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Eclipse Day 2015

I drafted most of this entry on 20th March but then ran out of time to finish it, then was too busy on the weekend and forgot about it. 20th March seemed like as good a day as any to update, given there was a solar eclipse that morning. :) I am trying to get into the habit of updating at least once a month.

So, yes, there was a solar eclipse. Not 100% in Birmingham - I think we had maybe 90% but can't be certain - but it was very exciting nonetheless. Here in the office we worked out that the best way of viewing it was through the blinds, although there were a fair amount of people in the car park with pinhole cameras, too.

It was fab, actually - there was an air of tangible excitement at around 9.15 as everyone realised it was getting darker. (I imagine if I were still at Woodcock Street this momentous event would be greeted with disinterest and/or stupidity from my ex-colleagues...) My line manager was equally as excited as I was, so I felt somewhat less guilty for not doing any work for about half an hour. :D

The last time we had a solar eclipse visible in the UK was 11th August 1999. I remember because it was my mum's birthday. She was at work, but I can remember watching it out of the living room window, via a reflection in the roof of a car that was parked on the drive. Bizarrely, it was a red car, and for about an hour it didn't occur to me that it wasn't my mum's car (because she was at work) but someone else's. I remember that there were no shadows, the birds stopped singing - it was really eerie.

Not quite as eerie this time around, as there was more sun still visible, but as the sun re-emerged there were really pretty tree-branch patterns on the blinds.

Anyway, it cheered me up after a godawful journey on the bus that morning (the 120 was late so it was absolutely rammed, and since I have such a short journey to Bearwood it always makes me unnecessarily anxious when the bus is crowded...), although it did make the headache I woke up with worse.

In any case, last week was infinitely better than the previous one.

I'm struggling to remember WHY the week was so awful but in fairness, March is always terrible because there are so many birthdays, I'm still recovering from being skint for the entire of February, and the weather is still not quite nice enough to state it's no longer winter.

On the Tuesday I was at Margaret Street for a meeting in the morning. I was also due to be there on Wednesday for another one in the afternoon, however when I checked the Chair's diary on Tuesday morning it appeared to have been moved to Tuesday afternoon instead, and subsequently to another Chair's diary. As I was already at the venue I volunteered to cover it anyway, so I had a rushed lunch before immediately heading into another meeting and barely any headspace to recover from the morning one.

Anyway, both the Chair and myself had got set up in the room when - of course - it transpired to be on Wednesday after all. This was despite my calling the central team upstairs to double-check and confirm that it had in fact been moved to Tuesday. It's just an example of the kind of chaos we have to deal with on a daily basis since the CP convening moved to the central team in August. It's hardly any wonder we're all stressed and Chairs are leaving with regular monotony.

The crap Assistant Head is actually going soon as well, though the rumour is whoever they've earmarked to replace her will be just as bad, if not worse. Ideally it needs one of our Chairs to go for the job, but that would be of no benefit to them (it's not a pay increase, and for the agency Chairs it would even be a pay cut) and probably not worth the hassle. Which is a shame, because I can think of a few of them who would be perfect for the job. I very much suspect they don't want someone to come in and fix things, though - the Head of Safeguarding just wants someone else she can mould rather than someone who will stand up to her.

Anyway, I digress. On Tuesday I had a burgeoning migraine which turned full-on shortly before I left for choir. Thankfully ibuprofen sorted it out, but I was in a rotten mood all day and definitely was not in the mood for rehearsal. Then I met Paul and Rob at the pub, where Paul had been helping him go through his CV, got annoyed with Paul for being tipsy and we ordered yet more bloody junk food because we've been too tired to cook properly for weeks.

Wednesday was okay: mostly non-descript. Then on Thursday, obviously it was in the news that Terry Pratchett had died. I never actually finished reading the Discworld novels - my mum was a fan though I think she's a few books behind now - but I've always thought Pterry came across as a very nice man. Obviously there were several tributes on Facebook and the like. His death also came quite soon after Leonard Nimoy; thus far 2015 has been a terrible year for scifi/fantasy fans.

