Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year's Eve 2008


I've never been so cold.

I have never seen freezing fog this freezing before.

Jeepers!


This is a proper winter.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Resent the New Labour Nanny State? Man, you ain't seen nothin'

A lot of people don't like being told what to do. Posh people who need to keep their beaks out of other peoples' business need to stop telling us what to do. Apparently. It was never like this. Apparently.

Huge numbers of people hold a grudge after the smoking in public places thing, no one likes to be told not to drop litter, slow down in their cars, pay their taxes and so on. However the British Film Institute archive have a large number of public information films designed to be shown in cinemas and in public meetings.

Do you think, in war time Britain we needed to be told how to make tea. No?

Check these two spiffing Cockney gels and their swivel eyed mentor teaching Grandma to suck eggs.......



Remember - "pot to kettle, NEVER kettle to pot".

How about this extraordinary film for adolescent girls from 1951



That wonderful RP accent - "Dewn't worray if you feel sleck or lazay".

I never do, dear, I never do.

But this one takes the biscuit. How to pack a suitcase, anyone?



Ah, the good old days.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Eye, eye

Anyone who's ever clapped eyes on me knows I am prone to deep purple-red blushes whenever I'm stressed, whenever I'm upset, whenever I'm too warm, whenever I'm too cold, whenever I've just gone from a cold area to a warm area, whenever....... oh, just well, whenever, really.

It's normally just a harmless blush and related to the rosacea that I occasionally need to seek treatment for. Now and again, I develop a deep red rash with little spots that thickens up the skin around my nose and mouth and makes me look like I sniff glue.

No one told me that there is such a thing as ocular rosacea. There's me thinking that the worst I could hope for is rhinophyma or 'drinker's nose'. An irony considering my hypersensitivity to alcohol and my teetotalism.

But no. My allergy to my safety specs has triggered ocular rosacea predominantly affecting my right eye. Permanently itching and, at best, only mildy bloodshot, I now have three sets of eye drops to contend with.

On first waking, the sodium cromoglycate and then the antibiotic drops, later on (as I am just about to go out the front door to work) the artificial tears which I bring with me for "as required" use.

As I go to bed, more sodium cromoglycate and more antibiotic drops. Just before I hit the pillow, more artificial tears.

Now it's started, this may well be a permanent feature.

This is on top of the nasal inhaler, the oral inhalers and the antihistamine, the antidepressant and the antibiotic tablets I have to take to keep everything else down to a dull roar.

Oh, and the multivitamin and the calcium tablets. Just in case.

Goody.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Ear Worms 1 : Sanity 0. I blame my childhood.

I've had the chorus of a stupid song running around my head now for about a week.

Then I made it worse.

I typed what little I could remember about it into Google and pressed enter.

It's on YouTube.

Dammit.

Now I can sing all the words to the chorus and hum the entire tune.

And it's from the 70s. The decade that left fashion looking like it had been caught in a hit and run.

Check out The Sweet. The guitar player with the silver tights and hot pants - that's a guy.

See if you can spot the craaazeee green afro sported by a white audience member, the girl in the white vest and mini skirt who reeeeeealy fancies herself and the brief flash of the smock-wearing escapee from a Jethro Tull gig.





Ah yes, when true rock stars wore spandex, high heels, sunshine yellow trousers and blouses and stripy tank tops!?

All together now

'Cos Little Willy Willy won't go home,
But you can't push Willy round Willy won't go,
Tried telling everybody but woah no!
Little Willy Willy won't go home!

AAAAAAAAAAARGGH!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

What happens when..............

you're allergic to your prescription safety glasses?

More specifically the little nose pads that help to keep the glasses on my face.

I got a pair of glasses made and wore them for a while but the prescription was too short. This meant that anything beyond the length of my arms was slightly blurry.

Not good. Especially when I had trouble distinguishing just who was at the other end of the corridor - was that Arthur or Martha down there?

Annoyingly the frame was also loose and the bins kept slipping down my nose. Irritating when I need both hands to do something and I'm relying on my specs to help me see what I'm doing and protect me while I do it.

And then, just for added laughs, the greasy little nose pads were made of (or with) something that brought the bridge of my nose out in a tender, bright red, rosasic rash.

I brought them back to the optician and demonstrated the various problems. They tightened the frames, changed the nose pads and only then took them off me to send them back to the manufacturer for a new 'walking around' prescription.

Now they're back.

I collected them on Sunday, wore them for two days and on Wednesday, I woke up able to see the red and swollen bridge of my nose in my field of vision. It looked like I'd had my nose broken in a fight.

I brought them back this evening after work. I was told that as it was a Health and Safety matter, I would have to take it up with my Health and Safety Officer and they would have to take it from there.

Goody.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Spoke too soon

I had a total (TOTAL) of 3 and a half hours sleep last night. No external disturbances, no sudden noises, just fitful snoozes.

I have the pillow spray, the linen spray, the aromatherapy candles, aromatherapy pulse point oil rollers, there's no telly, no computer, no distractions in the bedroom and it's dark.

My 'sleep hygiene' (medical jargon) is impeccable. I don't eat too late nor do I drink caffeinated drinks after about 6pm and yet I'm still awake at 3am trying to work out my first thoughts on waking (apparently, if you note those down, you'll find out what's worrying you and you can deal with it later) and trying to work out whether I'm too hot (not really), too cold (occasionally) or what?

