Friday, 31 August 2007

Oh dear! What can the matter be?

My first errand of the day was picking up an undeliverable package from the sorting office in White City.

The sorting office is in a place called Silver Road and is open from 7:30am.

I walked down to the Bush and turned right down Wood Lane.

There is a huge building project going on there. A gigantic piece of land mainly consisting of old London Underground land was bought up by developers and is being turned into a destination site.


A mutant cross between the Bullring and the Mailbox and Merry Hill, this huge site takes up one side of Wood Lane and stretches up as far as the A40. It's not going to be just a shopping centre, it's going to be a high class shopping experience with a hotel, spa, cinema, fitness centre and all sorts of other goodies.

I just wanted to know what couldn't fit through Dad's letterbox.

The BBC Television Centre is also down Wood Lane. I had to walk down the BBC side of the road because of the building works. Then down Arial Way. Arial being the name of the BBC's in-house news letter. Past Relay Road (geddit?) down Silver Road and down to the very end to the Sorting Office.

The package was clearly a large A4 lever arch file, wrapped in brown paper and neatly addressed to Mr B. Ginger.

I have recently started using a new satchel type bag and the file was just slightly too big for the velcro to stick the flap down. So I went back the way I came with the flap down but unfastened, and ended up pushing against a tide of builders who were on their way to start work on the massive site which took up one side of Arial Way.

This being London, they had commuted there by tube to White City.

I went to the Bush and bought papers and milk and took the parcel home to Dad.

He wasn't happy when he opened it.

His latest building project is being supervised by professionals. A proper architect is involved. The file, complete with 10 separated sub sections was a Health & Safety review of the site and the proposed works with recommendations and reminders of current law.

He'll have to read it.

The funeral went smoothly enough. Dead Aunt chose the hymns and readings before she died and there was a good turn out.

Kid Brother drove us there and on to the cemetery out past Chiswick.

On the way there, my mobile rang. It was the Dudley branch of Adecco. My details, although entered in Wolverhampton, are searchable by everyone and they were ringing up because my details matched with a job that had come up.

Could I start in Dudley today?

Um. No.

Was I sure?

Yes, I was on my way to a burial after the death of an aunt.

Oh. Well, if I was sure?

Um. Yes. Thank you for ringing.

The burial went smoothly enough and the vast majority of us went back to a nearby pub for a reception.

Not us though.

Dad didn't want to go and his sister wanted to get back home as well. Kid Brother would have had to have dropped Auntie in Greenford, drop Dad off at the house in Shepherd's Bush and then gone back for the reception. Neither of us could drink so it was going to be just a quick and polite hour standing in a corner before going back home.

So KB dropped me and Dad off at the house before delivering Dad's surviving sister back to Greenford before going on to his own home in Uxbridge.

On the way back, Sarah called. The interview is definitely "on" for 11am Monday 10th. When was I going to read the information. I was in the back of a car. I didn't know.

How about I popped in on Monday morning?

That was far too late to prepare. I needed to take a few hours at least to prepare.

To shut her up, I told her to e-mail me the details and I could read them over the weekend.

Okay, she said, I can do that.

We thanked each other and rang off.

After KB dropped us off, I went into errand mode.

I changed, went to the JobCentrePlus and got the information needed for Dad's pension claim.

I did a bit of shopping for Dad - air fresheners, veg and a few other bits and pieces, logged on to the interweb at a local internet cafe - Sarah wasn't exactly straining herself getting the interview information e-mailed to me and I found a beautiful pair of shiny Next jeans in a local charity shop for £3.

They could pass for a smart pair of trousers, they have a silver thread shot through the denim. They just need about 8 inches cut off the bottom.

I transferred £405 from the Nationwide where I'd deposited Dad's cheque to the HSBC where the mortgage and personal loan get paid from and went home again.

I wrote a letter to the NI bunch asking for Mum's NI number, as her NI payments could increase Dad's pension by a few pennies a year and went off to post it as well as Dad's request for a large print pension form as he didn't want to spend a long time on an 0845 'phone number only for the completed form to be sent to him anyway for him to correct and sign.

We sat chatting and watching telly and finally went to bed very late.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Not a hope

I went to the hairdressers. And guiltily spent some of Dad's money on a decent haircut.

