Recruitment consultant to stand as US presidential candidate

help wanted recruitmentHave you ever seen a more unlikely headline?

OK, perhaps I am being unfair, but like Britney said, that’s my prerogative. Over the last month or so I have had the dubious pleasure of taking a peek into the wonderful world of the recruitment consultant (“RCs” – actually quite a fitting acronym).

Now, to put things into perspective for a second, what these people are dealing in – day in, day out – is a person’s livelihood, their career and the source of their fulfillment, motivation and moolah. So you would expect a certain level of diplomacy, tact and general care. Not always.

Here are two small examples by way of illustration:

  • An RC sends an email including a link to a map of an office where I’m due to go for an interview the next day. Ah, helpful. I click on the link. A map pops up of the place I used to work, six months ago which is on the other side of town to where the interview is, with an entirely unrelated company. Hmm.
  • An RC asks me to send through contact details for my referees. He notes in brackets that should the company decide to contact my referees, they will “respect the senility this situation demands.” Eh?

Anyway, judge not lest ye be judged and all that. I have dealt with some recruiters who have been very professional and helpful people. And my best friend is one. And I live with one who is very lovely. So they can’t all be bad, right?


A “positive connection”

tube ticket machineNext time you’re in a London Underground station buying a Travelcard or topping up your Oyster using a credit card, take note of the instructions on the machine:

“Insert your card until you feel a positive connection.”


So, don’t just shove it in as far as it will go and hastily type in your PIN – stand there and wait until you feel some kind of Zen-like affinity with the QuickTickets machine. How long will that take? Is that why there are always such long queues at South Ken? It’s someone desperately shoving their card in and out of the slot and looking longingly into the screen muttering, “I just don’t think we connect…it’s not you, it’s me…”

Back row of the Royal Festival Hall

sister actWhat better place to be on a sunny June afternoon than wedged into the very back row of the Royal Festival Hall?

Pretty much anywhere you might think. But I’m talking about the brand-new, bells and whistles RFH, with revamped acoustics and 2,788 (very comfortable) seats.

I somehow ended up seeing a 300-person “gospel meets baroque” choir there last Sunday and, even from the back, the sound was great. The choir of non-professionals were all wearing different coloured T-shirts, creating a rainbow effect. No Sister Act smocks, shame. They even did the gospel swaying and clapping thing, complete with one comedy lady in the middle swaying the opposite direction to everyone else.

Outside on the South Bank there were kids running in fountains, people having picnics, live music…not very “London” at all. No doubt someone will get happy slapped all over Queen Elizabeth Hall soon and we can all breathe easy again.

royal festival hall

Mean Murmurings

wicked whispersHave you seen the “Wicked Whispers” section from the Daily Mirror’s 3am girls?

They, apparently, give us the latest outrageous scandals from the kuh-ray-zee business that is show. Here’s today’s example:

WHICH crooner was stunned when a blonde he picked up asked him for £1500 after she slept over?

Answer: I don’t know. The mind boggles.

Anyway, this is all a long pre-amble to my revelation that I have had not one but two encounters with actual real-life celebrities recently. And I don’t just mean in the pages of Take-a-Break in my Sainsbury’s Local. I mean actual interaction in the tangible world people.

So, here are my very own Wicked Whispers – er, let’s call them Mean Murmurings

MM #1: Which well-known musical star revealed, over drinks at a recent family event, that while performing on stage he glanced at the autocue only to find that the lyrics had been replaced by a very graphic image of an extreme sexual act?

MM #2: Which pop singer blubbed all the way through the vows at a friend’s wedding last weekend? If you need a clue, here is a photo (not taken by me I might add) of aforementioned star attending said wedding.

mystery celebrity bum
Hazard a guess at the celebrity seat? Any correct entries win a dolly peg lady.

Sewing a dolly peg lady

dolly peg bagIn recent weeks I have regressed somewhat. About 50 years in fact. I seem to have taken on the guise of a 50s housewife. I create baked goods! I make my own soup! My latest creation is lemon drizzle muffins. Yum! And before that, pea and mint soup. Mmm.

Just goes to show, anyone can cook – as long as you can read a recipe. Thank goodness I learned to read! Thanks teachers and parents!

If I carry on like this though I might turn into one of the devotees of The Brocante Home blog whose readers have “a scrummy house, too much laundry and a child (or two) attached to your ankles”. Here’s a typical extract:

Chop up some old vintage scraps of embroidery and string together some bunting to hang along your washing line. It’s there. You might as well make it pretty. Oh and while we are on the subject keep an eye out for 50’s floral plastic covered hangers to leave swinging on your washing line for drying shirts and blouses without those bothersome peg imprints.

Informative! Inspirational! And – at long last! – a solution to the problem of vintage embroidery scraps clutter.

Oh – and if you want to know what a dolly peg lady is and how to make one, it’s number four on this list. (Surely by number 21 you’d be spouting nonsense like some kind of deranged stencil-the-driveway Martha Stewart…?)

How a good book found me

Strangers in ParadiseThe graphic novel adoration continues.

I just read the first volume of Strangers in Paradise. It’s really very good and you should get it. Or borrow mine.

Warning: extremely geeky sidenote follows.