So I went into work and I just shambled very slowly trying not to drop too many things. Great impression after a week off sick. Really. Just. Brilliant.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

I'm not ignoring you, honest!

I'm not ignoring my blog. I've been so busy and tired lately that I haven't been able to sort myself out.
I had a couple of days off the week before last and it turned into a massive bout of migraine and insomnia that lasted until last night.
Matters weren't helped by the shenanigans next door. The tenant has turned her house over to drug users and occasionally dealers and prostitutes showed up as well.
It's. Been. Brilliant. Fun.
Not.
I was invited to the Police Station on Tuesday to make a Witness Impact Statement (signing myself Resident A - there was no Resident B) and Wednesday I got a call asking me if I could have a "little listen" to next door and see if I could hear anything.
At 11:30pm.
I got out of bed and went for a wander occasionally listening with my ear to the party wall. Nope. Nothing. I told PC Teddy Bear that I couldn't hear anything. He told me that tallied with 'intelligence' and told me he'd ring again. Later.
At 12:15am, the Police caved the front door in with one of their Acme Door Openers and found, well, nothing. As I continually heard them shouting to each other. "There's fuck all here, mate!", "We raided for nothing, there's nothing here!"
I do believe I did tell them that.
As they stamped and galumphed over the house, I got another 'phone call.
At 12:40 am.
They'd found nothing but it was a worthwhile effort as they'd spoken to the tenant who was round her Mum's house (in the next street) and she'd agreed to give up the tenancy. She'd lost control over who came to the house and many of the visitors left her frightened. The landlord's hands were tied by legalities but if the tenant can be persuaded to give up the tenancy and leave voluntarily then the house wasn't a nuisance to the neighbourhood for as long.
I thanked PC Bear and managed to get some sleep after about 4am.
I woke up with the alarm almost too dizzy to stand without rocking, my fingers fuzzy and the world around me throbbing in time to my pulse. The consequences of severe insomnia is a lot like being very drunk but without the expense of the booze.
In that state, I was going to be positively dangerous around a laboratory. I tried ringing in sick but the 'phone was engaged. I now had to try and stay awake during the day so that I could sleep at night.
I usually try to stay in the house but the temptation to lie down for "a few minutes" was just too great.
I shambled around Wolves city centre for a while. I had to stop every once in a while to stop the sensation that I was about to fall over. I was veering off to the left a lot. Either into people's front walls or off the pavement. I was very close to just sitting down in the Mander Centre with the old men who congregate there and nap.
Trying to sleep on Thursday night was just futile. Many of the people who used the house didn't know it had been raided. One prostitute click clacked down the road, hammered and shouted to be let in before using to the shared doorstep to have a piss. While she was there, another girl and a client drove up and then drove away when they realised there was no entry.
Some loons in a car showed up, again banging on the door and pacing the pavement as they texted and 'phoned the tenant to be let in.
As soon as the car drove off (registration texted to the police), the prostitute from earlier in the night showed up, texted the tenant and arranged to meet her.
The tenant let her in, they spent a fair amount of time in there before the prostitute click clacked off again and the tenant tried to close the front door which had been splintered open by the police the night before.
She couldn't manage it. She brought in reinforcements and there were three loudly bickering people banging what remained of the door closed and trying to lock it. The rim lock was completely busted but the mortice could hold the door, if they could get it to close. They did eventually.
At about 3am.
Friday was nightmarish. I had trouble putting my socks and trousers on (that balancing on one leg thing was just about beyond me), I was starting to see dark flickers on the edges of my field of vision, the throbbing world thing was harder to shake off and I was just about able to walk to the corner shop and back. By the time I realised that I had to 'phone work, it was too late to get through. After about 8:45am, the 'phone is permanently engaged.
I'd run out of books to listen to, was being driven to distraction by commercial radio and couldn't concentrate enough to read. I sent an e-mail which took far longer to write than it should have done and counted out my spare change. I fumbled, dropped and miscounted £4 of copper and I need another 6 5p pieces for another £5. It was grim. A large portion of my afternoon was spent on my hands and knees looking for dropped coins.
I went to bed at a sensible hour, but again, the tenant had let someone into the house. They left at about 2am with a short spell of the banging and crashing that accompanies closing and locking the front door nowadays.
After a few hours continuous sleep, yesterday wasn't too bad. I had to get up (It's not fair! Weekends are for lie ins!) otherwise I wouldn't be able to sleep at night and I did have a bit of shopping to do.
I was able to do a bit of browsing around the shops (jeans £2 and bag £1 from PDSA and a casual jacket £6.25 from BHF). I missed my creative writing class (and felt guilty about it) and I spent 2 hours wandering around Beatties basement unable to make up my mind about purchasing some trouser hangers.
That's what insomnia does. It quickly erodes the ability to think straight. Even making simple decisions like should I buy three separate hangers or one hanger for four pairs of trousers takes an age.
In the end, various shop assistants kept coming up to me and asking if everything was okay. Did I need any help? Could I use a basket? Would I be interested in a store card? Was I interested in the Krups mixers? I stood too close to the collection of implements for too long. Was I interested in melon/potato/ice cream/butter scoops? Lemon zesters? Olive spoons?
I paid for the three separate hangers and left still unsure if I had made the right choice.
I reinforced the seams of the new bag with gaffer tape (oh the glamour!) and marked up the jeans to be shortened (30R means 6 inches have to lopped off) and then just shambled around doing the laundry and trying to clean out the fridge.
Fortnight old milk anyone?
Today, after a full and quiet night's sleep, I was up and raring to go at 06:30. I'm catching up with all the post and I'm updating my blog. Oooo! Get me. I'm blogging again.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Still here!

