitting down before the show, having a chat and a couple of recreational drinks before the funny men came on stage to tell us their amusing tales. A couple came over, and sat down beside us, fixing us with maniacal grins. They were both wearing matching baseball caps, and had pearly white teeth and fabulously bright eyes. Our suspicions were immediately confirmed when, two minutes later, we knew their names, ages, holiday plans, the names of their children and which county in Ireland their descendants had come from. That’s right: they were American tourists.

One of the first things that asked us was about the general Irish opinion on the current US President, and his predecessor Clinton. Having just finished reading Stupid White Men by Michael Moore, we both let rip, with the backing of statistics and well founded arguments, about just what we thought of young Dubya. They sat back, and in that wonderful American way, nodded their understanding without telling us how wrong they thought we were. And then my sister and myself exchanged looks, glanced back at the couple, and asked if they were, by any chance, from Texas. Of course they were.

Once we got past that little glitch, they regaled us with tales of where they had already been around Ireland, and where they were still planning to go. They told us how thrilled they were to have been able to see some of the “real” Ireland, by planning their own routes and keeping off the tourist trail, while simultaneously telling us what it was like to kiss the Blarney Stone. We looked on at them both, all the while thinking how much they were also fitting perfectly in to the stereotype of the American Tourist, having come all the way over here to trace their ancestors, who they think left Donegal around 1580.

More about Dublin soon, and just how much it keeps changing every time I go back, but in the meantime, here’s some homework for you all to be getting on with –

Click here to help Shut Sellafield

04 April 2002

Following on from that particularly melodramatic entry, a nine day silence would lead you to believe that either the plane had crashed, or that I was suffering a particularly virilent attack of post traumatic stress disorder. Neither are the case, of course. I've been in Clifden over Easter with my family, and the brand new dog, who is called Kesh. I have many photographs, all of which in one way or another contain Kesh in them. I am in Dublin for another two days, before going back to Edinburgh on Saturday night. Between now and then I've got a trip to Whelans and The Laughter Lounge. In fact, I should be leaving now.

All of the above, rushed and uninterestingly posted, is for the sake of whoever the poor soul is that has been chosen to review my blog for the Peer to Peer Review that's taking place at the moment. Hope you're not feeling too bored.