How I came by this book is a little example of Long Tail economics at work.

A friend I know from years back now lives in Denmark. She found this blog via a link from my MySpace page. Reading my posting about graphic novels, she made a recommendation and I bought the book from Amazon – there’s no way it would be in my local Waterstone’s. Now I’m blogging about it and maybe someone I know will read the book too because they (maybe) trust my opinion.

Let’s face it, how else would someone who doesn’t resemble The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons ever end up coming across something like this?

And hey presto, via the magic of the information superhighway, filters and aggregators, a niche product finds its customer.

Geek-talk over.

Fat dogs addicted to spaghetti hoops

BBC3What’s going on at BBC3?

Here’s a selection from this week’s line-up at our national broadcaster’s third TV channel, helpfully sorted into its three main areas of focus:

1. Dog-related:

Help! My Dog’s as Fat as Me
Dog Borstal Unleashed

2. Food and dental:
Britain’s Worst Teeth
Freaky Eaters: Addicted to Chicken (Following last week’s Freaky Eaters: Addicted to Spaghetti Hoops)

3. Tourette’s:
F*** Off, I’m Ginger (Last week: F*** Off, I’m a Hairy Woman)
The Bulls*** Detective

Are we a nation of swearing, hairy, dog-obsessed TV watchers with questionable dietary habits? I’m moving to Kazakhstan.

Taking the Reiss

Suits you sirAs party of my dalliance with “getting a job” I bought a new suit at the weekend. This turned out to be quite an ordeal, mainly because it was sunny and I was hungover and desperate to get to the park, but also because I encountered a total sleaze of a salesman. What follows may sound a bit “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” but really…

After enduring some of his “patter” including interrogation-style questions on what I needed the suit for and then what kind of job I was looking for etc etc I emerged from the changing rooms (why can there not be a mirror inside the room?) to find that the suit I’d picked looked fine except you could see the lining of the pockets through the trousers. Not so good. Mr Sleaze then tried to convince me that he could get the pockets removed that afternoon and attempted all kind of sales chat. I wasn’t convinced and headed back in to get changed.

Out of my earshot, my shopping companion (who had also endured much of his chat) then said something to him like, “If you’re going to spend £100 on a pair of trousers you really want them to look right straight off.” To which he replied “Yeah, especially if you’re out of work.” The cheek! I wish I’d heard this at the time as low blood sugar levels might have caused me to mention that I’m not out of work and add something about how shop assistants slogging it out on a Saturday afternoon in a branch of Reiss don’t really have grounds to comment. But I didn’t. So I’m venting here instead.

Suffice to say, I got a very nice suit elsewhere.

Google resorts to toilet humour

toilet paperIs “because it’s too big” a good enough reason to stop using Google?

A slew of new ads from point out that 75% of us in the UK use one search engine. No prizes for guessing who that is.

They are urging people to join their “information revolution” and demand choice in your search options. The welcome message on their microsite is:

“There you are. So, one of our messages got to you. Great!”

Follow us kindred spirit, we are growing in numbers and soon we will all be freeeee..! Now, hold this flashlight and follow me to our HQ, it’s in a secret bunker under Soho Square..stay close, they’ve got spies everywhere..

The TV ads also come across as if they have been filmed in some kind of basement by a group of revolutionaries who have been driven underground. Like the poor, hard-up execs at Ask are fighting the good fight against the terrible oppressors who have a stranglehold on internet search and, therefore, our lives. Huh.

In the meantime, what are the überlords over at Google doing to change their apparent image as the evil dictators of search? Spurred on by April Fool’s Day, they came up with this new product: home wireless that connects via a “fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines.” Beats the carefully orchestrated PR campaign if you Ask me.

Cigars and jellyfish

cigarsHow long do you think it takes to learn to roll a cigar? Can’t be that long, surely. A few weeks? A month? Nope. How about nine months. Nine months. And that’s just the basic training.

At the Partagas cigar factory in Havana the trainees are all down in the basement making cigars that, if they don’t make the grade, will end up getting recycled. If you’re up to scratch after nine months – and can produce the target amount per day, which depends on size and complexity – you get to go upstairs. There were people there who’d been working in the factory for more than 30 years. That’s a lot of cigars.

There’s also someone whose sole job it is to arrange cigars in order of colour on a long table, from lightest to darkest. The point of this is so that when you open your box of Habanos they are all exactly the same shade. Like lining up your set of 40 colouring pencils when you were a kid. But a bit more tricky. And she had nine months’ training just to do that. Everyone seemed pretty happy. They were eating a lot of ice cream too.

Now, where better to enjoy a nice, hand-rolled cigarillo (because I am a lady) than on the deck of your very own beach hut on a small island off the North coast of Cuba? Probably nowhere. And perhaps a nice swim afterwards. Or not, if the water is full of Physalia Physalis. Aka Portuguese Man of War, aka weird-looking and very poisonous jellyfish. There’d been a storm the night before and there were hundreds of them washed up along the beach, plus the little navy blue whatsits that follow them around. So no swimming, but some interesting photos. They look a bit like they should be pursued by Sigourney Weaver and a flamethrower.
Physalia Physalis on Cayo Levisa Cuba
Physalia Physalis on Cayo Levisa Cuba