Um.

There's been a development. Job wise. Trouble is, they know. About this. I've signed a contract and that means I can't just "spout".

I've got a few things planned, I just need to find the time to do them all.

Goody.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

And now for a commercial break.....

Adverts. Adverts have music. Music creates earworms.

Earworms?

Earworms are those annoying snippets of music that run round and round your head driving you nuts until you go to sleep or another earworm replaces it.

I don't need TV for earworms. Commercial radio can do that to me anyway.

There's that Shangri La carbon footprint advert



Then there's that bloody DFS advert



The Renault Twingo advert deserves a special mention for being truly, scarily memorable



Although I like this song, I have no idea why it's so popular with advertising agencies



Radio 2 keep playing this. I keep finding it referenced with the Hillary Swank film "P.S., I Love You". Janice Long keeps mentioning an ad campaign but doesn't say which one - I get the distinct impression that she doesn't like it but has to play it because it's on the R2 playlist



And while I used to like Thunderbirds, I'm as serious as cancer when I say I never liked Rhythm is a Dancer



Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Monster? Monstrous more like!

Our Ref: M/CV/CONSLT/SLC

14 May 2008

Dear Confidential

We have located your CV on monster and have found that candidates of a similar profile to yours are very successful in our organization. Please take a look at both Job Roles below and if you feel either position is of interest then email kayoakes@tutorialsupportservice.co.uk quoting the above ref no, who will arrange an interview time.

25K + OTESales Consultants required to join our rapidly expanding national sales team.

The Tutorial Support Service offers an innovative curriculum based home study programme designed to help primary school children improve their English and maths. Supported by our highly skilled tele-appointers you will attend qualified appointments to promote our programme to interested families in their own homes.

School Liaison Coordinator - Term Time£250+ OTE per week

The Tutorial Support Service offers an innovative curriculum based home study programme designed to help primary school children improve their English and math. Supported by our highly skilled tele-appointers you will attend appointments to promote our programme to Head Teachers, whilst using your positive attitude to further enhance business opportunities.

Sales experience is not essential but the ability to create a professional approach and confidently present our programme is a must. To ensure your success, you will receive first class training and ongoing support. Excellent earnings await the candidates who have the right skills and attributes to succeed as a self-employed consultant in this rapidly growing industry sector.

If you would like the opportunity to work within an ethical sales organization and can answer yes to the following questions then please contact me on the above email address.

1) Are you authorized to work in the UK?
2) Can you meet Criminal Records Criteria?
3) Are you able to work evenings and weekends?
4) Do you have your own transport and full UK driving licence?
5) Do you have your own PC with access to Broadband?

Further information can be gained by visiting http://www.tutorialsupportservice.co.uk/

We look forward to hear from you.

Yours sincerely

Kay Oakes
PA to Managing Director

Okay. That just about bloody does it!

My cv and profile are getting deleted. That site has been no use at all to me.


Monstrous!!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

That's my weekend sorted!

Sometimes, I'm stuck for things to do over the weekend.

Yet more job hunting? Catch up with BBC television output with iPlayer? DIY? Laundry? Housework? Blog update? Cinema?

Well this weekend, I won't be stuck. The British Tarantula Society is coming to town!

Woohoo!

Eh?

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

I'm stunned

Londoners have always treated the Mayoral Elections as a way to stick two fingers up at the ruling Party.

Resolutely red during Mrs Thatcher's reign (especially after she abolished the Greater London Council) and support Tony Blair's candidate for Mayor? Ha!

Red Ken all the way.

Now this perversity has just about left me stunned.

Yes, Red Ken has won over the Labour Party which has taken him back into the fold. He was effectively the Brown candidate for mayor. However, with increases in taxes (from congestion charge to car tax) he was increasingly unpopular, pandering to ever loonier minority groups for votes and with a smug nasal voice that made him sound like a comb and paper when he spoke, Red Ken was going to take a major hit.

But to VOTE BOJO!!? In such massive numbers that he'd win?!!?

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson?!?

What?

De Pfeffel? How do you even pronounce that? Der Feffel? Dee PuhFeffel?

Good grief.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Dear, oh dear

If I thought I had bad job interviews before, they were nothing compared to today's fiasco.

I swear, it just can't get worse than this.

Last Thursday, I got a call from Balbir who told me that the lab job I had applied for through the Reed website wasn't as suitable for me as the science admin job she had for me in Burton on Trent. Seriously, she said, would I be interested in about £18,000 pa writing reports for an environmental analysis bunch.

Okay, I said. I looked up Burton on Trent and saw that it was two stops up the line from Birmingham and the stylised map Balbir sent me only lulled me further into a false sense of security.

