Friday, May 31, 2002

Watty says:

Somehow, it's the end of May. Not quite sure how that happened; still; even the English weather seems to think it's nearly summer - for today, at least. So, I'll spend today clearing out the computer room in preparation for our new rack of blade servers (oh, don't bother with the link. It's just a bunch of computers.), which arrive, with any luck, next week. I've never bought 7 servers in one go before - it's been quite exciting, really *yawns*

Ahem. So, we went to see Attack of the Clones. I enjoyed the experience of going to the cinema rather more than I enjoyed the film, really. All the things you've heard about it are true; it could safely be an hour shorter, and still get the plot across (in fact, that's the skill of film-making, isn't it?), and the thing which annoyed me most were the lengthy "Look, kids; it's just like a computer game" action sequences - I felt that we should have had a game controller to help Padme through the production line - Jump! Now! Oooh, that was close. Now, inch her to the left, and hold down both buttons. Now! Oh, well done - hang on, there's another machine coming...

Then Conor and I took Zoë's dad to Bletchley Park on Sunday, and despite the rain, much amusement was had. Each time we go there, it seems to have grown and improved a little more; one day, I'll find time to see it all in one visit. Highly recommended, if you like that sort of thing.

It's a four day weekend, thanks to the fact that there is apparently something highly significant about the passage of 18,260 or so days since King George VI died. Ah, well; it's probably something to tell the great-grandchildren about. There may be posts in here, there may not. TIme will tell - we're going to a surprise birthday party tonight; we have babysitters tomorrow; we're going to the zoo on Sunday; it's probably going to rain Monday and Tuesday. Ah, well - we'll think of something to do.
Work. Must do some work.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Watty is still here:


This having family around business is not good for keeping a diary, or whatever it is I'm doing here. Remind me to review Attack of the Clones, and ramble on about Bletchley Park. But not tonight.


Thursday, May 23, 2002

Watty has a minor revelation:

I have just realised the truth about something which has bothered me for 20 years or so. We have been discussing Cameron's diet, and the fact that he may be mildly lactose intolerant - something which need not detain us here. I found myself saying "Of course, I stopped drinking milk 20 years ago. Nowadays, it gives me stomach cramps." I suddenly realised that I am the source of this intolerance. Gradually, as I got older, I found that I 'went off' dairy products, to the point where I don't take milk at all, cheese being my only real vice (you don't want to be a witness to me eating cereal entirely dry, but that's the way I eat it). Cheese doesn't affect me, apparently, because in hard cheeses, most of the lactose is broken down. I am slightly unnerved by this - I always thought I gave up milk in my coffee because I was an impoverished student, and it was so damn difficult to keep it fresh, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that it really does disagree with me. The things you learn...

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Watty complains:

Urgh. Now I understand why people complain about the railways. I've now had a couple of unpleasant journeys home, two out of eight is not encouraging. We weren't late today, just horribly - probably dangerously - overcrowded, owing to the 8-carriage train being replaced by a 4-carriage one. I feel obliged to mention two curiosities about my journey, which probably only appeal to my strange brain. Both are to do with the layout of Euston's many underground platforms.
I arrive every morning at Euston, and plunge below ground (incidentally, the flood of suburban commuters crosses the outflow of underground commuters at 90o - staggeringly good planning. Not.) After I negotiate the ticket barriers, I have two choices for the short trip to King's Cross, where I get on the Thameslink service: I can go Southbound on the Northern, or Northbound on the Victoria. Both go directly between the two stations, but, naturally, the Victoria trains are almost deserted, since they are heading out of the city. I'm not sure (i.e. I can't be bothered checking) that this is the only place where this is possible. Also, thanks to some particularly labyrinthine design some way below ground there is a short stretch of pedestrian tunnel which I traverse in the same direction at both ends of the day. This I find most disconcerting. OK, I'll go to bed now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Watty bounces in his seat...

I'm childishly overexcited about the fact that I'm posting this from the train on the way home...

Watty surprises himself...

So; here I am, typing this into my laptop as normal, but I am not physically connected to anything at all. Including power, so I'd better hurry up...
I'm using my mobile as a modem, and connecting at all of 9.6Kbps. But it works. More or less...

Monday, May 20, 2002


I just booked tickets to go and see Attack of the Clones on Friday night! Three things:

  1. We have a life!
  2. We are going to a real, grown-up cinema!
  3. Is it irredeemably geeky of me to know the 18-digit number on my Switch card by heart?
No, don't answer that...
Oh, and question of the day from Cameron:
"Mummy; where do penguins keep their clothes pegs?"
Mummy:"I dont know, darling - maybe in a basket like us..."
Cameron:"No, they don't."

