17 May 2016
It's kind of been a funny time. All of it.
I got pretty close to getting the job I'd asked the universe for. I was in a challenging environment and enjoyed most days, even though they were long and constantly full. I also had a man friend. And then he popped the question. And then I said "yes".
So after a few days of being on cloud 9, (for 2 weeks we celebrated with daily bubbles), I went back to work. I had happy news to share! But oh... I've been in this job for a few months. Surely they'll now think I would soon want children too. That my mind will be on other things. That there's not a long term place for me...
I'm sure that these thoughts were pretty irrational, but I was thinking them. My career was almost where I wanted it to be. I wanted people to see me as ambitious. I wanted them to see me as strong, and professional. Not a woman who was full of cupcakes and flowers and who couldn't wait to make babies.
Why was I so bothered?
I guess the truth was, that whether I was ready or sure about starting a family, I knew that I wasn't in a position to hold out for long, so it would be inevitable that it was on the cards. I couldn't deny that. Although of course I was never asked to by my managers (my colleagues were another matter!) but were they thinking it? Did they see me as a risk? Why did I see me as a risk?
After some ridiculous paranoia, and plenty of other things to keep my mind on other things, you'd think that I'd have forgotten about it...now I'm married I'm just waiting for the "I told you so" and "it was only a matter of time" when one day I am blessed with the little patter...
It's tough for women. We know that everything has to change when issue arrive, and inevitably no matter how much we or the men in our lives Lean In, we are the ones who have to make the hardest choices and convince our peers that we're still worthy of our positions...there is no doubt that it's harder for women to keep a career when life takes over...
29 July 2012
This could have been good. He told me the name of his first child (a boy of course) when he found the right woman and had kids - and it didn't freak me out. But when he asked me why I was slurring my words, I was too drunk to tell him it was because I'd shared half a bottle of red with him on an empty stomach, as he was too cheap to suggest we eat. So I ordered food.
Word to men. Don't judge me for my love of red wine.The Boomerang
This one makes the list, even though I dated this guy last year. The reason? Because nearly nine months after our last date, he sent a text out of the blue, asking whether I'd like to spend an afternoon in bed. My reply? "It's around 9 mths since last saw u. Glad u got in touch. Want to ask if u'd like to be at the birth?"
Word to men. You have to be something pretty unforgettable for a woman to lose her self respect for a quickie.The Chinese
I knew before our first date that this guy was going to be trouble. He kept trying to get me to meet him near his place, which was the other side of town. An hour before the date, he wanted to postpone because of an oven disaster (this is true); then expected me to jump at his bequest when his over disaster was over later that day. Contrary to what he must have thought, I had things to do.
Word to men. Be a gent and make it convenient. And don't be a loser and postpone for a ridiculous reason. Women are busy people too.The Mexican
The date went really well and he took steps to prolong the date by ordering extra drinks, and when I'd gone to the ladies, he ordered me a mint tea after our meal. The guy paid for pre dinner drinks, and for dinner, and walked me to the tube. He was good company, but I could not imagine touching his lips with mine. Also, every now and then, I'd see him rubbing his forehead or his eyes, as if something was stressing him out. He also had a number of mobile phones.
Word to men. Don't cheat on your wife.The Essex boy
We had joked before meeting about how I'd prepare a list of questions to test our compatibility. As he said he'd do the same, I thought I'd follow through, and prepared five questions to lighten the mood of our date. Things like showing him a glass half full of water and asking what he saw and finding a riddle on the Internet. This guy was good company. I whipped out my five questions and fired away. We had a laugh. He fished around in his Barbour jacket pocket, and pulled out a sheet of paper with 35 questions on it. At least this will be good for an hour and a giggle I thought. I was wrong. The questions he had for me:
"What are your attitudes to marriage?"
"Have you ever cheated on a boyfriend?"
"What do you think are important qualities in a partner?"
"What is your attitude to money?"
"Where do you buy your clothes?"