I had arranged the day off (thereby losing myself a day's wages) and prepared as best I could for the interview. Now I've got a computer and broadband, research can be pretty comprehensive.

I got to Birmingham and went to the information desk for the next train to Burton On Trent. The background noise was terrific and the lady had to repeat the platform a couple of times before I heard "Ay". Thinking she said "Eight", I went to platform 8. No train.

But I did hear a call for a train going to Nottingham via Burton on Trent was going to be leaving 9 A.

I quickly went to 9A, only to come across a train with its doors closing and moving away. At least the guard at the rear of the train had the decency to turn around and say "Sorry, love" as the train left the platform at about 2 miles an hour.

I went back up the stairs to the Information kiosk to be told that the next train going to Burton on Trent would be leaving at 2:13.

Over 20 minutes away. That would meant I was cutting it fine, but I could get there just on time.

Oh, well. At least I had time to get to WH Smith before I got to the platform.

A quick trawl through the drinks and papers before I got to the platform to see a brand new Cross Country train waiting. I was one of the first on board and had my pick of the seats. So I sat, comfortably and watched the train fill up around me. And we all waited. And waited.

One family which seemed to consist of at least three generations of grandmother, mother and children, had a boisterous dog that the little girl of the group seemed be in charge of. Twice she let go of the lead and laughed as it galloped up and down the carriage heedless of everyone else on the train.

Fabulous.

And we all carried on waiting.

The first clue we had that all was not well with the brand new train, was the sight of two uniformed men passing through the carriages, using an Allen key to open access panels above our heads. They pushed buttons inside the panels and closed the panels again before moving down the train to the next set of panels.

About fifteen minutes after we were supposed to be off, all the power went out. The power came back on again, but the LED sign board wouldn't work properly. Then we heard the driver apologise for the delay, but there were problems with the power. He didn't know when we would be off, but he was going to make sure that it would be as quickly as possible.

I rang the Agency. Balbir answered and I told her what the problem was. I told her, as I tiptoed through all the luggage, that I was going to get another train and that I was going to be late.

How late?

[How long is a piece of string these days?]

I told her that I didn't know. I had only just found out that the train was defective and I was going to find another Burton on Trent train ASAP.

Yes, but when was that going to be? What should she tell the client?

[I dunno!]

I told her that I would be an hour late. Would that be okay or would it be easier if we just cancelled?

No, she insisted, this was a brilliant chance it wasn't going to come around again, I really shouldn't cancel.

Just then I came across the next platform and a heavily packed train that was going my way. Behind me, the passengers of the train I had just got out of had been told the train had been cancelled and were also trying to heave themselves and all their luggage onto the train.

I was going to be an hour late then, and I would arrive for the interview at four not three.

Balbir told me that was okay(!) and I hung up. I managed to find a seat and the eventual trip to Burton on Trent was uneventful.

I arrived at Burton just as it started to rain. As I left the train station at around 3:15, I was struck by how much silver and metalwork I could see across the townscape. There seemed to be breweries as far as I could see. Hoppers, silos and brewing tanks literally dominated the skyline. There were even restored Victorian grain storage depots just as I left the station.

And the smell. Blimey O'Reilly! I am used to the smell of brewing. I lived and worked between Park Royal (Guinness) and Fulham (Fullers) for years and now live in Wolverhampton (Marstons) where, periodically the smell of brewing takes over the entire (albeit small) city.

But here! The smell was gross. Burton is a small place and there just seemed to be breweries all over the place. The smell was inescapable.

I walked down the hill away from the station in search of a cash machine. I was going to need a taxi and I the cash machine I passed in Sainsbury's on my way out of Wolverhampton was out of cash.

Down a hill towards the Coors brewery. The place was massive and took up two sides of the street at one point with an enclosed footbridge over the road.

I passed the offices and the car park and a sad little fountain. Sat within the perimeter railings, an old fountain passed for decoration within the grounds. Made out of beer kegs and keg spigots, it sat in a lawned area just inside the metal railings. With the neglected air of something that hadn't been turned on for some time, it just sat there in the middle of a dried up pond, all dessicated green slime and dirt and looking fairly ridiculous.

I found a Sainsbury's at the end of the road. With a huge two storey advert for Coors in a stairwell on the corner of the building. I asked inside for a cash machine and was directed outside again and told to follow the building round to the back of the store. The store was part of a large retail complex. It stood alone on one side of the car park with a series of shops as part of a large shopping centre on the other side.

I took out thirty pounds and started to walk back up the hill to the train station (and the cab rank). Balbir called.

When was I going to get to the interview?

[Remember, I had already told her I was going to be an hour late. I still had nearly thirty minutes to "showtime"]

I told Balbir that I was still running an hour late and that I would still be getting there for four.

Yes, she said, but could I get there any earlier?

Um, no.

Okay, she said, she would tell the client.

[Which begs the question, what had she told the client before?]

I passed the fountain again, got to the taxi rank and got a cab to the lab.

The map had lied. The place was nowhere near Burton on Trent. It was a good 10 to 15 miles out of the town in a business park that had been built on the outskirts of a little village called Bretby.

