Monday, July 25, 2005

School's out for the summer

I am now back in the office after taking a day off at the end of last week. Scrappino is spending the summer holidays at the sea-side with my parents. You know how it is. He has six weeks summer holiday and I have 20 days a year. You do the math. So I have no alternative but to pack him off for six week’s indulgence while I stay home and pay the mortgage. It’s not a bad deal. My folks love having him. He loves going. And I get to keep my job. Everyone’s a winner. Kind of.

He was off school on Friday, so, as it was our last day together before he goes away, I decided to take the day off work and spend it with him. Just the two of us. We had wanted to go to the Science museum. I say ‘we’ but obviously, it was Scrappino’s choice really. But in the end, the situation on the tube convinced me to make alternative arrangements. I wasn’t scared to take him on the tube. I am determined to carry on as usual. Unfortunately, the Piccadilly, District, Circle and Northern lines were all either suspended or disrupted and after 10 minutes trying to figure out a viable route (an exercise resembling the Mornington Crescent game from I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue) we gave up and went to the picures instead. If you have a young child in need of entertainment, I can heartily recommend Madagascar.

After we came back from the cinema I packed his suitcase ready for his holiday. Cue frantic search for a pair of tzitzit for him to take with him. We almost turned the flat upside down looking for them so that by the time the case was packed the place was a tip. Saturday was busy so there was no time to tidy up. So yesterday morning I was up with the lark, rushing about the flat in a frenzy trying to make the place look tidy before my parents arrived to collect Scrappino. I may be 32, an independent working woman and mother of a young child. But as soon as my mum arrives I revert to being 12 again, hoping that she doesn’t notice that my bedroom is a tip.

In all the excitement of tidying the flat I missed most of what is usually the highlight of my week - Broadcasting House and the Archers omnibus. I know. You’re jealous of my dizzy lifestyle, aren’t you? But life is about small pleasures. And a cup of tea, a lie-in and Radio 4 is hard to beat on a Sunday morning. (Well, it is if you’re single…) I miss the great Eddie Mair, of course. But he’s gone on to greater things. And Fi Glover is a very close runner up. It's always a pleasure to hear a woman mastering sarcastic asides aimed at unsuspecting politicians.

The nervous clean-up was worth it. No comments from my folks about the state of the flat. And Scrappino was excited and ready to go when they came to collect him. So now I’m back at work. The flat is empty and I’ll be on my lonesome for six weeks. If you know me, and we keep making vague arrangements to meet up for a drink, now would be a great time to call. Although you might want to leave it a day or so. I’ve been out of the office for one day so I’m going to need a couple of days just to clear my junk emails. I arrived this morning to find 76 new messages. Only 35 of which were work-related. Two were from Amazon who contacted me to tell me that “People who bought James Blunt also bought Willy Mason” and would I like to buy it also? I hate it when they do that. It reminds me of my primary school teachers. “If James Blunt told you to put your hand in the fire, would you do it?” There were also 2 phishing emails from Barlyes (sic) Bank, advising me to hand over all my personal information or my bank account would be frozen. I've had similar messages from Lloyds, HSCB and Bank of America. But the latest from Barclyes was clever. Here's the opening paragraph:

"Barclyes Bank PLC. always look forward for the high security of our clients. Some customers have been receiving an email claiming to be from Barclays advising them to follow a link to what appear to be a Barclays web site, where they are prompted to enter their personal Online Banking details. Barclays is in no way involved with this email and the web site does not belong to us. Barclays is proud to announce about their new updated secure system. We updated our new SSL servers to give our customers a better, fast and secure online banking service. Due to the recent update of the servers, you are requested to please update your account info at the following link."

How clever is that? A phishing email warning you against phishing emails. What baffles me is that, despite the strongest firewalls and spam filters in the business, I am still offered Viagra and dodgy university degrees on an almost daily basis. And yet perfectly legitimate messages are blocked. A friend called last night to ask why I’d not replied to her invitation to join her for Seuda Shelishit. I told her I’d not received the invitation and she explained that she’d sent it via email. So this morning, while deleting offers of penis extensions I checked my junk mail folder and found this notice from her ISP:

"NOTICE: 'Block Abusive Language': CONTENT: Body contains 'shit'. ACTION: Quarantine email and alert sender."

If you are up for that drink, do get in touch. But if you send the message by email, keep it clean.

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