The good thing about the questions was that we worked out that we were after different things. Even so...
Word to men. Its a date not an interview.The Greatest dancer
He suggested we meet at Waterloo. He was late. I told him I'd wait by the baggage store. He decided to meet me in front of the platform he uses to get to/from London so I had to find him. We went to the Waterloo food market, great idea, although I had already eaten (food was never mentioned), and I was freezing because of the wait. He suggested some salsa dancing action and walked me thirty minutes to another part of town. In heels. And it was cold. And there was a closer (easier for me) tube to that venue. We got inside, and now, without the crisp freshness of the outdoors to mask it, I noted that he smelled of sleep (you know that smell a man's clothes picks up when he has slept in them?) Rank. So our dance lesson started. It was a perfect date as there was lots of partner swapping so I got to spend all of four and a half minutes with him and his sweaty hands.
Word to men. Wear clean clothes, don't be late. and be considerate when the likelihood is that your "lucky" lady will be wearing heels and its -5 outside.The Blondie
There was so much promise. We had so much in common, and when I wrote "hon" on my phone, it would auto correct to his name - it had to be special. I looked forward to the date after some great text banter, only to be met by a sappy man, who disliked his waster of a brother but fed him cash anyway. This also appeared to be a theme, as he showered his friends with gifts too. I'd be having none of that, and would eat this man alive. I cut this one short.
Word to men. You can't buy friends. (well not this one) and grow some.It was after this date when I had decided that I'd had enough. I'd forgotten why I was even trying,and thought maybe I was doing it for my friends' and family's benefit rather than my own. Then I met...
We had a good first date, although got drenched in the rain, he had no plan after the first pub, he got groped by another woman (which I found hilarious), we went dutch, and I missed my last train home. Even so, the first date turned into a few dates, until he asked "are we dating or are we seeing each other?" I'm not sure there is a difference between the two, and told him that I wasn't seeing anyone else, and we should maybe talk about our differences if he was keen to make things official. The difference I had in mind, was religion. This guy was an atheist, I am a catholic; and we spoke, and he said it wasn't a problem.
For the next few weeks, he wanted me to meet his friends, go to a wedding with him, and to meet my parents. I went away for a weekend, and the night before I left, went to his. Driving home, I texted my friend and said I wasn't sure I was feeling it. "What has he done?" she asked. There was nothing.Was this just cold feet? Was my thinking twice about mentioning him to my family or introducing him to my parents (it had only been six weeks) my being fussy and I should go with it? He was so willing to please, attentive (although we always went dutch), and seemed to be pretty much content (no one wants to date a guy who is after a girlfriend just to fill time). Because I couldn't put my finger on whatever it was I was feeling, I didn't say anything, and on my return from my weekend away went over to his.
"So, how into all this religious stuff are you?"
I explained how I sometimes go to Church, that I pray, and that when I have children, they will be baptised (all the things I'd mentioned before).
"Yeah, well, I'm not sure I can be down with all that".
It transpires that he had had such a good time that weekend at his friends' wedding, who had a registry office wedding with such a fun party afterwards, and were "their own people" that it got him thinking.
"A wedding day doesn't make a marriage". Those were the only words I said to him.
What a prick. A week before, he was commenting on how I was different to the other girls he'd dated as I was pretty with it and had no psycho tendencies; and suddenly, he had a good time at a wedding and decided that I was not my own person.
Although I truely feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I felt not very much when he told me, I am annoyed. A little at myself for not working out what my instincts were trying to tell me (I wont go into the dreams I'd been having since meeting this guy, or my constant anxiety); but mainly at him. He was the one constantly pushing for more, whether it was for me to stay over, or meeting my parents.
Word to men. Think before you speak. If you're going to dump a girl, don't make her drive over to your place. And when you do it, (especially when you've had a weekend to think about how), try throwing in a word or two about how its a shame because you'd had a good time over the last couple of months, and how she is truely a wonderful person and you're sorry to see it end. That is what a gentleman would do.