The taxi driver, even though he took the main and direct route still took nearly 20 minutes to get to the park. This did not bode well. If I got this job, this would entail over an hour and a half just to get to Burton and then nearly an hour by bus to this place. It was not doable.

The taxi driver turned off and greeted two men in hi-vi coats like old friends. One of them directed him to the side of a building where a couple of people were going in and out. I paid the driver and went in the door he took me to.

10 minutes later, I couldn't work out why all the internal doors were locked. There was no Reception and there was no one around to ask. What sort of place was this?

A grey haired man in a well padded hi-vi coat came out of one of the locked doors and asked me what I was doing.

I told him I was looking for Reception as I was there for an interview in Admin.

He took me up to an office where the lady behind the desk looked at me with some confusion.

Was I meant to be there?

I didn't know. I had an interview which I was late for and I had been told to ask for Reception.

[It was only at this late stage that I realised Balbir hadn't told me the name of the person who was going to interview me - BRILLIANT!!]

The grey haired PA to the Director then started to ring around until she found the woman I was supposed to meet.

The man in the hi-vi coat took me through the corridors of an old hotchpotch of a building that reminded me of my old school. All different levels, thickly polished lino and varnished wooden doors with windows so that passers by could see in.

The labs we passed had glassware, ovens and people in lab coats and safety specs and the labels on the doors had signs like "Soil" and "Water".

He left me at the front of the building with the Receptionist and I thanked him and signed in.

It was a full ten minutes before the Interviewer came down to collect me, which made me wonder if she was making some sort of point.

She was friendly enough, but I could see on her face that I didn't have a chance. If I couldn't get there for 3pm, how was I supposed to be there for work?

The interview was strained. Polite but strained. The inorganic chemistry side was very rusty, the agency hadn't sent much by way of detail about me and she had lost the second page of my cv. The first page had the Agency logo above my name address.

[Funny, I don't remember putting that there]

Could I write reports?

Yes.

Was I familiar with Microsoft Office packages?

Yes.

She kept labouring the hours of work.

They often asked for late evening working if they were trying to get a rush job out, would that be okay?

Yes.

[Can I do late working? Of course!]

Then, just as I felt confident that this interrogation couldn't get any worse....... it got worse.

Someone rang me. In all the rush I'd forgotten to put the 'phone in "Silent" mode.

No one rings me. Only if it's an emergency or if it's a recruitment agency does anyone ring me. I'm so far away from anyone who would call me in an emergency that another 15minutes/half an hour won't make any difference. A recruitment call really can be left until it's easier for me to ring back. Either way, it doesn't need to be answered immediately.

All these thought were going through my head as I talked to the Interviewer. As my handbag buzzed beside me, I tried to talk over it and ignore it. I told the Interviewer to just ignore it.

Actually, could you switch it off?

[Oh, God!]

I retrieved the 'phone from the pocket of my handbag and started to press buttons.

1 MISSED CALL

0 UNKNOWN

1 NEW MESSAGE

1 ANSAPHONE MESSAGE

Toggle

Vibrate.....Vibe and Ring.....Loud......Soft.....Silent.....Vibrate

Doh, missed.

Vibrate....Vibe and Ring....Loud....Soft....Silent

Toggle

I put the phone back into the handbag pocket and turned back to face the Interviewer across the desk.

There was an awkward moment.

This interview really isn't going very well, is it?

No she smiled, it isn't.

And then, the awkwardness vanished and we started to get on really well.

I suspect that she had started off worried that I was seriously thinking I would get this job. Perhaps she was worried about my reaction when the time came to turn me down. When I made it clear that I didn't think I had a snowflake's chance in Hell of getting the job, she could relax. There was no need for her to impart any bad news. I knew it already.

We both ended up slagging off the agency who sent me. I couldn't believe that they would send me all this way for an interview. She could. They hadn't even sent anyone over to see what sort of place it was at all. The agency had no idea that the lab was so remote.

We finished off and she took me downstairs to Reception. We shook hands and I told her it was a pleasure meeting her. She just smiled. And walked away as quickly as was polite.

Once out in the car park I found my 'phone and rang the Ansaphone.

It was Matt from another agency. I rang Matt and found out why he rang me.

Was I interested in a single day's work as a mystery shopper for Sunrise Senior Living Care Facilities?

What?

All I had to do was pretend that I wanted to put my father or another relative in a home, contact Sunrise and make an appointment to see the place.

Um, no. I had full time temporary employment - I was just in the market for something full time and permanent.

Oh, well. If I was sure? They paid well and he thought of me because he knew I was in Wolverhampton.

Yep. Quite sure.

Well okay then.

I thanked him for thinking of me.

During this conversation, I was trying to work out where I was and where the Exit was. In the end, I decided to follow the trail of cars. No one could be trying to get into this place at what, a quarter to five?

Sure enough, the cars were heading for the gate I had gone through in the taxi an hour earlier. Just as I was in sight of the gate, Balbir rang. She wanted to know how it all went.

Badly.

Why? What went wrong?

[Jesus, she was a total bimbo]

Well, I was an hour late....

That wasn't your fault - they can't blame you for that

And I went in the side staff entrance instead of the main entrance because that's where the taxi left me. And the place is so far away, that I don't think that it's feasible.

Would you accept the job if you were offered it?