By Friday I was bone tired and on the edge of my emotions as a result. Late on Friday afternoon I also found out that one of my old school teachers had died after a protracted illness - a school friend posted a link to a tribute from the school website. The teacher in question - Miss J - had been Head of Key Stage 4 (Year 10/11) whilst I was there, and the very epitome of Terrifying PE Teacher. She was the bane of my life - indeed, all of our lives - for the duration of GCSE's, not least because after I received the dreaded Three Yellow Slips (for non-completion of homework) and triggered the equally-dreaded Telephone Call Home about it (six triggered a meeting; as did nine; when I received my tenth I was supposed to have another call home but I think my class teacher saw the look of sheer terror on my face and "forgot" to tell Miss J about it) I was always under her scrutiny.

I remember one parents' evening where I tried to steer my mother away from her and she actually chased after us with the words, "Ah, we meet at last!" My mum was on her wavelength when it came to scaring me into compliance, which of course only made it worse. :P

By the time I reached Sixth Form and she was no longer my Head of Year, of course, I felt like Sarah in Labyrinth. "You have no power over me!" She was still the Scary PE Teacher but I was better able to appreciate her sarcasm when it wasn't being used as a scare tactic.

Anyway, as a result of this (and some other issues which I posted about on Twitter and can't be bothered to regurgitate here...) I spent most of Saturday with a horrendous migraine, which I imagine was also not helped by the fact that I was so sleep-deprived. Nonetheless, I managed to drag myself out of bed so we could go into town and get food for Sunday and Mothers' Day cards/gifts. We were supposed to go Lloyd's birthday drinks at the Jekyll & Hyde but obviously the migraine put paid to that.

On Sunday the migraine had cleared, thankfully, but then midway through the morning I received a call from David saying they wouldn't be able to make it for Mothers' Day food because Rum (their cat) had been hit by a car and sadly died. (A kind stranger found him and took him to the PDSA so they don't know where it happened.)

After the week I'd had this was the trigger that sent me over the edge; we ended up putting off Paul's mum as well because by that point I wasn't in the mood to be sociable either. I spent most of the morning crying about it - not just because Rum was gone but because it brought back all the trauma of losing Paws in 2001, and because I'd had a shit week and was generally stressed. It was somewhat cathartic, at least…

Some of the stress had also come about because we’re trying to get away for a long weekend in April as it’s our tenth anniversary, but everything is conspiring against us as usual by being too bloody expensive. Hotels and flights or whatever are doable, but it’s the bloody public transport costs ramping everything up. Hopefully we can manage to get a late deal of some description.

We also had a vague plan of having a proper holiday in September, but the last time we went away in April and September (in 2012 when we went to Tenby and Corfu respectively) it essentially bankrupted us. (It also didn’t help that we booked up to see the Killers in the November, which ate the final few dregs of the tax rebate I got.) Seeing as I am now waiting on my non-urgent hospital admission for a procedure under general anaesthetic, though, I don’t want to book anything for September in case it delays things. And also because I’ve been too ill / tired to make it to the gym since last May (meh) so don’t particularly want to go away in any case…

Anyway, March is nearly over (just three more birthdays to go!) and this weekend I actually managed to get a few hours to myself to put a dent in my EastEnders backlog and do some embroidery now that it’s warmed up enough to do so. Once I get through this week there are two four-day weeks courtesy of the Easter bank holidays, and then I have a week off, THANK GOODNESS.

Also, after finishing the POTOver story for Eni just in time for her birthday, I was working on the epilogue until the end of February, but lacked energy to carry on once the impetus to finish the main story had burned out – I will actually try and finish that soon both for her benefit and that of [personal profile] cloudsinvenice (who is beta’ing it for me), as whilst the story ended itself in a most satisfactory manner, there are a few parts that need proper closure.

I have a couple of embroidery updates to post as well (once I’ve figured out where I got to) so I’ll do those later. I reckon within 4-5 sessions it should be finished, and then I can start on my next one. :)

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