Why did I do what I did?

Looking back, after the alcohol, hangover and general atmosphere of the evening had worn off, I began to question why I did what I did.

It could have been any number of things, really and I have spent today assembling the major suspects.

Candlelight. We all look fab by candlelight. Actually I am keen to propose that it is used more widely.

Black tie. See above. There is something about it that makes me want to smooth jackets and straighten the bow ties of people I have only just met.

It might have been the way he looked at me – making me forget to introduce myself for about 10 seconds. It was almost certainly the broad good-natured smile which regularly gave way to a freckled, boyish grin.

It was definitely the way he listened to me so intently despite the fact I was not at my sparkling best. Oh that is just the nicest thing in the world – someone really listening to you.

Oh and you can never discount the alcohol. But whatever it was, something made me blow a kiss goodbye across a crowded room to a man I had never met before and it was only this morning that I woke up wondering why.

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Daleks, Edith Piaf and my parents

I love my parents deeply, but my relationship with them can be summed up in two conversations held this afternoon:

My Mother

“Hi Mum, how are you? Please may I borrow the Victorian coral and diamond set for that black tie dinner tomorrow?”

“Of course darling. What are you wearing?”

“Well it is a choice between the light grey strappy dress with a shrug on top or…”

“No darling you can’t wear that.”

“I can’t?”

“No, it makes you look like a dalek.”

“A dalek?”

“Darling you are short and dumpy, long skirts do not suit. What is the other choice?”

“Oh erm… that black 1950s cocktail dress, the thing is it’s velvet and it’s pretty hot.”

“No darling, you can’t wear that either. Makes you look like Edith Piaf. Hardly flattering! You will have to buy something.”

“But it’s tomorrow!”

“Well you have a lunch break don’t you?”

My father

“What are you wearing?”

“It’s a choice of two…”

“Well for God’s sake bring walking shoes. We’ll never get a taxi back to London Bridge at that time.”


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Ms Cool regrets she is unable to attend

It is hard to be calm and graceful when you are faced with a hero.

It’s doubly hard to be cool and elegant when that hero is the man whose presence is so magnetic that you cannot actually string a sentence together in front of him. Professional god, personal Achilles’ Heel.

I hate to break it to you and I know it will come up as a shock but I am not a cool person. In my mind’s eye, I am buxom, wanton and a bit Moll Flanders c. Alex Kingston.

In reality, however, I am plump, gauche and ricochet from being a bit Wife of Bath to a bit of an overly-analytical, should-get-out-more, wannabe blue stocking.

Self-knowledge is a powerful thing and if I know one thing, I know this: however much I try, grace, elegance and cool are alien concepts to me.

So back to the man so dazzling that the first time I met him in a lift, he smiled at me, asked me where I was going and I completely forgot what floor my office was on.

I always knew there was a risk in going into a meeting held near his desk. Would I be able to hold it together and sound cool, professional and confident? Well I was doing pretty well until he walked into the room and I realised he would have to walk right by me to get to his seat.

There was I trying to hold it together, as he picked his way through our huddle.

And then I heard myself saying…

“And of course there is the wiki, which has lots of breast practise guidelines on it”

:-(

[Addendum: Unfortunately in between writing and posting this, it actually got worse. It was pointed out to me he was standing right by me in the bar. Over the next half an hour, I blushed a semi-permanent raspberry, spilt sour cream down my shirt and failed to be the confident, alluring creature of my dreams. Oh well. As a good friend once advised me: “NEXT!”]

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Death wields a tennis racket

Tonight Death will be stalking the bedroom.

No not the grim reaper of medieval European folklore, but the Death of Flying/Biting Insects. Instead of a scythe it will be wielding the lastest in mossie-killing tech.

I am hugely attractive to biting insects. In fact when travelling in Africa I am the most reliable form of mosquito repellent there is. They are too busy biting me to go near anyone else. Pale soft skin – even in this country they cannot get enough. Summer is hellish and the cottage always attracts a healthy population, despite a distinct lack of standing water.

Originally I was convinced that we could rely on natural means to cope with the little gits and I contracted the job out to Arachnid Professional Services Inc. The Director of New Business, Bruce, assured me they were equal to the task. Sadly on the basis of the biting that has been going on recently that is simply not true.

The spiders, despite their protestations of unusual atmospheric conditions and the loss of key personnel, have had their chance. Frankly I always thought their proposal for keeping the numbers under control was optimistic. Spring was manageable, but for all their talk of ‘swarming resource as the project required it’, it has been the mossies doing the swarming. Yes, there are huge numbers of spiders in the house, but they are performing like England at the moment. 

The service level agreement was fair as long as they applied themselves, but their project management has been shocking. They claim to use Agile techniques, but I haven’t seen one sprint planning meeting, scrum or a single post it note. Plus they seem to be hanging around in all the wrong places. The bedroom is packed with mossies, but yesterday I found four spiders in the bathroom, one of whom was clutching a tiny loofah and claiming he was first in line for the shower and I would have to wait.

Admittedly some of their webs were destroyed in a tragic dusting accident a couple of weeks ago, but that was always a clearly identified project risk and one that they should have prepared for.

So that is it. I am terminating the agreement and I have invested in one of those electrified tennis rackets.