07 May 2012
1. The Goodge Street Food Market - Goodge Place - Monday to Friday 11 til 3pm
There are only a handful of stalls in this tiny little side street - but that's all you need when you have a salad bar; a Turkish and Thai stall; and my two favourites - the Hoxton Beach Felafel's stall and Freebird Burrito - which take it in turns to tickle my taste buds and keep me the voluptuous vixen that I am...
2. The Torrington Place Farmers' Market - Torrington Place, Bloomsbury - Thursday lunch time only
You'll find her a collection of tarts, pasta, cheese, venison, boar, pig, lamb, pasties, ice cream and some - much organically grown; and what's more, you can take some of your favourite ingredients home with you to try to recreate the symphony you'll no doubt experience on your visits. My favourite? Mersham's £3.50 venison burgers with home made sauces. Yep. I really said £3.50. Not only that but you can take home some venison cuts to enjoy when you go home.
3. The Real Food Market - Waterloo - Friday and Sunday - 12 til 8pm Saturday 11 til 8pm
This is a new discovery and wow the excitement as I walked closer towards the buzz a month ago at 7pm - for the mere fact that it was early evening and still open, which meant that I could take my street food loving to a totally new level. This food market is massive and there is nothing you will not find. Visit visit visit! My favourite here is dessert - Churros and chocolata from Churros Garcia. The guys there just would not stop filling my cup full of churros which totally blew the socks of the churros I had in Barcelona the month before. With market food available this late, I cannot understand why people still go to restaurants...
4. The Good Food Market - St Katharine Docks - Friday 10 til 4pm
I never had a favourite here...I started with a safe (but heavenly) paella, and travelled the world to Thailand, Peru, Nigeria (I had my first taste of Nigerian food),France...it is all good. Catch it on a sunny day, and you will be forgiven for forgetting that lunch time was over and you were still meandering amongst the foodies and the stalls, taking in the rainbow of scents and sights...and I often did forget that lunch was up...but I could afford to in those days...
5. Sunday (Up)Market - The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane - Sunday 10 til 5pm
I paid my first visit here last Sunday, and it absolutely made my wet, dreary, not going very well Sunday afternoon. I was soaked, hungry, cold, and on entering a small side door just off Brick Lane, I was met with food from every continent, a wonderful band playing swing, we were undercover, and there was seating. This really was a truly well organised food market, and the noodle soup I had totally hit the spot. If I see them again, I'll be sure to get their name down to share with you all. In short, forget Sunday brunch, just go (Up)Market.
So if you got this far in my post, you may think me being slightly indulgent in my food fantasies. I could easily spend my days touring the world for authentic, fast, and orgasmic tasting food, but I can't. So this is really a call for aid. Please leave a comment...one which tells me where your favourite food market is (anywhere in the world), and the one stall people should really not miss...
22 April 2012
What you probably don't realise is that I am a lot cooler than you think I am. I am, of the moment. I am learning to play ukulele. I go Muay Thai boxing and to Zumba classes. I'm a food market connoisseur, and will be learning to make do and mend. So when my friend from New York WhatsApp'd me the other week, and asked me if I'd heard about a British writer called E.L. James who's books were taking the US by storm, she could not believe it when I told her I had never heard of her or her books. Film rights to this "adult romance" trilogy had just been snapped up by Universal and everyone was (and still is) talking about it.
A quick google about the first in the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey told me that US women of all ages were having their temperatures raised and their hearts (and loins) beating and it all resulted from this literotica...but its not without its controversy.
The story is about two 20 somethings - Christian Grey, a multi zillionaire with a penchant for BDSM; and a recent graduate Anastasia Steele, a virgin who moves over to the "dark" side by the charming, beautiful, powerful and rich Grey. Grey offers Steele the opportunity to have a "relationship" with him, based on a contractual agreement where Steele becomes his weekend submissive, and agrees to three good meals a day, a personal trainer, a new wardrobe, with some whips and leather in the Red room of pain thrown in. By the time Anastasia decides she doesn't want to lose Grey, it is clear that the love making in the book does not meet the suggested expectations raised from the start, although the scenery (his room, her room, on the piano, in the lift, on the boat, in the Red room of pain ...you get the picture) is always a welcome change.