Like the man said, there's no answer to that.
Watty pauses for breath:

Wot? No internet access? How am I goimg to get through 5 days on Win2K network infrastructure if I can't blog at lunchtime? And no emails, either. Hmmm. I feel a valiant attempt at wireless communication coming up. Watch this space...

Meanwhile, the gliding was great fun - Cameron managed to land the simulator in the sea, but no harm done... I had a few things I wanted to say, but I'm tired, and I have to do this all again for another 4 days. More later in the week...

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Watty is looking forwad to:

  • Going to this this afternoon
  • Doing another week's learning here.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Watty is not really awake yet:

Driving Zoë's car today - so that I can get it cleaned before her dad arrives on Sunday (and there's a whole box of frogs I'd rather not go into, thanks). Grrr. Manual transmission (oh, OK; that's not so bad) and a radio with a mind of it's own. I do not wish to listen to BBC Three Counties Radio, thanks (yes, it's as bad as it sounds). Whatever happened to those big, chunky, comforting dials which stayed where you put them? Ah, well - I did manage a small amount of Danny Baker this morning - not as hysterically funny as yesterday; but you have to heap praise on an organisation which places it's flagship programme in the hands of a radio genius who is by no means to everyone's taste, and who turns up each morning 3 minutes before going on air with the attitude: "What shall we do today, then?"

I just came through the Blogger front page, as you do - how often I am distracted by a likely sounding blog in the 'recently updated' list, and find myself wandering through someone else's life entirely at random. If you're a random visitor here, I'd love to know how you got here, and why. Well, to work. I wonder if I can get Compaq HP to talk to me today. I'd quite like to buy 7 servers from them; I wonder if they'd like the business?

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Watty thinks about things too much:

I was talking to one of my many former bosses today. I haven't seen him in around 4 years or so, and between catching up and explaining what happened to all the people he used to know who no longer work here, he frightened me by casually noting that his eldest son is 19 years old. His youngest, the one I remember being just out of nappies, is 14 next month. I try not to feel old, but honestly...

In other news, my muse has returned - I've been writing this story for almost a year now - it has taught me two things; that I can write sustained narrative, and that if I really wanted to do it seriously, I'd have to give up work. Ah, well. As someone once said, "nice dream".

Oh, and I really did see four airships in formation over Watford today.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Watty muses:

I've been thinking about national identity. I realise I'm on slightly sticky ground here, as there are certain things expected of me as a Scot; things which I may no longer really be able to feel. And there's an undercurrent of nationalism about, what with the World Cup coming up. I have been asked who I will support this year; the answer has surprised me.

I am more fervently, patriotically Scottish than ever I was when I lived there. I've been in England for 12 years now, and I don't suppose I'll ever return 'home' - certainly not to Aberdeen; perhaps we'll achieve our dream of retiring to a Georgian town house in Edinburgh. I moved down here in the middle of the 1990 World Cup (my life is no more measured out by football tournaments than it is by coffespoons, but it's symbolic). One of the first things which happened was that I was invited to watch that semi-final in the home of my new boss and her husband - I was living in a hotel at this point, and was glad of the company. I spent the evening being uncomfortable; I enjoyed the game, as I am wont to do under almost any circumstances, but I did not react the way I would have at home. My sympathies, such as they were, were with the English that night, but no more than they were with the Italians in the other semi. My own team having found another inventive way of failing, I was truly neutral for the remainder of the competition.

Gradually, over the years I have lived here, I have become more English. My accent is almost entirely gone; I can still hear it, but most people cannot - given that it is fairly chameleonic at the best of times, this is no great surprise. My friends are English or Italian; my children are English (I hope they feel pride in their Scottish and Irish blood, but they're English. I have the birth cirtificates); they will go to school here; they will know no other way of life. All their friends will support England, and I know, with a sigh, that they will, too. I hope I can take one of them to watch Scotland play in Germany in 4 years time; if it happens I might manage to convince an 8-year-old Cameron that it's more fun this way. But I'm realistic.

So, what of me? Well, I'm still Scottish; I'm still unrealistically hopeful whenever there's an international match at almost any sport; and I'm used to the slings and arrows by now. If ever I need to feel part of something, I only need to think back to that magical afternoon in St Etienne four years ago, when the Tartan Army took over the town; drank it dry, and had the best party I've ever been to, or ever expect to go to. As we gathered in our tartan to march round the square to the sound of the pipes, and the cheers and handshakes of the locals; I felt a tear in the eye and a lump in the throat which is easily summoned to this day. That afternoon, we had Englishmen in our party belting out 'Flower of Scotland' with the best of them, and I will always treasure the remarks of the restaurant owner, on presenting us with several bottles of the house white. He said "Thank you for coming here. You should have this, and you are our friends always." We overtipped, of course, but that wasn't the point. That day, I felt a security in my identity as a Scot which has not left me, and which I think allows me to answer the World Cup question honestly, for once.