Then I went to the interview. Well I tried.

The 126 bus stops just outside, Gaynor had said. I couldn't miss the British Gas building if I got off at the TraveLodge stop after Dudley.

After over an hour on the bus, I was not only late for the interview, I had severe doubts about whether this job was do-able at all. They wanted shift workers who could finish at 11pm. There was no way that was going to happen with this bus service.

I got off at the right stop and failed to identify the building that I "couldn't miss".

I found it.

The British Gas building I couldn't miss was clearly labelled

AA
Join here
I went to Reception and asked for Gaynor.

I apologised and said I was sorry, but I couldn't go for the interview. The journey out by public transport was just prohibitive.

Gaynor came down and escorted me up to the interview suite and we looked at the shift rota and the bus timetable and I declined again.

She thanked me for coming and I rushed off to the bus stop to get home for the journey down to the funeral.

I only just made it.

Once I got to London, Dad had a few errands for me to run. Of course.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

False alarm

Nope.

I'm not starting work next week. The references are very slow in coming forward and there's a medical to go to.

I had to be truthful on the medical questionnaire. On paper, I look like a crippled basket case who shouldn't be able to walk. In practice, I'm a quiet, neurotic, anxious type who limps occasionally.

However, the doctor wants to see me so that means the start date has been put off until the 10th September 2007.

Great.

That means I can fit in that job interview for the marketing position. I went to tell Sarah who told me the interview is for 11am next Monday.

Can do.

Another possible job

I've applied on-line for a position in Darlaston.

I've been invited by Sarah to visit the employment agency in the Mander Centre.

I'm soooo looking forward to it.

For some months now, this place has been displaying a TO LET sign as they are shutting up shop to relocate to Dudley.

Sarah and I got on well. She asked me all the usual questions and was quite up front about not knowing a single thing about science.

It showed.

However, the position is for a science marketing position. A scientific supplies company are looking for someone to put together catalogues for schools and universities and they are interested in me.

It's £16,000 pa which is £2000 more than the job I've been offered, so I said I was interested and now all that needs to be done is sort out an interview and a time.

In between another interview with British Gas, a funeral and a weekend. I'm supposed to start work next week (Monday 3rd September). This should be good.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Dad's been and gone

It's okay. I'm calm now.

Dad was supposed to show up late on Friday evening. He showed up late on Friday night because MwK ordered the National Express ticket on-line.

MwK ordered a ticket which left Golders Green at around 2pm, 2:15pm or 2:45pm, something like that.

Dad would have preferred a later depature time and wasn't ready when MwK came to pick him up to take him to Golders Green.

The traffic to Golders Green is always bad. Dad prefers Golders Green instead of the central Victoria Coach Station, because the 260 bus takes him straight there from the top of a nearby street. The fact it takes the better part of two hours to get there doesn't seem to bother him.

So. With a bagload of tools, Dad starts off late from the house. Then MwK couldn't get out of the traffic jam. He tried different ways but, naturally, he didn't and it's all his fault because he didn't stick to the route Dad was recommending.

So they were late to Golders Green and Dad missed the bus. Dad re-booked his ticket and MwK left him there after calling me to warn me that Dad was late and on the warpath.

Dad arrived just as I was starting to walk down the road to find him. He was late. And on the warpath. MwK was getting cursed left, right and centre.

After that initial disaster, things went okay-ish.

Dad had sold his shares and had brought up a blank cheque for me. He told me how much to write the cheque out for and shakily signed it.

Weighed down with guilt, I put the cheque in the bank the following morning, while Dad set about digging up the old floorboards in the front room.

By the end of Saturday, he'd dug up half the floor and replaced it with the solid oak floorboards that have been stacked in a corner of my back room since, what, 2005.

By the end of Sunday, the floor had been almost completely re-laid, a gas pipe had been laid from the main to the fire (in case someone wanted a real gas fire at some stage) and the old floorboards had been taken out, scraped and cleaned and prepared for preservative so that Dad could finish the back garden fence.

Yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday, Dad started on the fence.

