Saturday, October 26, 2019

I am a mature student

Sometimes a tiny voice calls to me through the void. "Where are you, NWM?". "I am here, my dear", I reply, brushing tears from the tiny face of the tiny person who has called to me through the void. "Do not be afraid".  Yes, loyal readers and fans, there is no need to be afraid: I am here.  Here is what I have been doing in the year since my last post:

1. Having a dog (called Alan)
2. Doing an MSc in Organisational Psychology.

I will address each subject separately.

1. Dog (Alan)

I have wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. Because I am completely freelance and part-time (a.k.a. a virtually unemployed part-time student), Alan (who is a Cairn terrier) moved in last November and I can honestly say that now I understand why people say MY DOG IS MY HEART and DOGS ARE PART OF THE FAMILY and suchlike while crying into their dog's neck (while the dog is thinking, HAVE YOU HAM UNDERNEATH THOSE TEARS?).

He is a merry little soul who likes a lie-in, and I am completely unashamed to tell you that he has an Instagram account and I love him. Because of him I walk 2 hours a day and have someone to lie on my feet when my husband (a French-Canadian veterinary histopathologist) refuses. He has markedly improved our physical and mental health, despite the farts and inability to bring the fucking ball back or stop chewing the logs.  In return for his general merriness, he is allowed to sleep on the sofa (but not the bed), is fed medium-range dog food, and is allowed to run amok in the mud with his village pals, including Shadow (lithe Labrador), Louis (gigantic Retriever) and Fudge (small unruly Jack Russell and escapalogist).  ("SUCH fun to have dogs with fun names!")

The picture you see above is of him watching me writing this post. His nose whiskers are wonky because he got a thistle stuck on the right hand side and we had to cut it out.  

2. MSc in Organisational Psychology

Organisational Psychology is basically about how people behave at work. I told my friend Liz I was thinking of doing it and she said, "why didn't we think of that before?". She was right. It is my Calling, as perceptive readers may have deduced from the title of this web-log, and as loyal readers will have observed from my Previous Work-Related Content

I really like it but I am not going to be an academic because from what I can see, being an academic nowadays mainly involves:
  • students behaving like customers and saying things like "this is an expensive degree - the quality of the sound recording is a disgrace, I expect more of the content", and "does the title count in the wordcount for my research proposal?"
  • not getting paid much and being really busy and tired (etc) while people who are not academics still say things like "yes but in the REAL world and in REAL jobs..." , like writing lectures and giving lectures and having idiots like me go "what does that mean?" and marking exams and doing research and supervising research and trying to get published in journals no-one actually reads, not even your mum, and TRYING to make sense of things like for e.g. WORK is not a real job
  • being misquoted on the telly/media etc
  • being dissed by Michael fucking Gove
none of  which I would like. Equally, I am not that way inclined which, I have realised, is nothing to do with being clever or not: either you like academic shizzle or you don't, and either you want it to be your life or you don't.  Also, no-one has suggested it and/or said (in hushed tones) "monkeys can do PhDs, you know", while suggesting 'special meetings' with supervisors at a certain college of the University of London.

Anyway, now I am at the beginning of my second year (I am doing it part-time so I can also work in order to pay the fees) so am an expert on everything to do with work and people at work. If you like you can send me your work-related questions and we can see if I come up with better answers than I would have done 10 years ago.  Either way, I will throw in the odd ref. to for e.g. Foucault and Bourdieu and say things like "sorry no I cannot come to your party, I am having my ontology removed", or throw in chit-chat about for e.g. mimetic isomorphism like it is not something that it has just taken me a week to understand, while praying that the dog will eat the book called "Philosophies of Organizational Change" that I keep looking at but have not opened.

Pip pip!


Saturday, September 22, 2018

I offer guidance on Village Social Event Food

After 18 long months, I have finally been permitted to contribute some "nibbles" for a village fundraising event.  "At the back, and if they're warm, put them on top of the radiator"*, instructs the Controller of Village Events (COVE) when we get to the church.  "Made those, did you? How GRAND."

Things involving plates of food are commonplace in our village and because we have Incomer's Fear, we go to almost all of them. The result of all this event-going is that I am now a 100% Top Expert on Village Social Event Food. The even better news is that I am prepared to share my considerable expertise with you, my adoring readers and/or fans, ensuring that anyone about to make their debut as a provider of "Village party nibbles" will seamlessly integrate alongside Jean and her cheese straws. 

I will, first of all, delineate my Village Context. From this, you will be able to extrapolate how relevant my Village Social Event Food will be in your own Village Context.

