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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pin Head

I don't mind admitting that I'm behind the times with music. This is why I'm only just now figuring out who Paolo Nutini is. I knew his songs from the radio, and liked them, but I thought it was a chick singing, possibly Macy Gray or someone. I was quite surpised to find out he's a pretty boy from Scotland. He may be a pretty boy but he doesn't play any instruments and he's got a weird singing face. I think he feels the emotion of his lyrics a little too much. I understand the poor lad's singing about his broken heart but it just looks like he's doing a really painful pooh. I do like him though.

It seems I am once again below average. The circumference of my head measures 21 inches and the average for a woman is 22 1/2 inches. I figure this is why I always look ridiculous in sunglasses. And why I can stick my head through bars without having to call the fire brigade.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Diggin' Up Worms

I forget what a healer music can be. I've been feeling a bit flat lately. The weather plays a big part. The Wind is nothing but a big, overbearing bully. I was gonna nominate it for eviction but then I rememebered this ain't Big Brother. Ballymena is in a slump too. There's no life about it. Where's all the clowns to make me laugh?

But back to music being a healer. What else is there to do on a Monday afternoon other than stick the tunes on full blast and have a bouncy disco to yourself. It's the simple things in life that make me happy, like dancing and sweets, clouring in, climbing trees and chasing after stray cats. It's when the stray cats chase after you that it all turns a bit sour.

I'm on the job hunt again. A manager who thinks it's viable to have an employee working 11 days in a row is a manager who is not only stupid but also a fool. A stupid fool. Just lately I've had an urge to climb Slemish. I know it's time for a change when I want to head for the hills.

I shall leave you with a link to MGMT-Time To Pretend. This song has the best intro ever. Also the video is awesome. Makes me think of going on a cruise to the windmills with Mels in her knightrider car. Adventures + Mels = Good Times!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lost In Lopburi

To follow on from a couple of weeks ago, about my last month spent in Thailand, here’s a letter I wrote to mum but never sent (even just posting a letter involved going to the post office where no one would be able to speak English):

Dear Mum,

I don’t want to worry you but I just wanted to let you know how I’m feeling. To be honest, I’m feeling scared. I’ve come back to Lopburi but not back to what I’d left behind. I miss my apartment and I miss the security of working. I know that in time these things will fall into place but right now I feel unsettled and worried. It’s bad enough not having a job at home but in a different country it’s even worse.

I know there’s no point wishing I hadn’t come back because it’s done now and I have to deal with it.

I never wanted to leave here so soon but I think I’d totally psyched myself up for coming home that I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. A part of me wishes I wasn’t so far away.

I guess I’m just feeling mixed up by everything. My ‘last’ week in Lopburi was extremely stressful and frustrating. Romy and I both felt lost, betrayed and helpless. We were scared and felt like there was no one here to help us. We ran away without saying goodbye to our friends, our students, without any acknowledgement of what we’d done, without any appreciation from school. It wasn’t the way we’d wanted to leave.

So when I found out that I didn’t have to go it just seemed right that I should stay, go back to Lopburi and face the situation…

And face the situation I did. I got myself work with another school and I went back to my old one to try and get the rest of my wages. The Head of Department could do nothing for me (it was out of her hands) but she seemed sympathetic in her own way. Another teacher, the kindest, gentlest being I’ve ever met, gave me a 1000 baht out of her own pocket. A thousand baht in our money is just under £20 but in Thailand it goes a lot further. She took me aside and I tried to refuse but she insisted. She gave me a hug and I knew, of all the other teachers, she was the only one that really cared. My new employers were also very understanding and supportive of my situation. Before I left they told me to get in touch if I wanted to go back teaching and they reassured me that all the paperwork would be legit.

This is life though. It doesn’t matter how far from home you are there are always people who will help you. Most people are good, kind people. I know many of them but not all of them. Not yet anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting In The Mood For Waffle Day

In a mere TWO days it will be International Waffle Day. Yes, such a day exists! And why not? One day I'll own my very own waffle house. Here's what I'd have on my menu:

Apple and Cinnamon Waffle - Cinnamon flavoured waffle drizzled with hot apple sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Traditional Waffle - Waffle with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream.