In a house in the next street, one family reign supreme. The kids are jumping out of the bedroom window, throwing things into the next door gardens, regularly burning large amounts of rubbish and generally making a regular nuisance of themselves.

They have recently surpassed themselves. The window the kids jump out of, has fallen off its brackets. It's a lever hinge, up and over affair and it's now out of kilter with the frame. Broken, it hangs at an angle and can't be closed.

So the handyman of the family decided it needed to be fixed. He helped himself to a new window from next door. Leaving a large hole in the frame and leaving the house open to the elements and birds. And attempted to fix the "new" window to the hinge with a hammer and 6 inch nails. He sent his mother through a hole in the fence to ask us if we had eight.

Um. No. We only had 3 inch nails. We gave her eight of those instead.

Dad finished the fence and it looks good. He got to the bus station on time and rang me when he got back.

I tidied up and went to bed and cried.

I'm 40 years old next birthday and I'm relying on handouts from my Dad to keep the roof over my head.

I don't fell like a success.

Friday, 24 August 2007

I still can't see why I didn't get an interview

Check this and tell me why I didn't get an interview



Assessment Centre Feedback


For Candidate B.Ginger


Date 23 August 2007


The results of the tests are given below, and you will see two figures:


1. Accuracy: This is the percentage of the questions you attempted, which you answered correctly.


2. Percentile: This shows how the number of questions, which you answered correctly, compared with the results of a large norm group of people with similar background and experience to you. This is on a scale of 0-100.


A 50 percentile results means that you performed as well as the average in the norm group. Higher or lower figures means that your results were comparable with that percentage of the norm group.


This percentile score takes into account the time you took to answer the questions, so is an indication of both accuracy and speed of working, compared with the norm group. A high accuracy and low percentile, indicates your accuracy was good, but that you were slower at working than the norm group. This may be due to lack of recent practice in that ability area. Speed may not be critical, unless the job requires both speed and accuracy from the outset.


I also enclose a copy of your Candidate Personal Report, which summarises the information, please contact me, and I will be pleased to discuss your results with you further.


ABILITY TEST RESULTS


Checking: 93% accuracy 73 percentile result


Verbal: 78% accuracy 84 percentile result


Numerical 100% accuracy 96 percentile result




Yours sincerely


Assessment Centre Manager




My lowest score is 73 percentile. If that's low, then the eight candidates who did get through must have got close to 100% on every result.



PERSONAL REPORT


Ms B Ginger

22/08/07


Key Points
* This report is based on your self-report of your typical or preferred behaviour
* The responses have been compared with those of a large sales and customer service group
* The points raised should be seen as indicators of potential rather than definitive statements
* The information should be treated confidentially

* The information can give valuable insight into your training and development needs


How to Use this Guide


* Read the points raised and reflect on how true or accurate they may be of you

* Discuss the points with your supervisor or manager


Relationships With People

You appear to avoid influencing others through negotiation and persuasion. This may be due to your being reasonably attuned to others' feelings and placing more emphasis on how they will react than trying to win them round to your point of view.

Your reasonable interest in others suggests that you will let others know what you are feeling only when this is more appropriate or acceptable.
You have a moderate preference for working in teams. In working as part of a team, however, you would probably adopt a quiet and unassuming style.
Whilst you are moderately interested in taking part in team activities, you come across as being more than happy to share credit with others but are likely to be very modest about any personal success.
Thinking Style
You come across as very much enjoying working with information and probing the facts when tackling a problem.
This objective style seems to be complimented by a moderately creative streak, although you are also quite open to others' creative inputs. Not only are you likely to be moderately imaginative but you come across as being generally open to change, whilst also being aware of the benefits of staying with more established methods.
Your moderate degree of flexibility in terms of adapting to change seems to be associated with a balanced view when it comes to taking a structured approach to your work. Thus, depending on what is required of the situation, you may plan to fit the changes into your current work schedule, or decide to tackle each new issue as it arises.
Whilst you tend to be reasonably well planned in your approach to work, you are moderately keen to adhere to deadlines. In line with this, you are likely to work methodically and others can normally rely on you to be fairly accurate as regards checking detail.
Emotions
You seem to be someone who is reasonably calm when things go wrong or the unexpected happens. You also appear to be able to stay positive whilst remaining realistic.
Added to your fairly calm approach, you prefer to work at an easy pace, rather than straining to get the work done.
Your reaction to stress may not always be obvious to others as you tend to show your feelings now and then. Indeed, when telling people how you are feeling, you are likely to balance your need for expression with their sensitivities.
Along with your preference with steady and unrushed work, you are also likely to prefer tasks which are possibly less challenging, and which you can achieve without having to compete with others. In fact, you may feel that your out of work activities are more of a motivator for you than being outstanding at your job.
Your dislike of being competitive and ambitious at work is complemented by your being prepared to work either as a team or on your own. You will also be reasonably sensitive to others, providing they don't command your continuous attention.
I'm unambitious, a good team worker, good with facts and information, I'm not self seeking and will put the team first.
I'm sensitive to the needs and feeling of others, flexible when it comes to unplanned work, change and emergencies and can work within established processes or be open to changes in work and routine.
I don't get it at all.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Great. Terrific.