Village Context

Average age: 69
Average name: Tony, Jean, Bob
Average occupation: Historian, head of OFWAT, Architect to the Queen's Lavatories, thermo-nuclear physicist, biochemist, home visitor
Best description of village so far: "650 alcoholics clinging to a hill"
Chance of:
- seeing someone dressed as an elf being pulled on a trailer anytime in December: 100%
- donkey falling down storm drain having escaped from the Living Nativity: 100%
- spending over £10 on raffle tickets at village event: 100%
- there being a prize in the raffle that is not alcohol OR a 'basket of goodies' featuring old apples and jar of jam: 0%
- winning prize in raffle:  0% (if you are me)
Numbers of things to fundraise for: approx. 10, including church tower, church loo, church kitchen, vicar's gym membership, rehabilitation for donkey (see above)

Village Event Context
Setting: Church 1 (Anglican); Church 2 (United Reform); Village Hall; Open Gardens; Cricket pavilion; playing fields
Drink: Warm white white; red wine (non-specific); Cava (Prosecco = infra dig); Peter's Punch (inexplicable); Hamish's Pimms (90% Pimms, 5% lemonade, 5% gin)

A Beginner's Guide To Suitable Village "Nibbles"

Vol-au-vents: Full size but half-risen, containing Mystery Chicken in Undiluted Chicken Soup

Jenny's Famous Sausages: Cocktail sausages in mustard and honey so sticky that your fingers are glued together for the rest of the evening, thereby making it impossible to get your paws into ...

...Curry Puffs:  overcooked choux filled with sweet chicken curry

Paste on a Disc: Chicken liver pâté applied in a perfect circle on a perfect circle of bread, left out just long enough to crust up at the edges before being garnished with a small slice of green olive, enclosed in cling film and left to sweat for up to (and including) 3 hours (N.B. there is always half a plate of these left at the end and surreptitiously scraped into the vestry bin "so as not to hurt Jean's feelings")

"That looks Interesting, Peter!":  Concoction created by recognised local 'epicure and gourmand' (i.e., man over 70 with a Robert Carrier cookbook) involving aspic, a small fish-shaped mould and something orange

"A moment on the hips!": Joyless rye cracker with a squirt of Primula chive spread, topped with a single defrosted prawn and some curly parsley

"How GRAND": smoked salmon on blini that everyone stuffs down, pushing each other out of the way to get to the biggest one whilst sneering at vulgarity of having something delicious to eat

"Not for me, thanks": anything involving either feta cheese OR cumin

Brown Thing: "Malt loafy-thing that flops down when you hold it with chicken liver paste and a bit of tiny gherkin that fell off when you lifted it."**

Sausage roll. Variations required are as follows. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to tell which is which using your eyes alone, which invariably means the heart-stopping, roller-coaster ride that is Sausage Roll Russian Roulette:

  1. Home made: warm, slightly too big, always delicious, crumbs stuck to face that no-one tells you about. Later that evening, you realise that you talked to at least 12 people between sausage roll ingestion and seeing crumb-encrusted face in mirror at home
  2. Supermarket Special (Everyday Brand): were half-heated up but not quite enough, and are now cold; strange paste-y texture; often sprinkled with sesame seeds; perfect 1 inch width; favourite of portly gentlemen 
  3. Waitrose Poshest Chorizo and Ptarmigan Rolls:  See smoked salmon on blinis, above. Seen to be slightly vulgar and showy-offy, which doesn't stop the sneeriest clambering over each other to stuff them in their gaping maws.
I will be surprised if you tell me that this guide is not useful. I will be even more surprised if you don't have contributions of your own to make (I direct you to the comments section below), and I am interested in hearing them.  

Pip "Touch my cocktail sausage if you dare" Pip


* Do not do this. Last night, at the opening of the new church loo, a towel keeping some sausage rolls warm on top of a radiator caught fire
** Live review from my 'husband' who, as regular readers will be aware, is a French-Canadian veterinary histopathologist

Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Draft Diary of a Country Non-Working Something Or Other

There is much to relate, except I can't, because I live in a village and it is insane and I don't know where to begin (donkeys stuck in storm drains, windmills, sloe gin competitions, a trumpeting minister at the chapel, choir stuck in a snowstorm, owning a nouveau riche Aga). 

In desperation, I have started going through old drafts seeing if, perhaps, there is something I can revive for the sake of you, my adoring readers and/or fans.  Here is (almost the full) list of draft titles. (Sadly, there is no Christian Nudist colony in the village, otherwise I'd be right there - without my apron.)

"Cottaging, Pt 2"
"The Country Diary of A Non-Working Monkey"
"A Good Day, Middle-Aged Stylee"
"When A Monkey Is Tired Of Cauliflower"
"What Is A Millennial?"(i) 
"Lost Weekend"
"Bryan Adams"
"Grey's Anatomy" (ii)
"Still Not Much Happening"
"I Am In London (And Hastings)"
"I Am In Austin Again"
"Too Many Hotels"
"Hullo!!!" (iii)
"I Am Tied Up"
"I Am Invited To A Christian Nudist Brownie Bake-Off (No Aprons)"
"I Reveal My Celebrity Pals, 2000-2005" (iv)
"I Am In Texas"
"I Will Not Touch Your Lobster"
"I Suffer From Post-Traumatic Prog Rock Syndrome"
"Je Suis Dépaysé"
"I Find A New Use For Boris Johnson"
"I Receive A Radish From A Pathologist"

I'm going to try very hard to revive "The Country Diary of a Non-Working Monkey". With an eye on the future (i.e., we would like to stay here for a long time and I like my neighbours), I will be taking some 'poetic licence'.