You can probably tell that I wasn't overly impressed, but the books are an easy and enjoyable/care free read and I want to know what happens next. The promise of some BDSM action failed to deliver in the first of the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey and half way through Fifty Shades Darker (which was only bought because of the cliff hanger at the end of the first) its still pretty vanilla. The appeal of the stories is probably the result of some decent marketing, the popularity of the Kindle (no one will know what you're reading), the lovable rouge Grey character, underlying love story, and the fact that the uber conservative US dislike some of the themes suggested by the book (the BDSM, submissiveness, child abuse and paedophilia) and the fact that women are lapping up the story. Some are feeling uncomfortable about the fact that a storyline of this nature is sending women into a frenzy of horniness, without noting that although the suggestion is there, the intimate liaisons featured are (so far) pretty vanilla, and although there is the underlying promise of something raunchier that hasn't (yet) delivered. That's not a problem if you're happy to have your temperature slightly raised at an almost believable love story. That and the fact that I love being "of the moment" means I'll probably buy the final in the trilogy.
My best bits (so far):
- The love story is a nice and its easy reading, requiring pretty low concentration - everyone needs some switch off time...for all other times, there's a bit of David Copperfield...
- Creating a drinking game - a shot for every time the following words appear in print: holy shit, my inner goddess does a pirouette, up and down, on my sex
- The relief I felt when there was almost a sex scene but the chapter ended (once you've read five or six...)
My worst bits (so far):
- When the next chapter started with the sex scene I thought I'd avoided (when my own inner goddess did a double flip and kissed her teeth)
- When the following words appeared in print: holy shit, my inner goddess does a pirouette, up and down, on my sex
- It's not fantastically written and if it wasn't for the underlying storyline/plot, can feel a little repetitive
19 September 2011
I took a job in March, not a solicitor role, but a job which I thought would be a good way of getting me used to conventional private practice after being out for a while. Also it was a City firm, not at the top, but well known enough to potentially mean something on my now rather dishevelled looking CV, so it would be good experience generally.
It meant a slight pay cut, but when I worked out my contracted hours/pay, what I'd gain in travel and free time, and the fact that my practising certificate and CPD (including SRA management stage 1 course) would be looked after while I was there, I thought made the job a good stop gap whilst I continued to look for work elsewhere. There was also in the depths of my mind the potential could be there for a NQ position.
I remember the interview. I knew I would get the job, why wouldn't I? I was over qualified for it. I remember being asked about how I'd deal with being over burdened with work, and recall responding how I was not afraid of hard work, but also that I also knew what reasonable looked like, so I wouldn't be taken advantage of. So then came contract negotiations. On a one year fixed term contract they tried to get me to sign up to a three month notice period. Whittled it down to what I thought was a good compromise at one month. I asked about overtime and was told that it wasn't paid, but also that it wasn't usual for there to be a requirement to work long hours in the department. Great. I need a work life balance, I've got a proper job to look for.
So I start my job. Its not too long in when I realise that I am doing the same job as a solicitor at a considerably lower pay, and the volume of work I had been given required me to work considerably longer hours than I had been expecting. But I enjoyed the responsibility. I enjoyed the work. And I enjoyed the fact that I was performing, in the most difficult of situations (poorly organised contract, lack of direction, support and training, and over allocation of work to name a couple). I was achieving.
"I know what reasonable looks like" ran around my head, and I took a step back to recognise that a 50+ hour week did not resemble reasonable.So I contact HR. I say that I suspect she wasn't aware of how busy the department was when negotiating my contract, and filled her in. Could something be done? She'll talk to the department head the following day. A week passed. I didn't want to be a pest. Two passed and I got restless. I got in touch and she was on holiday, she'll sort it out when she gets back. Basically I got the run around for 6 weeks before it was "addressed". And only after I realised that I'd been fobbed off for all of that time, was it that I realised that I was getting used to being in to work at 7am and leaving after 7, 8, 9, 10pm each night. What happened to my job hunt?