I got a 'phone call today from Lisa at the head office of the charitable organisation who runs my Uncle's care home.

She had some startling news.

Uncle's care had been PCT funded under "Continuing Care" from 1st July 2003.

The Charity wasn't informed until 24th November 2004 when it received notification and a payment back dated till 1st July 2003.

This meant that Birmingham City Council owes my Uncle all the payments he made from the 1st July 2003 onwards.

As I have received and paid invoices right up until May 2005, that's a lot of money. A lot of money. Over £30,000, in fact.

I tracked back through the files and found the number for Birmingham City Council's billing section and got through to a very polite girl who couldn't find my Uncle's file.

She rang back much later and confirmed it all.

Yes. The care was PCT funded from 1st July 2003.

At first, she couldn't find the invoices that had been sent after that date. I had to prompt her with the invoice number of the last bill I was sent.

Ah. Yes. The invoices were sent out after that date.

Yes. She could confirm payments right up until May/June 2005.

Yes. She'd get on with organising reimbursement.

No fight. No mentioning of lawyers. Just a simple acknowledgement that errors had been made.

Scarily, there was no clue as to how such an error had been made. After all, £30,000 is a lot of money.

But, I look forward to the cheque arriving.

Then I can sort out how to repay the DWP all the Attendance Allowance that's owed.

Monday, 20 August 2007

One step closer

I had a meeting to start filling in the forms required for me to start work.

CRB, referees and an 8 page medical questionnaire.

I thought the meeting went well. I dressed smartly and was polite and joked that the questionnaire resembled "War and Peace".

It fell flat.

I'm going to have a serious think about what I put down on the form.

I hate these things.

If I put everything down in excruciating detail (which, thanks to the OCD, I feel I am compelled to do) then I doubt I'll hear from them again. However, if I'm less than completely honest and then require time off for something I didn't declare, then I could be fired.

Tenosynovitis affecting the major joints, plantar fasciitis affecting left foot, allergy to NSAIDs which has scuppered any treatment for it, asthma, eczema, depression, OCD, allergy to SSRIs and SNRIs which has scuppered that, gastric inflammation caused by the NSAIDs when I could take them, allergy to wasp stings, intolerance to shellfish, severe hayfever (seasonal allergic rhinitis), dust and dust mite allergies (chronic perennial allergic rhinitis), severe adverse drug reactions to benzodiazepines and alcohol (no sedation or cough mixture) and slight problems affecting my eyesight (including colour perception).

Oh yes. I'm a spectacular catch.

The form asked if I had ever worked in particular workplaces (dusty, biohazardous, ionising radiations etc) I had to leave only two boxes unticked.

I expect this will cause me some trouble.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

No good news

I've been turned down for the Nuffield Hospital position. Remember, that's the one where they gave me an application form after the interview (which went really well).

I've also been turned down for the Theatre usher position. Almost by return of post. How much nouse does it take to sell programmes and show old biddies to their seats, for God's sake?

And another aunt has died.

She'd been ill for some time, so her death wasn't unexpected, but her funeral is Friday 31st August - morning.

That means I'll have to leave the British Gas interview, bomb it back to Wolverhampton, grab my case, get on the 16:15 coach to London, trot across London and make it back late so that I can get to the funeral.