No. And I don't think they will.

Why not?

[What the Hell? Was she retarded?]

Well it's so far away. The place is nowhere near Burton on Trent, it's miles out. Travelling here is just not feasible without a car.

Well, can you drive?

[If I could drive, why do you think I took the train, you dopey cow?]

No.

Well, could you learn?

[Eh?]

Not that fast.

Why do you think they won't offer you the job?

Well, I was an hour late. If I can't get there for 3pm how am I going to make an early start for say, 8am.

I suppose

And besides, I think they were looking for someone who had more recent knowledge of inorganic chemistry.

Oh.

I really am quite rusty, and I'm pretty sure that my lack of confidence was really obvious.

So it was a bit of a waste of time then.

[A bit?]

Yep. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm stuck in an industrial park miles away from the train station and I've got to be thinking about how to get back home.

Oh. Okay.

And that was the last time I heard from that idiot. She had no idea where this place was and couldn't help me with directions.

There was a small footpath running along the road. Earlier, in the taxi, I had seen bus stops and a few houses. I had a tenner to crack before I could think about getting a bus.

I turned left (towards Burton) and walked. My feet were killing me. Twenty minutes later, I came across a Premier Inn. With a pub attached. Well, I could do with a drink.

I walked in and ordered a Diet Coke. I got the change and went over to the back of the room to see the view over Bretby. Total countryside. It really was the middle of nowhere.

Finishing my drink, I went to the toilet and went outside to the bus stop. And waited. A bus finally showed up about ten past six. £1.70 later, I went on a magical mystery tour of the villages around Burton on Trent starting with Brizlincote.

Nearly three quarters of an hour later, and having trundled past Coors buildings wherever we went, we ended up in a part of Burton that I'd never seen before. Terrific.

I walked into a nearby shopping centre. Although the shops were closed, there were still people walking through it. I stopped a lady and asked for the train station. She stopped her mate the Security Guard who told me that if I walked out the entrance dead ahead and carried on across the car park as if I were going to Sainsbury's.....

[Ah ha!]

Then if I carried on walking, the train station was at the top of the road.

I thanked him and carried on.

Stopping at Sainsbury's for papers (Wednesday is Jobs Day up here), drinks and snacks, I carried on walking (past the decrepit fountain) and got to the train station. Just for interest, I asked the guy at the counter what the monthly season ticket was from Wolverhampton to Burton on Trent.

£221.20

Where do they get the small change from? Why not just make it £222 per month and be done with it?

I waited for the train to Birmingham. It was a loooooong time coming. Trains passed through at some speed quite regularly but the train to Brum only arrived at around twenty past seven.

I read through the papers. Nope. Although there were pages of jobs, there were none going in central Burton on Trent. Loads in Derby though.

And then there was the train to Wolverhampton (stopping at Smethwick Rolfe Street, Smethwick Galton Bridge, Sandwell and Dudley, Tipton, Coseley and, finally, Wolverhampton) before the painful walk to the bus station and a quick jog to the bus before finally limping home.

Jesus, what a day.

A day's wages lost, the best part of £45 wasted (£12.50 on the train fare alone, £30 quid in cash taken out, £10 for the taxi, £1.70 for the bus etc) and nothing to show for it.

Brilliant.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Today I said "No"

This was sent to me today (check the date) by Aiesha who, last Thursday, thought I might be interested in a position after seeing my details on-line.
I really must get that bloody Monster cv deleted - It's done me no good at all.

Adecco

PERMANENT/ CONTRACT ORDER FORM

DATE: march 08
CONSULTANT: Clare

OFFICE: ASR Contracts
JOB NO: 607000171

JOB TITLE
: Collections Advisor
SALARY+OTE: £13250 - £14500 + £20000 uncapped OTE

COMPANY NAME: Virgin Media
ADDRESS: The Mailbox, 101 Wharfside St, Birmingham B1 1RF

WEBSITE:
www.telewest.co.uk
DIRECTIONS: (Nearest tube/landmark)
PRIMARY CONTACT NAME: Xxxxx Xxxxx
POSITION: Credit Services Manager
TIME IN POSITION:
PHONE NUMBER: 0121 XXX XXXX
FAX NUMBER:0121 XXX XXXX
SECONDARY CONTACT NAME: Xxxxxxx Xxxx
POSITION: Recruitment Officer
TIME IN POSITION:
PHONE NUMBER: Xxx Xxxxxx / Recruitment Officer
FAX NUMBER:
EMAIL ADDRESS:
1.IMPORTANT COMPANY INFORMATION – Parent Company, Brief History, T/O, Staff No’s, Locations, Team Structure, Types of Sales Professionals, Culture, this Years Budget, USPs, Competitors, Performance Last Year & YTD

Virgin Media is a provider of high quality digital TV, internet and telephone services in the UK
They were also the first to offer internet and unlimited phone packages
They now have over 1.8 million customers and every other minute someone connects to Virgin Media
Virgin Media pride themselves on the level of customer care and have won many awards and most recently won Call Centre of the Year 2005 awarded by the Call Centre Association ahead of Tesco, Royal Bank of Scotland and RAC
They have recently merged with NTL which now means they are the largest provider of consumer broadband in the country