Wish me well, dear readers and/or fans.  Wish me well. And if there are any aspects of country life you would like to hear more about, just say the word.

Pip pip!


(i) Some early promise here: "Please write a short exposition on the meaning of millennial", writes MonkeyMother, frantically puffing on her pipe. "Our friend Jane will keep calling them milleniums (sic)."

(ii) "I have started watching Grey's Anatomy. This is because I am" And there it stops dead.

(iii) "Ring ring. Ring ring. Ring ring. Who is there? Yes. It is me.  I phoned myself yesterday from my office phone.  "Why is the office calling me?", I asked myself, mobile in one hand and landline receiver in the other.  These are strange days, my friends; days that, as they pass, build and fold into a possible screenplay that no-one would believe, not even a person 'tripping' on LSD c. 1968."

(iv) This is VERY FUNNY in places, but also VERY RUDE in places about some 'living celebrities', which is probably why it's a draft (although it is highly unlikely that anyone would drag me, a monkey, through a court of Law).   Includes accidentally seeing the manstick of Nick Bateman from Big Brother c. 1987,  an encounter with Lisa Riley and a flying harness, home decoration tips from the (genuinely fabulous) Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and a physics lesson in a Winnebago from none other than Johnny Ball.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

We are buying a house in England

"Hold your nerve", I say to my husband, the French-Canadian veterinary research histopathologist with whom I share my life (and fleas).  "Buying a house is not easy in this country".   I use both of my tiny little monkey hands to lift the 3L bottle of Co-Op London Gin up onto the kitchen table, and get the winch out.  I realise he is only partially aware of what 'Grade 2 Listed' means, and I am not in any hurry to get into any sort of deep chit-chat about the ramifications of living in a house with a thatched roof.   The winch is winched; the bottle tips; the drink is 73% gin.

In Canada (where we have been), buying a house is sort of like it is in Scotland: you say you want to buy it, you sign a thing, you do some surveys and that and then - assuming you haven't got cold-resistant termites or bodies in the converted basement - 5,000 square metres of fine Canadian real estate is yours for the price of a one bedroom flat in Shepherd's Bush.   There isn't any of this 'gazumping' nonsense; agents don't seem to be massive cocks and people tend to do what they say they will.

In the England, it is different. Our offer has been accepted and the house is "Sold STC",  but someone could pop up offering 30p more than us and - in theory - the owners could take the offer and we would be back where we are, i.e. living in nice but leaky rented house with carpets like those you would find in an office just outside Coventry,  surrounded by sinister people who live in bungalows, drive top-of-the-range Audis and shout 'THIS IS A PRIVATE ROAD' after you, the suspension on your 2007 Ford Fusion Zetec audibly snapping as you speed away, bouncing over potholes on the way to the Co-op.

But. But.  I think it will be OK.  The owners (Scottish, very nice, fine taste in gardens and basins) seem excellent, and want to get back to Scotland.   While we wait, we wake up at odd hours in a cold sweat trying mentally to fit our enormous Canadian furniture into a house built by toothless Tudor cordwainers; even if we grease it up good and proper it's going to be a struggle worth buying tickets for, and some things will have to go, or go into storage (e.g. collection of fezzes, furniture built purely to hold your television set, The Complete Ant and Bee, etc).    I have spent 23 minutes looking up "How to cook on an electric Aga", an hour being put on hold by various 'mortgage providers' and 15 minutes talking to a solicitor who tells me there is nothing she likes more than 'dicey permissions'.

I will not go on more.  We will have to see what happens. It is too soon to show interest in the fact that the Parish Council have had to buy a new Dog Poo Bin themselves because Cambridgeshire County Council simply REFUSE to pay for it themselves.  I also have ZERO interest in the fact that pub (6 minutes' walk from our front door) has a Pie Night every Wednesday. Of even less interest are the quality of our cricket teas, and whether we will be featured in the monthly village newsletter, which makes a point of welcoming new people to the village. "Please welcome the new arrivals to Monkey Cottage at 1 Bingbong Lane.  They have just moved back to the UK from Canada. Say hello to NWM, JM and their cat, Steve".

Talking of Steve, this was the picture on his cage at the rehoming centre.  We got him two weeks ago. He is excellent but now gigantic, and chews on our toes in the night.

Pip pip!


Thursday, September 15, 2016


We have put an offer in on a house. The house is in fact a cottage with a thatched roof in a village with a cricket club, the WI, two pubs and a very low threat of flooding.  It is what North Americans think most houses in England are like (if they are not Downton Abbey or Buckingham Castle). 

I realised tonight that if this thing (that we weren't planning) happens, there's a very high chance I may 'take to my blog' again. Why? Because I know that you - my adoring readers and/or fans - will want to know every detail of the WI talk about "Swedish Customs, Cakes and Coffee" that I plan to attend in late November, and I want to tell you every detail about 'Fruits de Mar Panini' on the menu at Pub 2. 

Are you in?  I know I am by Christmas, if all goes according to plan. 

Pip pip!



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