Wednesday, 25 April 2007

It's World Penguin Day today

Um right. That was my nickname at school. The Penguin. I waddled when I ran. I was given this nickname by my PE teacher. Right. Very encouraging.

Boris Yeltsin is being buried today. Nice of him to save the embalmer a job by pickling himself before he died. Very thoughtful.

Friday, 20 April 2007

So that's where I went wrong

I got the letter from the Coventry bunch. The letter gave me a number to call and I rang yesterday lunchtime. The lady was too busy to come to the 'phone (what with them being understaffed and all), could she ring me back first thing tomorrow? Okay.

She 'phoned. The job finally went to someone already working within the industry. But it wasn't a foregone conclusion. Everyone had had a fair crack of the whip, but no one else had the depth or breadth of knowledge that the successful candidate had. What a surprise.

She went through the specific questions and my answers and gave me an overall impression. Some answers were exceptional (cash handling (Woolworths, Co-op, Peter Jones, Tesco and receivership), can I do tedious and repetitive work (I worked for the Big E), disability and equal opportunities (first hand knowledge)), most, however, were middling.

I had a weird tendency to babble on. Instead of just answering the question, I seemed almost compelled to keep going and go into too much detail. Pausing to let the question sink in is okay. I don't have to treat the end of each question as if I'd just heard a starting pistol and needed to get away as quickly as I could. Thinking about the answers before opening my mouth was a good thing.

But what was "very apparent" was my lack of contact with the general public. Well, yes. Cloistered away for 9 years, I did have very little contact with any normal members of the public. That was the kiss of death as far as the Coventry bunch were concerned.

I appeared confident (wow, appearances can be deceptive) and my attitude and dress was entirely appropriate for someone applying for a job at that level. She wished me luck.

I need it.

Having spent more than 20 minutes away from my work station, I tried to make up for it by working as hard as I could. However, the computers weren't in any hurry. I got some solemn looks from the supervisor.

However, I'm hired for next week and I can have Tuesday off to go to the dentist. I should have thought ahead and got a doctor's appointment for the same day.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007


I'm back at the West Bromwich warehouse doing data entry again. They are having real trouble with their computers. The system is so slow any attempt at getting a decent recorded output is just shot to pieces.

I'm now registered with Reed, CareerProspects, Pertemps, Extra and Brook Street. There is not much out there at the minute.

I've paid the bills for April and I've got enough money to see me through May and June. That's if I don't find any temp work in the meantime. Temp working means I could see out July and get to the end of August. I really need to find a job before the end of July.

I've got no applications in the pipelines and I'm not waiting to hear back from anybody - I really need to get my finger out and start looking and applying for jobs again.

Monday, 16 April 2007

I don't like Mondays

I rang the bunch in Coventry. There were three Gingers listed in their system. One in Coventry and two in Wolverhampton. I gave the girl my details and asked where the letters to me have been sent. She said she'd call me back later.

Scarily, it took her over an hour to get back to me and tell me that my details have been entered twice. Once correctly (house number 82) and once incorrectly (house number 32). Guess where the letters have been sent?

She told me that, unfortunately, I hadn't been selected for the position and that a letter would be sent to me soon. She had updated the system and there was now only one address for me.

Great. Like you'll really need it now, won't you?

I spent the day pottering. I've done a load of washing after the trip down to London for Easter, done a bit of shopping and dyed my eyebrows and eyelashes. The lashes look good (jet black), but the eyebrows have come out overcooked and dark brown again. I really really need to be more careful rinsing the dye out.

I'm hirsute. Not quite the Wolf Woman of Wolverhampton but getting quite close. The hair on my face is very thick aroung my mouth and chin and I have to shave. I'm allergic to thioglycolate hair remover (Veet, Nair and shops own brands) and wax is not only painful, it needs repeat applications (my thick hair is so deeply rooted) thereby shredding my eczemous skin and I'm allergic to the wax formulations as well.

My hair is very fast growing. I didn't appreciate just how fast until I left the Big E. Whilst working at the Big E, I was stressed. So stressed that my hair growth was affected. As I didn't have any bald patches, I didn't realise just how badly the stress affected me. I was shaving once every other day, going to the hairdresser every other month and the 30 day eyelash dye just about 'did' for 30 days.

Now I've left the Big E, my hair is growing 'normally'. This sounds like a good thing. However, a trip to the hairdressers every month is getting expensive and the 30 day eyelash dye lasts about a fortnight before the roots become obvious and need to be redone.

