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.
What else did I have to do?
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.