Banoffee Waffle - Waffle topped with sliced banana, hot toffee sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Plain Waffle - Hot waffle with any two scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, honeycomb, caramel or strawberry)

Coconut Waffle - Coconut flavoured waffle with coconut ice cream, drizzled with hot choclate sauce.

Chocolate Fudge Waffle - Chocolate flavoured waffle with scoop of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce.

Malt Waffle - Malted waffle with scoop of malteasers ice cream and sprinkled with chocolate flakes.

I think, of all my buisness plans (Hannah's Hot Air Balloon Rides, Scabby Birds Escort Agency), the waffle house is definitely the most promising.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nigelly's Buns

Mels was over at the weekend. I was useless and didn’t get a treasure hunt organised for her but we did go on a wee excursion. It was Friday 13th and Mel, being obsessed with scary stuff, ghosts and such like, wanted to do something scary. I asked everyone I knew and the only option anyone came up with was camping at Tardree forest. I don’t know what would be scarier, the Blair Witch or the perverts out dogging. Anyway, we ended up going to Skerry Graveyard, which is actually quite scary, although perhaps I only have these associations because of the time Mel and I tried to drive down the Mouth of Hell.

Do you know how quickly Nelly can whip up a batch of fairy cakes? Very. When I arrived home yesterday mum presented me with a batch of delicious looking chocolate buns. Instead of a smile she got a stroppy glare and me mumbling about having given up chocolate for lent. So chocolate free buns were made and Mel and I expertly decorated them. They looked like those buns Jamie Oliver and the wean’s decorated for Comic Relief.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Poor Seller

I almost forgot to write about this. Today in work Horatio pointed at a t.shirt and asked me who the guy was on it. Che Guevarra. But I should know that because I'm 26. Wee Prawn on the other hand is 19. I remember when I was that age and Mum and Bert would laugh hysterically at the things I came out with. Wee Prawn remarked to Horatio yesterday that them Bin Laden t.shirts don't seem to be selling too well. Oh, to be that age again.

Lazy Boy Bert's Mid Morning Snooze

It's amazing, you know, that a mother (Pearlie) could know her son (Bertie Boy) for nearly 50 years and still not know certain things about him. I was chatting to Pearlie about Bert's habit of stashing. As long as I've known Bert he's always stashed goodies like chocolate bars and buns. He did this because, in our house, if you left tasty things lying around they'd be scoffed for sure. Bert wasn't the best at stashing though. Either he'd hide it somewhere stupid, like under the cushion on the sofa, where the dogs would find it, or he'd hide it somewhere so cunning he'd totally forget where it was. This was all news to Pearlie. I'm not sure that she found it particularly interesting news but what else are you meant to talk to old birds about?

While we're on the subject of Bert being nearly 50, Wacko Jacko (aka Clint) walked in on Bert today while he was having a mid-morning snooze. Wacko was apparently disgusted and exclaimed:

Huh, it's bad enough ye sittin' playing that clarinet all day but sleeping?

Bert's feeble reply was that he was turning 50 this year. But as mum pointed out, what was his excuse when he was 40? He was psyching himself up for it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

There are many reasons to leave this country. High up on the list are the shootings that took place at Antrim's army barracks on Saturday night. I don't normally talk about things like this in my blog 'cos I hate even thinking about it let alone writing about it but I need to mention it because it's just down the road from me and I'm not ignorant.

On a lighter note, I'm back home after a lovely few days in Norwich (now the sick person capital rather than the road kill capital) seeing dad and Katkins. Ever since visiting the ice cream parlour in Ballymena Zoe and I have had cravings for hot waffles with ice cream. We mentioned this to Abbie who said we should visit The Waffle House in Norwich. This place has inspired me to open one up here. It's amazing.