I'm shaving every evening and morning and the ingrown hairs are starting to really piss me off. I'm plucking odd hairs from my eyebrows every night just to stay on top of things and can spend up to half an hour every other week trying to pluck the fine long eyelashes out of the corners of my eyes so that I'm not constantly rubbing my eyes.

That's right. You read that correctly. I pluck my eyelashes. Great. Oh, to be normal.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Unlucky for some

I've tried sorting out Dad's paperwork, done some filing, washed out the vacuum cleaner and used it to clean up as best I could, bought a new mop and bucket, toilet rolls, disinfectant, detergent, I've sewed buttons back on, sewed hems up on trouser legs, found three pairs of long johns that Dad didn't know he had, tidied up and seen the Cute Nephew and Cute Niece.

Cute Nephew is so reliant on his glasses that he goes to bed with them on and puts them on his bedside table last thing. Middle brother and his wife the Neurotic Sister-In-law don't know what to do about Dad either. He's too proud, too stubborn and too graceless to have too much done for him.

Neurotic Sister-In-Law can't get over how few wrinkles I have compared to her. Middle Brother pointed out I don't drink or smoke. I preened. And, he continued, being so fat fills out a lot of the wrinkles. Hmmmn.

It is true though. All that advice about no alcohol, no smoking, plenty of rest and plenty of water really does work. That and the depression acts likes Nature's Botox. No laughter lines.

Middle Brother proudly showed me his latest work contract. A broken down ice-cream van that has been re-jigged to advertise something on the Disney channel. Urban Vermin anyone? It's been towed off to Cannes for some film and television thingie and will spend a week parked up on the beach front promenade. Just as well, it won't go anywhere.

I received my birthday presents from my brothers (£50 cheque and some vanilla smellies from the Body Shop). Thanks fellas you're only, what, three months late.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner

I haven't been able to check my snail mail for nearly a week as I'm still in London. And since I'm here for a week instead of the weekend/Bank Holiday that I'm normally down for, I've been able to get a few things done, see a few places I haven't seen for a while and tune into radio stations I haven't heard for a long long while.

Today is traditionally jobs day in the London Evening Standard. There is a big jobs compendium on Mondays but as it was a bank holiday this week it didn't come out. Since I left London there have been some changes. There are now three free papers being given out at tube stations. TheLondonPaper, London Lite and the Metro. Some Londoners are impressed, others are not.

The stuff I've missed out on down here. The tube, the variety, the street life - it's great. I miss this place. A walk down Oxford Street, Berwick Street Market, Notting Hill, Soho, the Museums - look what I've been missing. Juice and smoothie bars, a variety of different shops, half decent buses that have "in" and "out" doors. Tube trains that get me everywhere.

Proper fashion. The variety in the way people dress is fantastic. Although, there are an awful lot of black patterned tights and denim mini shorts going on. Topped off with smocks and big sunglasses. Instead of the Chav vs Goth thing going on up here. I didn't see one shiny nylon tracksuit.

I could move back here. Or so I thought.

From Monday to today I have spent more than £15 on travel. Even with my pay as you go Oyster card and the resulting half price £1 a pop bus journeys that's a lot.

And the people. They're everywhere. Try standing your ground outside H&M at Oxford Circus between around 4pm and 6pm. Then try to get a bus home in the rush hour. I stood all the way from Oxford Circus to Shepherd's Bush. The 94 was packed.

And the tourists. The French bunch who were trying to navigate around London using just a tube map. Buckingham Palace = Victoria (ish). The Yanks who couldn't believe that you had to move from the Central line platforms to the Victoria line platform to get the right train at Oxford Circus (and who got in the way of the stairs arguing the toss with me and each other) and the Italian bunch who blocked the platform at Bond Street standing around their rucksacks as they pored over a map.

I've never understood that at all. In all my years of commuting that has got to be just about the most annoying thing I've routinely seen. Just what is the point of looking at a street map when you're Underground and can't see any streets? What the fuck are you doing? Get out of the bloody way you morons - ARRGGHH!!

It took one day of travelling around London to get back into the London commuter mindset. I think my blood pressure has just got back to normal now.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Getting things done

Dad had an MRI brain scan at Charing Cross Hospital. He is very unsteady on his feet. He's complaining about his balance, the pains in his legs (might be muscular, could be circulation he doesn't know), his back, his eyes and so on. It still hasn't occurred to him that complaining to people around him doesn't help.

