But it's not just my productivity at work that suffers: the flat I live in, not to put to fine a point on it, has turned into a pigsty. Although I have never been particularly houseproud, even I now do balk at the state of the kitchen floor and cabinets. I can't scrub, I can't mop; I can just about hoover but that doesn't get rid of all of the dirt, and it's getting to that point where I'd be embarrassed to let people in. It also makes me dread the day when I will be able to clean things properly again, as it's going to take me hours.
Anyway, best not worry about that now. The sun is shining, it's a beautiful day, and I've decided to go on a diet again. It wasn't until I found I couldn't fit into my favourite pair of jeans without lying down first, and after getting up saw the love handles spilling over the waistband the other day, that it dawned on me that despite my best intentions, and probably in part because of the long and severe winter we've had this year combined with my fatal weakness: chocolate, I haven't managed to hang onto my recently acquired svelte form. Three years after losing 20 kilos, I've put 10 back on. So, from this day forward until well into the summer, I reckon I'm going to live on water and salads, which provided the weather stays nice and sunny, shouldn't be too much of a hardship. Though I will miss the chocolate.
As you know, my German classes have not been a success. Therefore, it was with some trepedation that I volunteered for a refresher course in Dutch organised by our new manager. He had noticed what our previous Polish manager had not: that most of my colleagues couldn't write a proper business letter if their lives depended on it. Since I've joined the department, I've taken it upon myself to write and revise most of the letters, but I went to school in the 60s, 70s and 80s; and there's been an official change in the spelling regulations a few years ago. As a result, I've not been too sure whether my spelling was still correct. I needn't have worried: I won first prize in the final test (and got a book on language, of course). I have been told though that my style of writing is too formal and I should try and 'hip it up' a little...but I work for a bank and have to remind people they are under a legal obligation to pay back their loans; the message is going to be unpleasant to the recipient however contemporary or street the words I choose to use are.
And I think I saw the cloud of Icelandic volcanic ash drift over Amsterdam on Friday. It was the biggest, darkest and densest cloud I've ever seen and it hung in the sky for hours, giving the lie to the forecast that it would be a sunny spring day...but my colleague told me I must be wrong.