Tuesday, 31 July 2007

It don't mean a thing (if it ain't got that swing)

I come from a musical family with an enormous repertoire of musical jokes. Ones sure to get a laugh seem to include saxophones (What's the difference between an onion and a sax? People cry when you chop up an onion. What's the difference between a lawnmower and a sax? You can tune a lawnmower. etc ad infinitum). The main reason for this is the suffering my parents have endured at the hands of many a youthful saxophonist. They have both accompanied a multitude of budding musicians through exams, and have come to the conclusion that the saxophone in the wrong hands is the most dangerous of all instruments. Not only is it incredibly loud and persistent, it also is unbelievably difficult to make it sound better than a particularly irritating car horn. Very few 12 year olds tackling their Grade 3 manage it, but vast numbers try. I had always had some sympathy for the saxophonists-in-training, from the safe distance of several miles away. Not any more. I now live opposite one.

The saxophonist in question is definitely dedicated, but unfortunately unmusical. They squeak through scales, parp in the wrong places and have not mastered the delicate art of playing pianissimo, or indeed anything softer than fortissimo. I find it particularly difficult to bear as Mr/Ms Sax always tends to reach for their instrument at the exact moment on a Sunday afternoon when I think 'Ooh I could really do with a nice snooze'. Bad enough though this may seem, the worst occurred this weekend. During an attempt to play jazz classic 'I got rhythm', they consistently got the rhythm wrong. ARGH.

Thursday, 12 July 2007


On my way to work this morning I walked past a building site which had made the pavement around it rather muddy. It was drizzling (of course!) and I was wearing my lovely new black boots. They are flat-heeled, but have quite slippy soles, so it was probably slightly my own fault when I ended up slightly shocked flat on the pavement. My right knee and umbrella took the brunt of the fall, and I pulled myself back upright slightly shakily. I was a bit surprised that no-one on this busy Mancunian street even asked if I was OK, though this may have had something to do with the fact that I sounded like Hugh Grant in the first few minutes of 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'...

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Being busy and a brilliant birthday

I've been rather slack with my blogging, reading and writing over the last few weeks, but this hasn't been due to a lack of motivation. I've had lots I've wanted to write but work has got in the way rather. Not that I used to blog etc during office hours (unless things were really slack), but because of the way my workload has increased I just have had no juice left at the end of the day. Back in May, I was working on 3 accounts, I knew the data well, and there wasn't all that much on. Now I've got 6. And the 3 new ones have come with tight deadlines and tricky projects so I've been trying to get my head around it all. Several other writers have left recently, so I've inherited a few manuscripts, and it's always harder to pick something up from somebody else rather than start from scratch, but I've just had to get on with it. This isn't a problem exactly - I enjoy work so much more when I'm so stressed my brain is melting (I don't handle boredom particularly well...), but the rest of my life does tend to suffer until I get back on an even keel.

Yesterday was my birthday, and although I spent the day at work, it was rather fun. I finally got my head around one of my new accounts, which was very satisfying. Also, S had promised to make me a cake. How exciting! When I got home there were several lovely birthday cards in my postbox, and a package from my fabulous friends A&S containing a book I HAD to start reading as soon as I had opened it - 'Reading like a Writer' by Francine Prose. I've only read the first 2 chapters so far, but it really is fascinating, looking at the precise way words are chosen by a huge range of wonderful writers, not just the usual wide thematic and political breakdowns. I would have read more, but S arrived home with bulging shopping bags, and threw himself into making a gourmet meal, topped off with a delicious banana loaf. I just had another slice, and I think I'll be encouraging him to make it again very soon!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007


On my way to work, I often walk past a woman walking away from the station while engrossed in the fiddly business of making a roll-up. Every time I see her, I have to suppress the urge to sidle up to her and shout


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