If he made an appointment with his GP and came out with this, then he might have a fighting chance of getting something sorted but, no. He complains selectively and he doesn't have time for a GP appointment even though I went to the trouble of getting him registered with a new GP the last time I went down.

After the brain scan, we went to the Nationwide to open a new current account for Dad. That was not fun. He's an embarrassing racist, has no patience and thought filling in the form with all his details would do it all. Nope.

The girl was a "Customer Services Advisor" who was helplessly reliant on her computer. She was also black. Very black. Dad did his best to be polite. Honest. He got annoyed and got up and nearly walked away twice. It didn't help when, seeing his name in block capitals on the form, in an attempt to be friendly, she "thought we might be Irish" and promptly mispronounced our surname. Terrific. Great start.

Nowadays, when one opens a current account, it's an opportunity to sell. Insurance, credit cards, overdrafts, savings. There's a lot of legal blurb about terms and conditions, the data protection act, PINs and so on. Martha could only go through the computerised form and ignore the filled in form.

She helplessly parrotted back what the computer told her to ask Dad. Internet access? Overdraft? Data Protection? Credit card? Earnings? I answered all the questions for him. All Dad wants is an account with a chequebook.

After Mum bankrupted his business, he doesn't own one of those "cards". He doesn't want to own a card of any kind. He is now committed to an account that will send him not only a chequebook, but also a cheque guarantee/debit card and a PIN for the cash machines. We kept reassuring him that once the account was up and running, he could discard the PIN and just use the branch to get cash in or out of the account.

He needs the card though, as Nationwide don't have Paying In books. He can't see the sense in that. The noisy environment drove him daft. The special security doors that lock you in a vestibule are stupid but, before he retires, he has the beginnings of a personal current account. Finally.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

By the right, funeral march (well, stagger)

The funeral went okay. The weather was good. The mass went well. Ish.

The readers were from the in-law side of the dead cousin's family and they were pretty indistinct even though they had a microphone. The priest, in his sermon, went on a Dead Auntie's humility, goodness and hard work.

Much good it did the poor cow. All that's left of her immediate family is an alcoholic balloon pushing 50 years of age, having never been officially employed in his life. Although there are three grandchildren from Dead Cousin's marriage and one great-grandchild.

The funeral was in Mortlake Cemetery. In London, this isn't too hard to find. However, there were a lot of relatives from Ireland over and more than a few got lost. They tried following the cars in the cortege, but got cut off by a bus at the traffic lights. There were frantic 'phone calls to other drivers or their passengers (including my cousin driving me and Dad) trying to work out where they were, where were we, how do they get to where we were and where's the cemetery. Yep. Satnav's popular, you can tell.

Most got to the cemetery before the interment. After the burial came the obligatory walk through the headstones to see who else is buried there. A lot of Dad's friends are there. He knew such-and-such back in '62. He knew so-and-so when they first moved to the Bush. Ah, happy days.

We yo-yo'ed back to the Bush and at the wake in a pub a few doors down from the church where we had the mass, I met up with what must have been the only people in Shepherd's Bush who hadn't heard of Mum's death.

Even now, nearly 5 years after she died, total strangers come up to me and tell me how sorry they were to hear of Mum's death. Not this bunch. The daughter went to primary school with me, the older brother is best mates with Alky Cousin and the mother regularly sees my Dad on the bus. They'd never heard. Great. We spent the afternoon catching up on old times.

She was wrinkled and old looking even though she was in my class in primary school. I didn't recognise her at all. She twitched and fidgeted as we spoke. She excused herself and went to the toilet twice. Her hands shook as she poured her drink - bottled cider over ice. Hmmn.

There was a collection of cousins. One with the same name as me. Her nephew(?) or our second cousin(?) was toddling around looking very cute. He was very very small for his age (nearly two). He had a massive, almost dwarf-ish, forehead and it regularly got bumped. There were bruises all over his head as he fell about and got knocked over in the crowd of drinkers who didn't see him running around their legs. He didn't seem to mind.

He didn't like me. He kept a determined set to his face as he waddled off to the electric sockets, the main swing doors out to the pavement and the hole in the bar that led to the staff area behind.

People regularly picked him up and carried him over to Mum. Nope. He wasn't having any of it. His face fell as I picked him up away from the socket. As I handed him over, he pushed away with a "she skinned my puppy " look on his face.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

I'm back!

The journey down was horrible. There was a small baby travelling with us who cried almost non-stop for about 3 hours. It was like sharing the bus with a referee's whistle.