2.REASON FOR THE VACANCY – Replacement, Expansion, Project, etc.
1. Expansion
3.KEY OBJECTIVES – Main purpose or outcome expected of the role, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly KPIs or Targets?
1. To minimise debt owed by the customer and reduce customer losses through negotiation with the customer
4.JOB SPECIFICATION – Day to day responsibilities, Sales vs Acct Mgt, Client Base, Key Challenges, Reporting Lines, Sales Process & Sales Value.
1. Reporting to the Team Manager you will be a team of approx 6-10 other advisors
2. You will work a fixed shift of 37.5 hours a week (between the hours of 8.00 – 20.00 eg.8 – 4.30 – 9- 5.30 10- 6.30 and so on.
3. 50% of the calls will be incoming and 50% will be outbound to the existing client base
3. You will be targeted to collect monthly payments owed by customers
4. Your target will also be based around attendance, call-time and compliance
5. You will have the ability to negotiate payment terms with a view to the customer paying in future on direct debit
6. The overall objective is to listen to collect debt but to rectify the customers payment problems with a long term solution that results in a win:win scenario
7. There will be monthly reviews held by your Team Manager
8. You will also have regular coaching one to one to discuss any areas of improvement
9. Complaint calls can be escalated if they fall outside your criteria
5.TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT - Induction, Product & Sales.
1. 5 weeks training to include product and negotiation training
2. Ongoing 1 to 1 coaching by Team Manager
6.PERSON SPECIFICATION - Desirable & Non Desirable Characteristics, Best Team Fit.
1. You must have the ability to self motivate
2. Must be target driven and enthusiastic
3. Listening and empathy skills are also a must
4. Finally you must be confident to negotiate over the phone
7.EXPERIENCE & BACKGROUND NECESSARY – Non Neg, Employment history
1. A minimum of 6 months call centre / office based experience
2. Ideally this will be in a customer service / Sales role
3. Collections experience would be an advantage but is not essential
8.ADDITIONAL BENEFITS – Pension, Health, Gym Membership, Vouchers, parking, Petrol Card, Company Credit Card, Car.
1. 23 days holiday
2. Opt in 3% contributory pension scheme after probation period
3. Full Virgin Media package including 4 Meg broadband / phone / cable T.V.
4. PPP Healthcare
5. Due to virgin Media affiliation with Lloyds / TSB there are discounts on Mortgages and other banking products
9.POINTS OF APPEAL – Status, Money, Career Progression, Travel, Training, etc.
1. Genuine opportunity to progress Team Leader / senior Management
2. Great working environment in a prime location
3. Market leading salary and uncapped commission structure
10.INTERVIEWING PROCESS – First, Seconds, Procedure, Presentations, Assessment days, Who will be in attendance, Interview times & dates.
1. Virgin Media will conduct an assessment including Verbal / Numeric test, Roleplay, personality test and a tour of the building
2. If successful you will invited to a 2nd competency based interview lasting approximately 1 hour
11.START DATE – How is Position being covered currently? Interview dates
1. ASAP
12.CLIENTS AGENCY ARRANGEMENTS - Main Agency Supplier, Specialist Agency Competitors, Temp usage history
1. ASR
13.COMMENTS – Company Literature, Who else; what else, Other Contacts, Advertising spend, Any Other Business,
1.
2.
3.
4.
ACTION
FEE QUOTED: %
TOB SENT: _______________________________________
COMPETITION:______________________________________

ADVERTISING: _______?
CANDIDATES / ASSOCIATES

INTERVIEW DATE AND TIME

RESULT
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
COMMENTS:
__________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________
SUCCESS DETAILS
NAME: ____________________________________________________
START DATE: ________________________

SALARY: _________________________________________________
AGREED FEE: ________________________

50/50 SPLIT YES________/NO __________
SHARED BRANCH: ____________________________________________
And my reply?
Hello.

Thanks for your e-mail. I read the downloaded document and I'm sorry to say that I'm really not suited to this line of work.

I don't own a television myself, take no interest in television and so, the prospect of debt collecting on behalf of a cable tv provider (amongst other things) really doesn't fill me with, well, enthusiasm.

Virgin are a good company to work for.

Thanks, but no thanks
Button Ginger
I know, I know. I need the money. Not that badly though.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

When you try your best but you don't succeed

After a couple of 'phone calls from Dad asking me (in Wolverhampton) if I knew where letters and documents around his house (in London) were, I went down to London.

In a fecking blizzard that followed me all the way down to London.

When I got there, and having spent money on files and dividers and a big thick marker pen, Dad told me that no, he was fine and he didn't need any help, thank you.

So, after a decent interval, I turned around and went home. I got to Victoria Coach Station about 2 hours early in the hope of getting on an earlier bus. No joy. The snow had caused chaos on the roads and the station resembled bedlam.

I got on a coach that the driver told us was meant for Wolverhampton and Dudley only. Needless to say there was no trouble on the return journey. The sun shone (in my side of the coach) and it looked like a fine, if cold, spring day.

The coach went to Birmingham anyway, because the law says the driver needed a break and we had to collect a relief driver to take us on to Wolverhampton.

The relief driver let him down, so we had to wait for another coach to arrive and that driver would carry on with us. After his legally proscribed 45 minute break. After he'd arrived about 20 minutes after us.

