Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I write this from the flat in Reading: night has fallen and the wind gusts over the Thames outside. It seems that Autumn has already arrived.

Hoving into view behind me is the Roomba, skeetering like an adolescent gazelle over Alex's thin carpets - it was made for this life. Back in Wells it visibly struggled through the thick pile carpets, trundling erratically, losing direction and flashing brilliant red in premature burn-out. Belatedly Clare checked the operating instructions: it deeply doesn't like the thick shag pile. I will now take Alex's best Hoover (he has two?) back to Wells this weekend and we'll reluctantly revert to manual.

My project involves transferring hundreds of staff from one system to another. I have to send them emails to elicit information that will move them through the process.

One third of the hundreds of people I have bulk-mailed actually sent back the right data [I have laboured for hours and days in a Dickensian stoop to transfer all this to a gigantic spreadsheet].

One third sent me back ingenious, humorous and sometimes intemperate reasons why it's a poor idea; telling them why they have to do it anyway and still getting the right info off them takes aeons.

The final third don't respond at all: I have spent the afternoon doing telesales; cold-calling person after person trying to persuade them to read the email in the first place: I get to talk to plenty of voicemail.

Oh, and quite a few are on holiday heedless of our deadlines.

Consultancy is sometimes jobs tourism. It's a real eye-opener doing this on contract, doing something people spend their lives on.

Clare and myself finally caught up with Memento (Christopher Nolan) on DVD Saturday night. This on the basis of Inception, his latest. Wow!

I was waking her up at 2 a.m. saying "The reason she looked surprised to see him was because he was driving the car and wearing the clothes of her drug-dealing boyfriend he had just killed." Reflecting the hero's loss of short term memory, the film is presented in short sequences set backwards in time, interspersed with forward sequences from the start of the narrative. It needs to be seen again ... or you can read this analysis from Salon.

Last night as I was lounging around after a shower I was bitten on the ankles by a (presumed) mosquito. I seached obsessively but there was no trace of the pesky critter so I detoured to Tesco this evening to buy heavy-duty Raid. The flat has been nerve-gassed to a thick fog while I was showering this evening and I hope that's the last of it. The carpet was not leaf-littered with dead insects for the voracious Roomba afterwards so it was not as bad as it could have been ...