Once I got to the Bush, I went to the Post Office to photocopy the accounts for my Uncle before I posted them off. The Post Office didn't have a photocopier. They directed me to the library (closed it was Easter Saturday) or the Snappy Snaps photo shop (nope photos only).

I then had to trawl around the Bush Green looking in all the Internet cafes until I found one with a photocopier. I then had to troll back to the Post Office on the other side of the Green to post the package.

The weather was warm and sunny and I was sweating when I arrived at home. It stank.

It was a filthy and as squalid as I thought it would be. The upstairs bathroom hasn't been used and the dust needed to be washed away. The upstairs toilet is a biohazard area what with commodes and colostomy bags and a doddering old blind woman. There are hairy beetle larvae crawling through the carpet and a liberal coat of cat and little old lady hair covering everything.

The downstairs where Dad "lives" was smelly and miserable. The constant fry ups and no ventilation have taken their toll and the dust is glued to surfaces all over the place.

The vacuum cleaner is a Numatic Henry. It was meant for industrial use and it should be good but it was choked with hair. There was no one blockage just and accumulation of cat hair and filth. I had to wash out the hose, pipes and filter. I replaced the bag and left the filter and hose out on the washing line to dry.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

I'm busy even though I'm not working

I've 'done' my uncle's accounts for this year. I'm only 5p out! 5p!!

That's almost accurate.

I've been £50 out before now and the accounts have been still accepted by the Public Guardianship Office. I suspect it's because the discrepancies have all been in his favour. If I submitted an account log that was £50 out the other way I suspect that I'd hear bad things from the PGO.

I've got to get to the library, have interviews with two more agencies (Extra and Pertemps) and get the accounts photocopied and posted. All by close of business tomorrow.

The day after is Good Friday when half the city is shut. No Post Office, no copy shops, no prospect of getting extra work, nuttin.

I really don't expect to get everything done though.

Monday, 2 April 2007

No news is bad news

The interview went okay. I think. I don't think I got the job though.

I've been to enough interviews to guess how things are going. I know I've failed when it comes to a point where the interviewers seem to stop taking an interest. Nothing is said but the atmosphere changes. They "withdraw" and stop prompting me on the answers. It's not said, but they've decided that I'm not what they're after.

That happened on Friday. They were very polite, they answered my questions but I could see that they were already composing the rejection letter. They said I'd hear from them by 'phone before lunchtime the following Monday. This is the following Monday and I've heard nothing.

One thing that bugs me about them is where have they been sending the letters to? I only learned about the interview from a 'phone call. I'm going to have to call up and find out.

I am blowing the interviews. I suspect that the depression could be doing that. At best, I must appear subdued. At worst, bored or uninterested. Combine that with the "Commander Data in drag" appearance caused by the foundation I was using (L'Oreal 16 hour and completely the wrong colour) and I must have appeared unhinged.

I spotted the make up blunder when I went into the toilets in Wolverhampton Beatties. I did a double take. It was dreadful. It sets without powder which I thought was great as powder tends to find every pore and wrinkle. The "dewy" look was perfect.

However, as someone with what is politely referred to as a combination skin type, the foundation needed two layers. The bone dry skin on my cheeks shooped up the moisture like fresh plaster does to paint. Thus the first layer ended up looking chalky, matte and old. The make up just sat without being absorbed at all on the greasy T zone.

A second layer to the cheeks matched up the two areas. I was then left with a thick, nearly opaque, foundation layer in slightly too pale a colour.

I honestly thought that wasn't possible. I'm as pale as white gets without going albino. Usually, I end up getting a foundation colour from the far left hand of any make-up shelf. It usually has a name along the lines of Porcelain, Ivory or Pale Beige. This one was called Porcelain.

By the time I get to the middle of the range (Honey Beige, Bronze Beige or Biscuit) there is a strong contrast between skin and make-up. And I don't look at the Toasted Cocoa, Mocha and Bronze Coffee end of the shelf at all.

I wanted to appear "professional and business-like" so, for the interview in Coventry, I wore funereal clothes and applied full slap. Indoors. Away from any natural light. The cream blusher, lipstick and eye shadow all took ages as well, and, under the dim, glow of an energy saving light bulb, I thought I looked as fabulous as a short, fat, Irish redhead in early middle age could get.

Wrong. So wrong in fact that I'm going into Boots this week and taking up the Max Factor offer of a foundation check. I'm not working this week so what the Hell? It can't get worse.