Now I'm back at home watching Fish Face Freddy, who is full of devilment, harassing The Good Cat. We reckon The Good Cat will probably leave home soon. Maybe she'd like to come to South America with me. I'm seriously trying to muster the gumption to set up a treasure hunt for Mel, who's home this weekend, but I'm not sure if my brain'll be working well enough. Maybe I could just recycle Bert's treasure hunt from a few years ago.

Why The Dream Ended

I never fully explained why I had to leave Thailand. It's pretty complicated but I'll try my best.

When I got the teaching job there Romy and I were the only 2 teachers who weren't with a British or US based agency. We were with a Thai 'govermental agency'. This 'agency' consisted of one woman, the lady who picked me up from the airport, and her assistant who's name was Pink. Pink was the one who settled us in and took us to all the relevant places to sort out our permits. I was teaching with my school for 5 months in total. We eventually got our work permits 4 months after teaching.

This is where it gets complicated. I went over on a tourist visa. After a few months there I was issued a non-immigrant B visa. This entitled me to stay in the country for a year. You need the non-immigrant B to get a work permit but once you get your work permit the non-immigrant B is null and void. Eventually I got my work permit.

Now this is where it gets super complicated and I'm not even entirely sure what exactly happened. By the time I got my work permit there were other teachers starting at my school. One was an older man from the UK. Frankly, we thought he was weird but he'd been in the country a lot longer than us and so I guess we were influenced by him. He informed us that he'd got a Thai friend to phone the local office that issued our permits. According to them Pink had called to say that we had resigned, Thus making our work permits void.

Now, had we known this we would have had 14 days to leave the country and come back on a tourist visa, but we only found out about 3 weeks later. After the 14 days we weren't even meant to be in the country, let alone work in it. We were also getting fined 500 Baht everyday we overstayed our welcome. So we freaked. We called the British Embassy and they confirmed our situation was bleak.

It gets better though. On top of us accruing fines we were owed a month's pay. It was up to our agency to pay us as the school had paid the agency upfront for 6 months. The situation got so bad that the school had to pay us half the month's wages out of their own pocket (this was a poor school). Obviously our head of department was as concerned about the situation as we were but for different reasons. She wanted us to continue teaching even though we legally weren't allowed to. It all got so convoluted and twisted that me and Romy felt we had no choice but to bail. This meant walking out on our apartments without paying what we owed them.

We packed all our shit up in one day, gave all the stuff we couldn't pack away to the teachers that had work permits and were staying. We stayed up 'til 3 in the morning because there was a door man in our apartments who was likely to get suspicious if he saw me and Romy leaving with all our bags. As it happened he woke up anyway and asked us in Thai where we were going. Romy said Chiang Mai. He seemed happy enough and we went to the train station. We left what had been our home for the past 5 months at 3 in the morning without saying goodbye to anyone.

The plan was to spend a few days in Bangkok 'hiding out' and then get planes back to the UK where we were allowed to be. We were hoping we could get away with the fines at the airport because our non-immigrant B's hadn't been stamped and so according to our passports we hadn't overstayed our visas. We'd saved the money for the fines anyway just in case. We enjoyed a crazy few days in Bangkok that passed by in a blur of Sang Som and Pina Colada's. Romy went to get her flight the night before I was due to get mine. She made it through without the fines and landed safely back in London. I'm sure she was never as glad to see it.

I met up with some of the teachers for one last Mexican meal the evening that I was due to catch my plane. I was informed that one of the teachers at my school looked at my documents and according to them, all was fine. Meaning that I didn't need to leave. I could stay and find a new teaching job. I remember calling mum literally an hour before I was leaving and telling her I was staying after all. I went back to Lopburi with my mates and stayed with Brad.

I'd been back in Lopburi for about a week and was getting myself sorted with more teaching when I was informed that the teacher who told me everything was fine was wrong. Right back to square fecking one. Still not allowed to be in the country, or teach, and getting fined even more. I think that was the point where I finally gave up. I'd done all I could to try to stay there but it just wasn't happening. I accepted my fate and dealt with the disappointment by believing that there was a reason why I was meant to be at home.