And I'll bet Dad has a few things that need doing as well. He always does.

Great. More stress.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Surprise

I thought I'd got this radio news thing sussed.

Today, I gave my best and my worst broadcast.

I also got a 'phone call from Gaynor who wanted to know if she could bring forward the interview as she'd had a cancellation.

She was very impressed when I told her that I couldn't as I was about to read the news.

The worst broadcast was awful.

We're all volunteers in training. The technical guy included. For the last news broadcast before we went to sustain we had to change studios and take over from someone already broadcasting.

Tech guy was fine until he tried to fade out of the news to the studio. He left the IRN feed up. Instead of hearing myself, I could hear an intermittant beeping and adverts for the IRN feeder service. That was what we were broadcasting.

I pulled my headphones off to carry on reading but stuttered and stammered the rest of the 3 minutes even after he faded me up to broadcast. AAAARrrrgh.

So much for calm in a crisis.

Then there was the interview. Which I passed with flying colours and Gaynor and I agreed an face to face interview time for Thursday 30th August. 1:30pm

Then I had to move it down to the JobCentrePlus to sign on. I got there a little late and had to sit and wait to be called. Then I was asked about why I was late, it shouldn't be happening, it doesn't bode well. I really must keep an eye on the time.

I signed and showed the kid my job search booklet which he signed. And I was off home again.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Outward looking

My time is spent in some sort of limbo.

I've been offered a job but I'm unemployed. I must also be seen to be job searching. So even though I've got jobs to look for, I'm going up to the radio station to do my work experience.

It's terrific fun!

I've said that though, haven't I.

I suspect it's not just the fact that I'm meeting new people, or gaining new skills, or gaining confidence but the fact that I am getting out and actually doing something.

It makes a change from the constant job searching, filling in of application forms, printing of cvs and all the self absorption that one must submit to. Can I really do that? Do I really want to do that? Can I say I have "Advanced Excel skills"? "Excellent Office"? Or even "Brilliant Lotus"?

Looking through the job descriptions and personnel specifications (JD&PS) requires a lot of quiet soul searching and concentration.

And of course, there are the computers - where I not only research news stories but also try and keep the spam down in my Gmail Inbox.

I've filled in an application form for the local theatre. They've just finished a massive refurbishment and they're looking for ushers. With the £14,000 from the data entry role and the £19.43 per shift from the theatre, I could be financially very sound.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Um, right.

JobChange (the place that was hiding down Red Lion Street) opens until 8pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. Well, that's the theory.

In practice, dossers and time wasters are sitting at computer screens playing on-line poker, wasting time playing endless games of Solitaire or searching Google for God knows what.

So the JobChange centre often stays open till after 5pm on Mondays and Wednesdays but starts to close between 6 - 6:30pm.

So, I went to JobChange after the radio station to fill in application forms. These are no fun.

Job applications are often performed on-line these days. Either by downloading a form, filling it in and sending it as an attachment to an e-mail or increasingly as a series of web site pages.

If you're (or, more correctly, one is) lucky, the pages can be accessed separately, completed and saved. A form can be filled in with several attempts. If not, then you've probably applied to British Gas.

British Gas has set up the application so that whole sections have to be completed before it lets you stop and save. This might be okay if the candidate is sitting at home, but if one is sitting in a public area and the IT technician is switching the lights off to go home then it's a pain in the neck.

Nice going, guys, even applying for a job is a rubbish experience.

I got home and got a 'phone call. From British Gas.

I've passed the application form stage, would I be interested in a 'phone interview.

Um. Yes.

So, Gaynor and I scheduled a "meeting" for Friday at 15:30.

Wow. That was fast.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Right, let's see

I made a few 'phone calls.

Nicola told me the salary this time. £14,000. I said yes, I am definitely accepting the job.

Then, as soon as I put the 'phone down, I started frantic calculations. £14,000 pa means about £875 per month nett.

With no travel costs (it's within walking distance) it's just do-able, however that means I still won't be able to pay the repayment on my mortgage, I have to stick with interest repayments for now.

I'll stick it for about a year or so before starting to look for another higher paid job. Maybe.

The radio station is terrific fun. I love it.