I shall not really be supporting anyone in the forthcoming tournament. Not to weasel out of the answer, but because the only nation I have the right to support will not be taking part. But I will wish the Irish well - my children are half-Irish, after all; and I will want Italy to do well - I cherish my Italian friends, and they're no fun to work with if Italy do badly; and I shan't be cheering England's opponents; as is expected of me. I have lived here for nearly a third of my life; I have no reason other than blind 'tradition' to do so; and it's easy to fall into cliché. No, I should be happy to see England do well, I shall watch all their matches with engagement and interest - will the players who I see every week be up to the standard of the rest of the world? And should they be drawing with Argentina, say, in the final minute of the match, and David Beckham curls one of those free kicks into the top left hand corner; I'll be yelling as loudly as anyone. And I'm not going to feel in any way guilty or ashamed of it. Maybe it's advancing middle age, but I feel I've grown out of all that stuff.

Mind you, next time we play them...

Watty puts the paintbrush away:

OK, not butterscotch; and no more dark blue either. Nothing profound to say, but you never know...

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Watty would say, if he had the energy:

I quite like the look of this now - I might change the butterscotch (if you come in here, and it's lime green (which it won't be), trust me; it was butterscotch for a while.)

Other than that, I'm very tired for reasons entirely to do with small children, and I think I'll go to bed now. Night, night.

Watty says:

That's better - ooh, it's gone all butterscotch...

Watty says Oops...

A small amount of tinkering with the template, and I appear to have blown Blogger up. Sorry....

Monday, May 13, 2002

Watty moans:

Me website's gorn...

Well, it's temporarily missing, anyway. Pah - free webspace is not all it's cracked up to be. At least I don't pay for it. So, what's been happening? Not a lot, really - a fairly standard day, punctuated only by a real, live fire alarm, followed by a lot of shouting about whether the toaster was actually being used at the time. I have a new chapter brewing; I'm pretty certain how it's going to work, but I lack the energy to write it all out. Also, the school website is seriously out of date - maybe tomorrow lunchtime...

I don't even have anything to pontificate about - although living in England during a World Cup is getting me thinking... more later, perhaps.

Depression Index: Pretty good. In fact, I'm greatly encouraged by things - I had a bad day and I bounced back really well. This is reinforcing the positives, and I'm actually feeling better subconsciously (but how do I know...?) Ah well, off to tinker with the template...

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Watty sings:  When Irish Eyes Are Smiling...

Sorry. Won't do that again. So - nearly a week later; we are restored to a full complement of Watts, and I have a few moments of peace for more or less the first time this week. Truth is, I didn't feel particularly creative in the evenings this week - it's not that the boys wear you out, it's just that there are so many little things that get picked up by one or other of us when there are two grown-ups in the house. I actually enjoyed the week; spending more time with the boys than I ever normally do, and having a tiny bit of time to myself from time to time.

But we're all glad mummy's back - even if she did bring two fluffy sheep which warble the abovementioned tune upon having pressure applied to their nether regions. In slightly different keys (or at least at slightly different pitches, as far as I could tell whilst running away screaming, with my hands over my ears.)

Depression Index: Kind of neutral - I've been more up than not this week; mostly I've just been tired. Had a lie in this morning, and now am going off in search of ant powder - or whatever high-tech solution there is these days - before thie little buggers find the food cupboards....

Monday, May 06, 2002

Watty explains:

It's been a bank holiday weekend. It's also been somewhat unusual, for reasons which I shall endeavour to explain:
This is now a house of boys. Zoë went to Dublin this morning; the first time she's been since her mum died. It's a hard thing for her to do on her own (but she needs to do it on her own), and it leaves us three boys here on our own until Saturday, when Mummy will be welcomed back with tales of how Daddy has indulged meals on the living room floor and no baths. Some of which may be true, I grant. So, we're just fine here really - except that it rained and was cold for most of today, which has meant that, since coming back from the airport, we've been stuck in the house - my plans for excursions to the park or the zoo at the end of the village came to naught, and we sat in and watched Bank Holiday Films (Herbie Rides Again, which isn't funny any more, sadly (did I imagine it was, or were we more innocent when I was young?) and the Flintstones, which was teeth-grindingly bad, but the boys liked some of it), and just played silly games. Which isn't at all a bad way to spend a cold, wet Monday.