I contact HR again, and the following day, department head pops by and informs me that the last thing he wanted was an unmotivated workforce, who felt unappreciated. These are words which I'd never uttered. He knew his department morale was at an all time low. We'd talk.
My supervisor contacts me, and informs me that an in principal increase has been agreed for an additional role I had agreed to carry out, but nothing formal had been done. So cash for the additional role, but what about all of the additional hours? I write to my supervisor, and the department head suggests I arrange a meeting with him. Of course, he goes away for two weeks and by this time four months has passed.
Its d-day and I'm called in to the den. I wasn't feeling nervous, and was quite optimistic that someone who had reached such heights and appeared so understanding when we had first spoken, was a reasonable person and understood what made people tick.
So tell me @little_lawyer, where do you live? What do your parents do? Why did they come to the UK? What university did you go to?I had clearly read this all wrong...
He expected all of his team to work hard, so the additional hours worked were neither here nor there, and anyway, its about the quality and quantity of output not how long it takes to do something. I had a few weeks previously received a dazzling review...I suggested that if I wasn't working at the required competency level, it was a bit late to start suggesting I was not performing.
I was not "visible" in the team and every time he saw me I was sat at my desk working. What. The. Fruck. He must have skimmed the bit about my work load. Also, I had a great relationship with qualified and non qualified colleagues (they're a good bunch), he was never in, what did he know!
He couldn't see how I "added value" to the team. Obviously he missed the emails and training sessions I had organised for his qualified and non qualified team without which the department was flailing under the pressure of workload and lack of training.
And anyway, and more importantly, he had the cash to pay me more if he wanted to, but what made me think I was worth more when he had the cream of the crop from Cambridge and Oxford working for him?
I assumed my usual (and recognisable) position at my desk.
That was two months ago. Ever since, my constant IJ sounds, "I'm going to resign today" but all of my friends and family keep telling me that I'm better in a job than out, and the news keeps telling me the recession is deepening so I should be grateful to have this job. There have been sleepless nights. My heart is constantly palpitating. For a time I was in excruciating pain in my back and face due to tension. And more importantly, I think its time to take the work "resilient" from my CV. In that brief 15 minutes, every stereotype about city law was confirmed, and almost every ounce of self belief and esteem had been verbally beaten out of me.
Optimistic. Scrub that.
Realistic. I know my place and others are only too pleased to keep me in it. I've not yet worked with anyone I have thought impressive and would wish to emulate but background counts.
Candid. It has taken me nearly two months to pluck up the courage to write this. I'm embarrassed by my career. I believed that hard work and half a brain would get me the career I thought I deserved. I am battered and bruised, beaten and defeated.
18 March 2011
Feeling breezy, knowing I'll definitely make my train, I take a seat in a section where no one was sitting. Put my bag beside me, but within minutes a woman comes along and asks me to move it. Not unreasonable even though there's plenty of space elsewhere, but I'm reading tonight's Evening Standard, so felt I needed room to put my bag somewhere. I move to a section where there is more room and take my seat.
Train leaves....train arrives at intermediate station...
Three girls jump on, and take the two free seats in my section, one sitting next to me with her friend on her lap the other opposite me. She's leaning on me, and although I know better than to expect my personal space not to be invaded on public transport, its unreasonable to expect me to make the remainder of my journey as a cushion for a stranger.
"Would you mind not leaning on me please?"
I'm not sure how else I could have asked, but I obviously asked in the wrong way. The abuse begins...first laughing in my face for asking because that's rude, then I'm cheeky for saying anything at all, at my age I should have known better than to be so rude..., I should have shut up...I quite happily would have but they were relentless.
