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.


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!"


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.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

I stayed awake!

Today, I found that there is one way to make me stay awake in meetings. Make me be the minute taker.

Yep. I'm a proper admin assistant now, I'm a minute taker.

The Admin Boss Lady was so busy, that she didn't have time to do everything, she had to loosen her grip enough to let me free up an hour in her schedule. I've taken the minutes and written them up as well.

For the most part, I'm looking at safe sites on the Interweb, looking up Sure Start and the latest news, looking for jobs on the Reed web site and waiting for the 'phone to ring so I can take messages.

Staff are so thin on the ground that they are nearly all at case conferences, out home visiting or running classes, so I have to take messages and leave them in the appropriate pigeon holes.

I have never been paid to do so little before and it's embarrassing. After the Bakery where we were running flat out all the time to surfing the Interweb between 'phone calls - it's such a contrast.

The little project that I was given on Day 1 - to update the 'phone list - is done and I am pouncing on any little job that comes my way. I'm almost embarrassed to sit here and take the money.


Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Getting there

Today hasn't been so bad.

The Admin Boss Lady has loosened her grip and let me type up meeting notes, answer the 'phone and let me get on with addressing and stuffing 790 envelopes with two newsletters and a flyer in each one.

I've got two small bruises on the back of my left hand from running over the booklet staples with my fist as I folded them in half. It took a full hour to run them through the franking machine.

It's only once a month.


Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The bathroom windows thing is still going

Dear On-line Double Glazing Parts Firm

I recently bought 4.5mm handle wedges from you on 23 February 2008.

PayPal has debited my account and I'm wondering where the wedges are - especially as I've paid enough in postage and packaging to have them sent by Special Delivery.

Can you give me an estimated day of arrival or am I going to be given the runaround about where the money actually is/PayPal are bastards/the plastic is in the post/we're out of stock.

A prompt reply will be appreciated.

Yours chippily
Button Ginger

It's all worth doing.......supposedly by me

Today, I sat and watched as the photocopier printed off 800 newsletters. As they came out of the printer, I folded them in half ready to be put into envelopes.

And I watched.

I watched as the lady giving me instructions, failed to delegate a thing and replaced printer cartridges, unloaded paper jams, filled the paper drawers, replaced the staple cartridges, answered the telephones, took messages and generally did all the stuff I was supposed to be doing as well as doing all the stuff she was supposed to be doing and all this whilst filling her face with low calorie fruit and veg snacks.

She left dead on 17:00 leaving me with the guy who interviewed me to show me how to lock up.

I mentioned all thr fruit and veg around her desk and laughed as I pointed out that as much desk space was reserved for fruit teas, low calorie hot chocolate, baby plum tomatoes, apples, pears and gum as it was reserved for work.

He became deadly serious.

The Lady Who Gives Me Orders has done remarkably well on her diet, he told me. She has had numerous problems which she is still trying to resolve and has lost over 7 stones on her WeightWatchers plan. I really shouldn't poke fun at her eating habits as her weight loss means a lot to her.

I took that as a friendly warning not to mention anything to her.

Oh goody.

I'm not the only mad bag working here.

Monday, 3 March 2008

I got a job again

I left it until the last minute to find the address of the Surestart centre on a map. It's barely in Wednesbury and almost in Walsall. The place can be accessed by one of two buses from Wednesbury bus station and it's in a very rough area.

I found it. It takes roughly an hour by tram and bus and and hour and a half by bus alone. However, there's a huge, brand new, Morrisons at the bus station and a Lidl not far from the centre. It's not exactly walking distance but I've seen worse.

The West Bromwich warehouse - that was very bleak.

The interview went well.

To paraphrase that old WWII phrase - a good job interview is one where you walk away with the job.

The interviewer was the deputy of the centre. He is extremely well spoken, not particularly fond of children but is aware that it is extremely important to look after them well and he gently took the piss out of my cv.

"Used to high pressure, deadline driven environments" - yeah, well, that's taken for granted these days and "excellent telephone manner" - I had to tell him that wasn't just my opinion.

He was, frankly, desperate to find cover for the last temp (he found a job) and for at least three women who were going on maternity leave. Although these women were "specialised" (Early Years workers and Health Visitors), they did a lot of their own paperwork which was going to get foisted onto their colleagues (as well as all the other work) if they couldn't find the admin staff to do it.

If they could find half decent Admin workers, then the remaining colleagues could take up the slack on the Early Years and Health Visiting side and someone else could do all the paperwork.


The Admin lady who was going to be giving me orders was wrapped up in the more specialised end of the Admin work with ordering, invoicing and specialist NHS and local council computer systems and was swamped already without all the data entry, typing, 'phone work and photocopying.

I had to tell him about some time off that I had booked. Next Monday afternoon I have a Doctor's appointment and the following week I need that entire week off for a trip down to London to help Dad out.

He said that was fine.

So, I start tomorrow 9am to 5pm with a 30 minute lunch break which has to be co-ordinated with the Receptionist and the Admin Boss Lady.

Woo hoo!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Trouble brewing?

Dad rang.

He's got a hospital appointment for the Western Eye Hospital on the day after St Patrick's Day. Could I go down to London and go to the hospital with him?

I told him that I could. Watching the Monday job interview fluttering away in the breeze, I told him that I could travel down on Monday (17th March) and return on Thursday (20th March) and give him a bit of help around house, if he liked.

He told me that there was no need to move in.

The Stinky Old Bat has been taken to hospital (again) after she kept collapsing. She still hasn't returned after a few weeks in hospital.

She had been receiving personal care visits, home help visits, district nursing visits when she got her insulin shots, meals on wheels visits (1 meal a day), shopping visits and, intermittently home visits from paid companions for the blind. Everyone of them had their own set of keys.

After he'd called the ambulance and got her carted off, Dad celebrated by changing the locks.

The Social Workers aren't sneaking back her in without consulting with him first.

Legally, it's a kind of limbo. She's deteriorating fast, but can maintain a chipper, chatty, lucid 'front' which fools anyone with superficial contact. Although she receives many visits a day, she refuses all but medical help and all the 'carers' spend so little time with her, that not one of them have noted anything in the logbook that sits in her front room on a lace covered side table.

She has no living next of kin in this country, no one but an old friend (a former neighbour) has access to her money and that's third party access to her current account, not the Power of Attorney status that he needs to be of any use to the situation.

We (the Button family) are not next of kin to Stinky Old Bat and we have a vested financial interest in having her removed from the house.

It's worth more with her gone from there.

No one from Social Services is inclined to believe that we have anything but a financial motive when we say that she needs 24hr nursing care in a dedicated home, hospice or hospital.

It's safe to say that Dad has been waiting for this for over 30 years.

All good thing come to those who wait, I suppose, but what's worrying me is that the house is a verminous wreck and Dad is clearly very hopeful of getting 'top dollar' for it just as house prices are turning down.

And what's gone so wrong with his relationship with the two younger brothers that he's asking me to travel to London to accompany him to a hospital out-patients appointment?

He doesn't have a good or kind word to say about anybody - the GP I had him registered to doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about - MwK is doing the job Dad has had to abandon and he can't do a stroke without Dad effing and blinding about how shoddy the work is and how he's doing it all wrong - YMB doesn't know his arse from his elbow and never visits even though he only lives down the road - even Dad's surviving sister and her children get abuse - how she keeps interfering, how they were raised, their choices of partners ..... and on and on and on.

What's gone so wrong?

Whether I like it or not, I'm going to find out.