I've even started reading the news. OOOOOOOhhhh.

The Visitor rang. She got in touch with the Nursing Home office and they told her basic stuff. There's a date in November 2004 when they were told by Birmingham City Council that Uncle was PCT funded under the "Continuing Care" scheme.

November 2004. I was invoiced until May 2005.

There was more. The Nursing Home thinks the payment that they received in November 2004 with the notification was a backdated payment.

Backdated from when?

They couldn't be sure at this point, but it could be as far back as July 2003.

What?

The Nursing Home was in the middle of an audit and the woman at head office was going on holiday soon so they couldn't be sure until she and all the paperwork were back.

Visitor gave me some numbers to call and wished me well. She thought I should claim the money back from Birmingham City Council.

Great. More hassle.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Slow down, I'm having trouble keeping up

I've been in regular contact with a collection of people from different recruitment agencies all this time.

One has managed to get me an interview today. A local charity which helps with drugs rehab. She describes my cv as "bespoke".

That's one way of putting it.

Anyway, I went to the interview. I thought it went okay. Not very well, but okay.

I wore the Dorothy Perkins pinstripe black trousers, the shoes I shortened them in and the long blue jacket that forms the top half of a skirt suit.

I was sweating - it was very warm.

At Reception, I was given a lapel sticker that announced me as a VISITOR to anyone interested.

There was a test. Excel (not bad, I got through that), write a letter (nope, didn't finish that one) and how would I cope with a stroppy visitor (nope, didn't even start that one).

Then the interview (1 versus 3 again) and then out.

I was so flustered and so preoccupied with what else I had to do today that I walked straight past the receptionist, didn't sign out and forgot about the VISITOR label until I was half way up Victoria Street.

Hey, everybody! Guess where I've been?

I got home to find my 'phone already ringing. It was Nicola wanting to know how the interview went.

I told her what happened and how I thought it went and she sounded disappointed for me. She'd keep looking for me. Better luck next time and all that.

Thanks, I said. Listen, I said, I'll have to go as I've still got a lot to do.

Okay. 'Bye

What else did I have to do?

Well.

The laws on Mental Incapacity are changing. The Court of Protection is no longer going to be concerned with how the money is being looked after (although that has gone through a series of complex changes), it is also concerned with the health and welfare of its charges. So a health and welfare body has been set up to go out and take a look at things.

The Lord Chancellor's Visitor for my Uncle's region was to pay me a visit today at the Nursing Home. I wasn't to deny her access to my Uncle and if she wanted to talk to any of the staff, then I was not to try and stop her.

Okay. That doesn't sound like she's not expecting a little hostility.

When I received the letter about a week ago, I called ahead to see what he needed.

A woman with a thick African accent told me he needed toiletries and underwear. And a razor.

I told her that I had bought an electric razor for him not long ago.

She got a colleague to check.

Ah yes, she said. Oh no, he didn't need a razor.

I should think not, I thought.

So I loaded up with toiletries and M&S underwear, marked everything and left it until today.

I changed out of my interview clothes, into jeans and a shirt and loaded up with all the stuff. It was heavy. Very heavy.

I took the train to Birmingham, hauled everything up to Bull Street to catch the bus and ended up nearly half an hour late for the meeting.

Two hours it now takes me to go to this place. During peak hours. On a weekday.

I met the lady just as she was about to leave. She was talking to a nurse about Uncle's care. We then had a long chat ourselves.

He'd been moved to a bigger room closer to the Nursing Station with an en-suite shower room. His clothes had been clumsily stuffed into a small wardrobe, his stereo was without a lead and placed across the room from the electric socket.

I wasn't happy. However, the lady seemed okay with the state he was in and how he was being looked after. I unloaded all the gear I'd brought, put some of it away and left the rest with the Nurse who put it in a storage cupboard.

As I was discussing the state of public transport and how hard it was to visit, my 'phone rang. I said I had to take it, as I was looking for work and no one rang unless it was urgent.

It was Nicola. Was I sitting down? Yes, I lied. The charity had got back and offered me the job. Was I going to accept?

Um. Yeah. 'Course I was. That was terrific.