Depression Index:
Here it comes; the one I was dreading. The Beast is back. No, I didn't really think it was gone, but it had been a while; and I thought I was on top of things. Following all those weeks of calm, and even positiveness; and immediately following a very good day on Friday - for the first time since I moved into IT; I really felt I could hold my own in a pretty technical meeting - up to now, I have known enough to busk it, but I usually end up doing some background reading afterwards. Saturday was good; nothing specific, just 'good'; and we had an 'early night' (read into that what you will - it wasn't that early...) after being bowled over by Moulin Rouge - I feel a strong urge to expound on that later - and I woke up yesterday...

Well, that's not true - I never truly woke up yesterday; something had happened overnight, or whatever, and I spent the day in a daze. We had friends over for the day, and I must have been - well, unusual, shall we say (sorry, Mandy - all you needed right now). However, there's a but...

But. Things have changed. I took Zoë's advice, and went out. I walked across the Downs for over an hour. I thought about what was causing it; and I resolved my behaviour, and managed to be bearable for the rest of the day. I was anxious about today - not about being left in charge of the boys; that's tiring, but not impossible; but about Zoë being away. It may sound corny after (counts) nearly 17 years of marriage; but I still worry endlessly about her when she's out of my sight - how will she cope with the emotional stress? How will she cope with the travelling, and the endless generosity of all her relatives? What if.... But I don't allow myself What Ifs now - it's one of the games I played at my worst to wind myself up, and to give succour to the Beast (I don't, as a matter of interest, routinely refer to it as such; it's just handy shorthand) - except, my mind doesn't always remember the rules. So I got myself wound up and the depression fed on that; and I was over tired (as usual), and... well, you get the idea. But I got through it; I talked about it; I went out and dealt with it; and for a dreadful day; it was actually quite bearable. And I've bounced back extremely well today - I was even perfectly calm all the time I was waiting to hear if she had arrived safely. So, chalk one up for me, I think - not a good day, but so much better handled this time. Now I need to work on not needing to be prompted...

So, I may be a bit quiet this week - the boys will take a lot of what little spare time I may have; and I might try to get a bit more sleep, too... But I'm still here.

And there are way too many semi-colons in that.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Watty says:

Nothing much, really - bit busy: there may be more later...

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Watty perambulates:

So, I went to Luxembourg; I came back. In the same day, which is a little disconcerting. The hour difference works against you both ways: I get up at stupid o'clock and travel for hours (an hour to Stansted, an hour and a half waiting; an hour on the flight) and by the time we get there (9:30 UK time), half the morning has already gone. Coming back; I'm tired (and a little unwell) and we leave Lux at 7:30 - we arrive in the UK at... 7:30. But it must be bedtime by now...
Anyway, a very positive trip; much dull (dull for you, quite interesting for me - but you don't want to know about mpls technology, and how to renumber an IP range, do you?) discussing, catching up wih old friends and quite the most uninspiring lunch I've ever had....

A little flesh on the bones: Anyone reading this will probably be aware that I work for a well-known Italian confectionery company. Well, for reasons which must be obvious to someone, we are actually based in Luxembourg. So; if there are global projects going on, they will tend to involve meeting in Lux. Which is handy, really because the offices are literally across the road from the airport. It does mean that you don't see anything of the town - but trust me, you only need to see Luxembourg once... Being the kind of company it is, we have a high itinerant population - people spend a year here; a year there, and sooner or later, they all do a stint in Luxembourg. Which they all hate for having little or no social life (Luxemboring my pal Enrica calls it) - but then they are all working 12 to 15-hour days, so what does it matter. What must it be to be young and ruthlessly ambitious? We bumped into William in the mensa at lunchtime - he's in charge of opening up undeveloped markets now; he spent a week in Saudi Arabia recently, and he's off on Monday for two weeks in China. I'm sure it's hard work, but still...

So, the meeting want well, the lunch was not good (very unusual, that - this is an Italian company, for goodness sake) and I started to feel migrainy during the afternoon. Now, I thought migraines were part of my ancient history, but it seems not. Haven't had one that I can remember for years. Perhaps it was the stuffy atmosphere; perhaps it was the chicken; most likely, it was the all-pervading tobacco smoke, which is a low-grade background layer everywhere you go - I never saw anyone actually smoking, which is highly unusual for this company, but it was more of a psychic thing - it's in the stonework. Anyway, cigarette smoke makes me susceptible to migraines for some reason; I no longer carry anti-migraine pills (I don't get migraines now...) and I just got slowly worse for the rest of the day. But I survived the walk to the airport, the meal (which I shouldn't have tried to eat), the flight home (in the dinkiest little aircraft you ever saw), and the journey home in driving rain. All of which is to explain that I'm having a post-migraine day today - I function perfectly normally, but I feel tired and somehow empty. Tomorrow will be back to normal. Whatever that is.

So there were no posts from airports - breakfast was more of a priority in the morning, and I was just too ill in the evening, but I'm back now. Oh, you noticed...