It exterminates wasps too.

I have become Death.

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Science, sheep and glowing kitties

Sometime ago I exhorted Science to add the gene for luminosity to sheep, thereby enabling the more efficient production of luminous socks.

Have they listened? Did they jump on this idea that could save a failing wool industry? No.

Instead they have been larking around adding a manipulated fluorescent protein (RFP) gene to Turkish Angora cats to make glow in the dark felines. Now I can see many advantages to this, for example, not tripping over the damned animal when you get up in the middle of the night to quaff lemonade.

The gene they chose to use, however, requires an external UV light source and a white cat to produce the effect. What use is that? If you have a UV light source with you on your midnight expedition then you are unlikely to be tripping over the cat in the first place.

Adding the gene from jellyfish, on the other hand, produces a gentle green glow naturally without the need for UV light. It seems to me that this added to your average sheep would produce a number of benefits.

1) Basic camouflage for sheep to help them blend into the background of the fields in the face of increased rustling. Rustling tends to take place at dawn, so the light levels will produce just a very gentle glow. This in turn will allow the sheep to blend into the green of the landscape, making it harder to round them up.

2) Socks that would only be luminous in the evening and clubbing. Let’s face it, you don’t want socks to be actually luminous until the right situation i.e. in the dark. This basic genetic modification would allow the socks to be unobtrusive during the day and to glow gently in light-less situations.

3) A flexible rural lighting system that would not add to light pollution allowing me to gaze at the stars and make my way safely home at night. As the sheep tend to move away from me* in the direction of my route home (see my paper on sheep directional movement in the Agricultural Science Review) this would produce a halo of luminosity going forward. 

So scientists, put the cats down and get on with crossing jellyfish with sheep. 

Thank you.

 

*As useful as this is, it is hard not to take it personally. 

(Note: Inspiration for the original thought came from Sheldon’s plan to create fish night lights in Big Bang Theory. I would be up for those too.)

 

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Modern manners and the older man

I was taken out for lunch today by a deliciously older man. One that my father would definitely not approve of.

(Actually must remember not to autopost this onto Facebook. Parents on Facebook are an utter nightmare and one of the reason I rarely use it anymore. Dad if you are reading this, stop now.)

I was taken out for lunch today by a deliciously older man. One that… oh you know how it goes.

The gentleman in question is utterly delightful and I have always had a bit of a teenage crush on him. Although that lessened slightly when he got rid of his magnificently luxuriant handlebar moustache but he is still charming. So when he suggested he took me out for lunch, it was all I could do not to squeal like a Welsh Section A.

Fortunately I managed to suppress this – pony noises not being the most attractive thing in a woman.

The thing is I am a modern girl and I expect to offer to split the bill at least. This is fine when you are out with your contemporaries, as you can just ask to see the bill and be polite when they refuse and offer to get it next time. It’s easy.

It’s not so easy when the person in question is older, has known you since you were a little girl and is a friend of your father’s. Here in lies the rub.

My father, if he knew I was lunching with one of his friends and had got past that initial fact, would expect me to offer to pay my share of the bill. In fact I have a sneaking suspicion that if he has disobeyed instructions and got this far, this will be raised with me at the family lunch on Sunday. 

The thing is that if someone offers to take you out to lunch, and uses those words, it kind of implies that you are their guest and they are going to pay. Admittedly, a lack of self confidence makes me chronically uncomfortable about assuming this.

So when the bill was requested I was not entirely sure what to do. Should I risk insulting him and seeming rude by asking how much or indeed offering to pay full stop? Should I sit back as though I expect him to pay it? That would have made me feel very awkward. I wanted to pay because it would make me feel like a grown up, equally I would hate to insult such a charming chap.

In the end I fudged the issue completely and then attempted to make up for it by offering to review the pitches sent to him by agencies for the redevelopment of his website. I also sent a thanks email on my return to work. A thoroughly inelegant solution.

Lovely lunch though.

 

Edited to make up for the fact that I didn’t proof it in the first place.

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Raiders of the Lost Archetype

I have a friend who found the Holy Grail. No, not the real one or indeed any of the other countless fictional ones. Especially not Dan Brown’s wizened, ancient mimsy.

He found that most prized of things: the secret of turning a geeky, unconfident young man into the utter god who can have any woman in the room. And I mean any.

For the time we worked together, one of his favourite hobbies was seeing how often he could make me blush in morning meetings. I spent six months in a permanent state of pink-cheeked anxiety. I still haven’t really recovered.

He is not conventionally good looking (sorry, Fras), not particularly tall, not a millionaire and yet I do not know a woman who would not want him right there and then. Although his wife would have something to say about that.

When quizzed about this, he told me that one day he just decided to change the way he thought about himself. Is it really that easy I wondered? He thought it was. He changed one of his beliefs about himself and this started off a chain reaction that made him change his entire world view.

But before you go beating a path to his door, there is a problem. It’s quite a big problem actually.

He has forgotten it.

That single magical thought that made the ugly duckling turn into a dazzling white, Leda-seducing specimen of avian perfection, has been forgotten. Lost forever.

So there you go. If we don’t naturally have the self-confidence of an ancient deity, we are never going to get it.

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