I kept my composure and suggested that they should take a look at their own conduct, and I asked if there was any way I could have asked which wouldn't have annoyed them. It just made them worse.
I should watch myself because, "you don't know what I'm capable of" and they begin to become aggressive. They continued to suggest that I should shut up, then talked amongst themselves laughing about it, and saying how they loved it when they made old people shut up and how great it was. All this, because of course, I should be intimidated by these three young girls who decided to make my journey home, and start to the weekend a memorable one.
Mr Knightinshiningarmour sat opposite me and piped up suggesting that one of them takes the free seat in the other section - more ammunition and they started on him too. Asking if we were together, suggesting that if they were adults he wouldn't have got involved, so I pointed out that there are 3 of them attacking me, and what made them think it was acceptable to behave in such a way anyway? I think I actually said they should have more respect for their elders because they kept going on about how old I was.
I realised that these girls would not stop talking, insinuating, commenting, and laughing at me, so I decided that I'd said enough and it wasn't worth it. Nose in book, I let them talk amongst themselves, and apologised to Mr Knightinshiningarmour who tried to help which only seemed to give them ammunition to make lewd comments about the two of us.
Finally my stop. I get off, passed them (thank goodness without a hiccup) and queued to get off the train.
"No wonder she needed all that room, look how wide she is!"
If these girls thought they were so good, why did they wait for me to leave before make personal comments about how I looked. I turned back, walked up to them, and suggested they should have said those things to my face rather than to wait for me to get off. Oh the shouting as I walked away. The little cows didn't get off and face me directly though...
I wouldn't have mentioned their race, but I got off a train, and Mrs Elderlyblacklady came up to me.
"Please don't judge them all, they're not all like that"
She continued by telling me how her younger sister used to be like those girls but how she's different now. These were three black girls and I judged those girls on their behaviour. A shame that they did fit a stereotype which Mrs Elderlyblacklady was clearly well aware of. She felt embarrassed for young black girls generally, and I felt embarrassed that she felt that way. And of course sorry that Mr Knightinshiningarmour had to continue his journey with them.
It did cross my mind on my walk home however, whether if they were 3 white girls, 3 polish girls, 3 asian girls, 3 indian girls or any mix of those races the same thing would have happened. Maybe in certain areas of town, or in certain cliques...
25 January 2011
Through no fault of her own, rather than get on and do the job she trained to do, the now well known Sian Massey is at the centre of a high profile scandal, following inappropriate (and undeserved) comments regarding her ability to referee football matches, because according to the "experts", its a man's job.
Massey was to assist the referee in this week's Crewe v Bradford game, but was "withdrawn" from her duties. This weekend she was to work, but has been withdrawn from duties once again, because it would be "unfair on the clubs".
There has been a backlash against the dismissal of Andy Gray and subsequent resignation of Richard Keys, but lets face it, Sky didn't really have a choice if it did not deal with the issue once it was made public unless it wanted to be accused of third party harassment. According to some of our fine nation's best loved celebrities, this kind of banter is normal, and restricting people so that they couldn't have a laugh and a joke in such a way would ruin the fun.
Bruce Forsyth is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, ‘We all say things. We’re all cursing and saying sexist things. When you’re off camera, you do say these things for a bit of a laugh. But it’s just to relax.’ Charlotte Jackson looks extremely relaxed here.
But there's a bigger picture and more at stake here. This isn't a story about sexism in the work place, restricting freedom of speech or political correctness gone mad. Its by far wider reaching than all of that. This is about diversity in the work place. The number of female sports presenters/the number of female stockbrokers or bankers/the number of female judges/the number of female chief executives...do you see where I'm going? There are obvious barriers to entry for anyone wishing to penetrate a profession which is dominated by people of a particular sex or race. Those who chose to try, chose also to accept and tolerate the kind of banter that is ultimately demeaning, or face career suicide if they speak up. Maybe worse, those who move on to alternative careers or those who have the potential but don't even try.