We then talked quickly about the specifics of accepting and she'd send me e-mails and I'd reply and then there were numbers to call but she'd put them in the e-mail and congratulations and I seemed so downbeat and she thought I hadn't got it and well done and, and, and.......

In between all this, the Lord Chancellor's Visitor was firing questions and the Nurse and a maintenance guy joined in about the missing cable and a larger wardrobe.

At one point I was having a four way conversation.

I was still dizzy with the excitement of it all when I put the 'phone down. After the congratulations, the interrogation continued.

How was Uncle being funded?

Um. Well. Birmingham City Council sent me invoices for his care until May 2005. Then, suddenly, it stopped.

Well, she said. He must be PCT funded. Was he?

I couldn't say. The invoices stopped without explanation and I've been claiming everything that's due to him ever since, just in case there's been a mistake and they start invoicing again.

He just gets a State Pension?

Um. No. He gets a small Private Pension and Attendance Allow-

Attendance Allowance, she interrupted. If he's PCT funded then he shouldn't be receiving Attendance Allowance.

Well, no one said how he was being funded, so I've been claiming everything.

I see. Well, someone here should know what's what. Where's the office?

We went down to the office to find it shut. The office is open from 8am to 3:30pm. It was now 3:40pm.

A nursing assistant let the Visitor have the office number and she told me she'd ring the office, get some answers and then get back to me.

That would be good, thank you.

With that, she left and I went back upstairs to collect my now empty bags.

The Nursing Home has a new security system which means that visitors can't just leave. There's a keypad to get out and every visitor has to be escorted out by staff.

It took another quarter of an hour simply to get out of the building.

I finished the day shellshocked, but hopeful.

I'd been offered a job (subject to references, CRB checks, List 99 and a medical questionnaire) and Uncle might be owed money by Birmingham City Council.

The trouble is, how was I going to get the work experience at the radio station.

I had a load of 'phone calls to make tomorrow morning.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Fun fun fun

I've been having a great time!

The radio station thing is fun. I've been shown how the station works, how to set up a studio, why the radio station still call the "click and drag" computer boxes "carts" (from the cartridges with handles that used to be used to play recorded music or interviews) and I have been stuck in front of a computer trying to write a script.

It's tougher than it looks.

There's a harassed looking man doing the training. He looks much older than me but I was shocked to find out he's six years younger.

There's a lot of sport going on. Team reports from non-league sides I've never heard of are planned in advance by a small collection of supremely keen young volunteers.

One guy is still only in his late teens but he's smart, funny, knowledgeable and very confident. He appears much older than his years as well.

There is also a very irritating news guy. He's doing a Masters degree in Media. He seems to be everywhere - sport, star chat, long rambling interviews with people, news - he seems to have no real means of financial support and he's a fully grown adult in his late twenties.

His live presentation is rubbish - all audible button clicks and misfades - but as he doesn't seem to have any job, he can afford the time to be at the station almost all day every day. He's taken over.

Meanwhile, life is moving at some pace for me. Even the training week was screwed up by a dentist's appointment. Instead of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - the training went Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning and afternoon with a mad panic at around 2pm because I had to sign on at the other side of town at 2:30pm.

I had a great time at the station. I was continually complimented on my voice. That was embarrassing, actually. However, I even managed to listen to my voice for long enough to edit a three minute piece (03.00.068 minutes to be precise) about the local market.

The radio stuff is great, but it doesn't pay. I'd love to be long term unemployed or retired so I can volunteer, but I have a mortgage to pay. I must find work to pay the mortgage or else I'll lose the house.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Needs must

I've been shopping.

I've been looking at what people are wearing and it's nothing like what I wear.

I don't like wearing black. It's for funerals and, frankly, I've been to enough of those.

However. If it's not some corporate uniform with labels and badges, then black business suits are all professional women seem to be wearing.

Black jackets usually with one button tied tightly under the bust, white shirt, long black trousers and either black ballet pumps or black courts.

It's like watching a Clone Army of human/polyester hybrids taking over the world. They're boring. They're unoriginal.

But they're employed.

Here's me doing what I think is smart but quirky. What's wrong with an electric blue striped blouse? A long maroon sequined skirt with maroon striped blouse? Something wrong with a purple blouse? Or, or , or - well, you get the picture.