I've had an awful day with not much to show for it.

So has the rest of the capital by the look of it.

Monday, 31 March 2008

I know, I know...It's not good for me and I've got better things to be reading than this muck!

I've got a confession to make....

I buy the Mail on Sunday. Yes, I know my blood pressure is high enough, their take on justice is of the "When we run out of prisons then we'll just start hanging the blighters!" variety and their idea of affordable fashion is truly remarkable, but I do read other publications as well.

To show they are part of the digital world, they have a "Blog of the Week" feature which this week features Well Done Fillet, the blog of a waiter in Belfast. Well, glory be, I read it and agree with the MoS. It's funny, astute and well worth reading. I liked it so much that it is now featured it in my Blog Roll.

From Well Done Fillet, I wandered and found Anonymous Boxer who I think has just got the "voices in the head" conversation down really well. Very much like the self criticising conversations I have with myself but funny. And from Anonymous Boxer to Wicked Thistle. Also very funny.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

The Dream.......... and the reality

There was a dream. £4.3bn was spent on this dream. There were protests, there were inquiries, there was condemnation.

Then it was built. It was praised. It was declared beautiful. It was tested. It was declared secure and fit for purpose. It was officially opened.

Then reality hit....

There were flash mobbers (some in wheelchairs, so the security must have been comatose), there were parking problems, there was lost luggage, there were planes arriving and departing without luggage, there were apologies and finally, irate passengers flying British Airways from the new Heathrow Terminal 5 building were told not to bring luggage at all.

Yep. SNAFU.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Having fun just wasting time

When I first heard of The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, I wasn't interested.

Being a left handed dyslexic, I can't read music very well at all and had real nightmares learning recorder, flute and singing (sight reading and sight singing is beyond me, even now).

Mum bought a ukelele banjo and expected me to learn how to play it from an instruction booklet.

It. Did. Not. Go. Well.

That was then and this is now. The nightmare is over and I don't have to know chords or strings, or which way up it's supposed to go, or anything.

Fast forward to 2008 and I'm wasting time looking at random related videos, I came across them on Youtube and, although funny, I'm disappointed.

After all, I was expecting an orchestra. There's, only, like, seven of them.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Monday, 17 March 2008

St Patrick's Day

Just wear clover, no one will notice the difference. At least it's not that teeny little leek (spring onion thingy) that Prince Charles had to wear on his lapel St David's Day.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

I just had to share this with you

Every time I go down to London and buy a newspaper, The Puppini Sisters are always mentioned somewhere. They are a tight, disciplined close harmony singing group who do "Andrews Sisters" style harmonising on modern songs. They do a terrific take on "Heart of Glass", but I've found a swing version of "I Will Survive" which I think is absolutely brilliant.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Meeting the locals

There are a number of local mothers who have jobs here.

They are Early Years Workers, Play Group Leaders, Nursery Assistants and Family Support Workers. They do a great job. In order to make the place look 'bedded in' and less intimidating to the 'clients', the Centre uses as many local people as possible.

One lady is tall and thin, with a long black coat, a high pitched voice and a very strong local accent. She gives me the impression of Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl.

One of her children is included in the Play Group. He is bright, intelligent, inquisitive and loudly questions everything. He has a huge pair of startling, bright blue eyes that in a Hollywood movie would be part of the visual shorthand for the outwardly-normal-character-who-seems-friendly-enough-but-is-actually-the-Psycho-who-get-killed-horribly-in-the-final-reel.

Olive and Psycho were in the Play Group, and, when it finished, we met in the corridor. I was talking to the Webmaster, when suddenly Psycho ran up, looked up at me, pointed and said (very loudly)

"Look at all those spots!"

As the Webmaster retreated to the office, I suddenly went very self conscious and paranoid and tried to remember just how many spots I had seen in the mirror this morning. One, three, at least four....

Psycho's bright, piping voice echoed again "Look at all those little brown spots!"

Ah.

I then spent the next five minutes or so trying to explain freckles.

His already huge, clear blue eyes widened with horror as I explained how, when I was a little girl just like he is now, I ran around with no hat and no sun cream and how when I got sunburnt I got all these freckles.

"My Mommy always makes me wear SPF!" he piped, shaking his head at the horror of it all

"And this is why," I said, waggling a finger at my face, "your mummy doesn't want you getting all sunburnt and freckled, like me."

His fine skin was flawless, there wasn't a mark on him.

"You must always wear your sun cream and a hat or you'll get all freckles like me." I continued

"I'm not getting feckles! I'm not!" He was adamant

He grabbed my right hand and pulled my sleeve part way up my arm. His tiny little hands were hot against my cold skin.

"They're all over! And you're hands are cold!"

"Yep," I said, "they're all over me and my hands are fine."

"No they're not, they're all cold and spotty!"

I tried changing the subject.

"Would you like a drink of water?"

He nodded and as I went into the kitchen to get a drink of water for him, I heard him run back to his "Mommy" and loudly tell her about "all the spots on the Lady".

Olive and I exchanged smiles as I handed him a green frog footed plastic beaker with a small amount of water which he still managed to spill on the carpet.

Great, now I'm disfigured.