I finally went home a month after Romy. It was the strangest month of my life. I have much more to write about it but just now my fingers are sore and I'm parched. I haven't done it justice in this blog and I'll never fully understand what exactly happened so maybe I'll never be able to.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Growing Feet and Smelly Socks

Brrrrrr. I'm glad it's March but have we not endured enough winter weather? Woke up this morning to snow. Me and snow haven't really got on since I was the age of 7. I don't like wet and eventually snow, as pretty as it can be, turns to wet, making me wet. I think my friend Romy is the only one who understands how much I hate being wet. It makes being clean very difficult. Of course I am clean (mostly) but not liking being wet makes it harder for me to eenjoy the whole cleaning process.

Having said that the I don't really mind getting wet. It's when you get wet and then you get cold. Cold and wet. My two least favourite conditions. Sod's Law that I ended up being born in Ireland rather than Jamaica. I once met a Thai girl who loved Britian for it's coldness. Maybe the Stork got us mixed up.

Anyway, this is just rambling. A blog-filler. So I might as well tell you about my horrible customer yesterday. A fella in his mid 30's. Smelly. I asked if I could help him get a size in jeans. He told me 32 waist and 33 leg. This would make him the size of average Joe. I don't think his name was Joe though 'cos his waist was considerably bigger than 32 inches and he was a shortarse. And he smelt really really bad! But I'm not just mean and slagging off innocent customers. There's a reason for writing about him. He'd picked out a shoe and asked if I could get him the other one. I asked him what size and he said a 10. I got him the other shoe and he tried it on. I asked if they were ok and he said: I don't know, there's not a lot of room, you know, in case my feet might grow.

He was in his mid 30's, I'm pretty sure his feet had stopped growing. We didn't have the next size up so he didn't take the shoes because there wasn't a nig enough gap at the back. For his feet to grow. Maybe I'm being ignorant and there's some kind of ailment that makes your feet grow. If there is then I apologise to the dude. But I still reccommend that he goes home and takes a bath unless, of course, he's like me and doesn't like gtting wet.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What's Happened To Mr. Muscle

Remember this guy? Mr. Muscle. Loves the jobs you hate. Katkins (congratulations and jubilations) was quite endeared by him. That's probably why Graham Coxon was always her favourite member of Blur.

Well, Mr. Muscle seems to have been on the 'roids lately 'cos he's looking slightly more buff than he used to. In fact, he looks a lot like my boyfriend*. But surely the whole point of the earlier ads was that Mr. Muscle Oven Cleaner was so powerful that even a scrawny weed could do a good job. The new buffed-up version totally defeats the purpose. Perhaps the old Mr. Muscle got too big for his boots and started requesting more money.

And anyway, Mr. Muscle causes cancer. Fact! (according to Mel's dad).


Sunday, March 01, 2009

So There Ye Go

The nicest thing I did this weekend was meet my big sis at the new ice cream parlour in Ballymena.
Unfortunately they didn't have the hot waffles so I settled for a Knickerbocker Glory. I had caramel ice cream, toffee fudge ice cream, marshmallows, more fudge, caramel sauce and white chocolate sauce (Like I said before, white chocolate isn't really chocolate). Pure sugar heaven....

I went out with some girls from work on Friday night. Apparently I am hilarious to go out drinking with because I don't mind getting up on the dancefloor on my own and dancing like an idiot. Wee Prawn needed a good night out with the girls so I was glad to oblige.

I stayed in on Saturday night and updated my CV...yeah, I know. There were a few reasons for this, the most obvious being that I am at the end of my tether in my current job. I thought my last boss was bad at running a buisness but he's got nothing on my current employers. My male boss at the minute speaks to some of his staff like they are dirt. I dream of foreign lands.

So there ye go. Next weekend I'll be in the roadkill capital of England, Norfolk, visiting my dad and sister. Yeeeoow! And the weekend after that Mels is back in town (and Nelly has promised her treacle tart) and I'm pretty sure the weekend after that is when Spring officially starts and we are rewarded with an extra hour of daylight for our bravery in surviving Winter.