WELL here I am on the new shiny hub in the new building, imaginatively called 6, Park Street, after a poll of employees obviously climbed over themselves to come up with a name for the Meeja Wales HQ.
First impressions are great, with the air conditioning a major bonus after the sweatshop next door at Thompson Towers. Not sure about the new phone system, though. Have already lost 10 "customers" trying to transfer them to different departments. The sounds eminating from my desk have been something like this:
"Hello, Meeja Wales. Echo Newsdesk? I'll try to put you through," followed by, "bugger, what does that light mean?" followed by "bugger, lost them." I imagine our loyal readers must be getting pretty p***ed off, let alone the PR girls called Jemima and Jezebella who make up 90 per cent of the calls, inquiring whether you have received a press release that hasn't a hope in hell of going into the paper and has already been sent to every other department in the building.
Still, I am sure we will master it.
And the new swipe card to get through the football-style turnstyle is fantastic. You just leave it in your wallet, then waive said wallet in the approximate vicinity of the little grey thingy on the side and... hey presto, the light turns green and you are granted admission. Wooh, little things please little minds, I know.
It's going to be a largely paperless office apparently, though I managed to sneak two metal trays containing half a rain forest past the anal police (well, Fazza anyway).
AP Fazza is looking pretty pleased with himself, as well he should. I haven't the heart to tell him that the giant screen everyone was raving about is miles away from the hub and you need one of those gimmicky plastic things containing mirrors to see it from where I sit. I used to have one when my dad took me on the football terraces as a wee six year old so that I could see over the crowds.
At least I can look straight at the big spelling mistake on the glass wall opposite me, designed to "inspire" us in our work. Someone even had the guts to tell AP Fazza that the quote from Gandhi was fine, it was just the fact that Gandhi was spelt wrong!
Anyway it has all been such a shock to the system I feel a resurrection of Boozeday Tuesday coming on.
I was bringing out WoS in the absence of the editor this weekend, so I decided to have an early night on Friday - and failed miserably. We ended up in the City Arms, all the usual suspects - Smashy, Withers, the Prince and yours truly.
And there was a magnificent surprise in store... my personal DJ Jase has managed to finally get hold of more than the two tracks by XTC that he previously owned. I was so excited when I heard the first bars of Sergeant Rock that I wrapped my tie around my head, forgetting completely that I was still wearing my baseball cap.
Next day, and I had a pretty bad hangover. But once I was in work, and fortified by a lunchtime trip to the House of Lard for Chicken Curry arf and arf, it all passed off ok (well, apart from the fact that the press knew nothing about the eight-page Jehovahs Witnesses supplement we were supposed to be doing, so we had to rip up half the paper and start again!)
After that it was essential to have a drink so I rang Wren at the flat and she kindly agreed to accompany me to the City Arms where we were meeting the Prince and Withers, who had been out and about since 3pm, together with Paps, who had been news editing the WoS and desperately needed a drink.
It has to be said the Wonderful One was not in good shape (in fact, you could say he looked in exactly the same shape he was when he lost his front teeth). Taking on the appearance of a Zombie, he staggered off down the road in the direction of home.
Not so, the Prince. After making some clandestine phone calls to his hareem he continued until well into the night... as the Prince is want to do, living up to his nickname in true style.
Next morning and I was once again feeling a bit ropey, but I could tell Wren was itching to go out for some fresh air. I walked to the paper shop and on the way back my heart skipped a beat. Where was the car? Had some local ragamuffin half-inched it again?
It took me about a minute to register the fact in my fuzzy brain that I had actually left the car at the office in order to go out on the pop.
So Wren and I walked into town to collect it. I decreed that on no account were we to go shopping with pay day still two days away. But I was obviously speaking Swahili because 10 minutes later she was trying on shoes in the sale at Clarks, emerging with two "bargains".
Once we collected the car it was off to Penarth to enjoy the sunshine, though my heart was still at Lord's and England's attempt to beat the South Africans in the first Test. I put on a brave face, though, and when we couldn't get a parking spot on Penarth sea front we ended up going to Barry Island.
Now the Island gets a bad press - though far better now Gavin and Stacey have hit the screens - yet I must say the beach was lovely, the ice cream splendid and the views enjoyable. Even the sounds of the toons emerging from the amusement arcades were oldie worldy sea-front fun.
We spent an hour there before popping home for tea. An enjoyable day.
The other night Wren and I enjoyed a meal from her No Fat Cookbook: Country Pork with Parsley cobbler. Couldn't be bothered to make the pastry, though, so picked up some ready made from Morrisons.
1lb boneless pork shoulder, diced.
Diced butternut squash (the recipe called for a small swede but I didn't have one)
2 sliced carrots
2 sliced leeks
2 sliced celery sticks
1 1/2 pints of beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and black pepper
Topping: Rolled out ready-made pastry
WHAT I DID:
Pre-heat oven to 180C/gas mark 4
Fry pork in a little butter in non-stick pan until lightly browned
Add veggies to pan, stir over medium heat until veg starts to soften
Stir in stock, tomato puree, parsley and pearl barley.
Transfer to large casserole dish and place in oven for an hour to an hour and a half
Then remove and put up temperature to 220C/gas mark 7.
Cut pastry into triangles and place over the top of the pork and veg mixture.
Return to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve. A bit of Dijon mustard is nice with this.