They look like an interchangeable bunch of Barbie dolls and, by comparison, I look like a trainee bag lady at Beginner level.

So I went shopping. But I'm skint.

So I've been scouring the charity shops.

Today I went to Wednesbury. A small God forsaken High Street with a wide variety of charity shops to choose from including Beacon for the Blind, Scope, Help the Aged, Acorn Childrens' Hospice, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research.

And I found a pair of size 18 Dorothy Perkins pinstripe trousers for £2.25 at Scope. A pair of size 20 George sateen black trousers with pink button detail for £2.50 and a Marks and Spencers denim skirt also for £2.50 at Acorn.

Also the Lawrence of Arabia soundtrack and a collection of other records including some South American and Hawaiian kitsch for the bargain price of £7.50.

I spent more on 33rpm records than I did on clothes. And I can't return them because it's charidee.

There's nothing like digging a hole for onself is there?

I now have to adjust the trousers to fit me. Properly.

The trouble is, the fashion for trousers is long - almost catching under the shoe heels.

I tend to keep my trousers short - stopping as they just start to "bag" on top of the shoes.

This means that when I dress, if i don't wear the same shoes as I was wearing when I adjusted the trousers, I end up with the jeans flapping around my ankles in the style of Alexsi Sayle.

If I don't wear shoes at all when I measure to adjust, the results vary alarmingly from waaaaay too short (I've thrown clothes into charity bins before now) to almost right.

I have only ever adjusted denim jeans before now, so I was nervous about lousing up on these even though they cost less that a fiver.

I found my highest heels and put them on to adjust the trousers. It didn't help when I realised that the previous wearers had also adjusted the trousers and badly.

The Dorothy Perkins were uneven and badly hand sewn without a proper seam. The George pair were also uneven and falling down with Wundaweb failing to hold them up.

I persevered. With my new record purchases playing on the record player, I measured, adjusted, measured again, cut, pinned and sewed. By the time I was ironing the seams, the Readers' Digest Sounds of South America was tangoing away.

Now, if I get to go to another interview, I can do the black trouser thing. I've got a black raincoat, a long dark navy skirt suit jacket and a short black boucle style coat. I'm set for all seasons.

But I still don't see what's wrong with the electric blue striped blouse.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Nope. Not this one either

I went to yet another job interview today.

I want to do finance and accounting I really do - the money they get for even part qualified AAT is great.

Forget job satisfaction just gimme da cash.

The trouble is, Selly Oak Hospital is flaming miles away and on about £14k pa the train season ticket would cripple me.

Selly Oak is a massive and confusing place. I've been there before hand delivering applications. That's for another post.

There is no direct train or bus to the place and it is miles away from Birmingham City Centre.

The day was hot and sunny, the trains were on time (£4.70 day ticket) and the shoes relatively comfortable.

I entered what I thought was the main entrance (no, it was the Outpatients entrance) and, after I'd been to the toilet, the nice lady gave me directions to the Finance building.

Down an access road, across the main car entrance, past the building for defence medicine, past people in army uniforms carrying clipboards, past the diabetes clinic, past some skin clinic or other, past the porters loading up the old milk float that passes as internal transport, past a lot of plant and maintenance huts and buildings, down between two buildings, past a bus stop for the internal shuttle bus, past some green lawns, past the smoking shelter and uphill to the big building in the middle.

I couldn't miss it apparently.

I got there eventually. On time even.

The interview went well, I thought. They asked questions, I answered them well, I asked intelligent questions and they answered them.

Including why interview me when I clearly had no experience of accounting or finance?

Well, they said. I ticked the disabled box.

Eh?

The law says that if a candidate fits all the essential criteria for the post and ticks the disabled box, a recruiting employer is bound by law to interview the candidate.

The D(isability) I(nterview) G(uarantee) S(cheme) strikes again.

I'm up against experienced candidates who know what pivot tables are. Who know how BACS works. Who can reconcile ledgers. And it's not a training position.

It's extremely unlikely that I'll get this job, but they had to interview me anyway.

Terrific.

There I was dolled up to the nines and there was no chance of getting this job.

Still the interview went well.