Monday, 30 November 2009

OMG! YEAH! WOO!

The interview was in a building on the site.

I knew where the site was and I'd been to where the building was.

What I didn't know was that the suite I was looking for was two floors up.

So I was a teensy bit late for the interview.

I walked in to find two women sitting at a large conference table, one of whom was holding a mobile 'phone.

She put it down and told me that she was just about to call me to find out where I was.

Oh now that's a GREAT start for making a good impression.

We shook hands. Both of them commented on my very cold hands. Both asked me if I was all right and both asked if I was sure I didn't want a hot drink.

There was one of those coffee machines in the corner with the little pop open sachets and the thin plastic cups which burn your hands without a cup holder. I could see no cup holders. The drinks are not very nice and so hot that I would probably have spent the next half an hour waiting for it to cool down.

Having made a very bad first impression, I didn't want the interviewers' lasting memory of me as "that freezing, fat, redhead who showed up late and who didn't drink the coffee we gave her".

I turned down the offer and I tried to assure them that I was fine, but neither of them looked convinced.

I started to wonder if I shouldn't just give up now.

Aside: Yes, okay. I have a mild case of Raynaud's Syndrome. It's the mild, primary form. Yes, some poor creatures have to have hospital treatment and have their fingers and toes removed, but I'm not one of them.

It's a very common ailment and shouldn't be much of a talking point. My hands are cold, I'm not dying of hypothermia. It's irritating when people make a fuss of something so minor, embarrassing when I'm trying to be at my best and an apparent career killer at job interviews.

I can scare (or irritate) people when I do my impression of "the icy fingers of Death" up the back of their necks and if I had to have regular contact with people I would be worried, but as I'm not applying for such roles it's not (or, it shouldn't be) an issue.

However, it clearly is.

I sat down, with the pair of them opposite, neither of them looking too sure about me at all.

And we began.

During the interview they explained how the post works, what it would entail, what the training would consist of (trips to Stafford, mainly), where they're based (the White House(!)) and what they did.

I impressed them with my reading around the subject, the fact I had dry ran the trip to the place, was keen to get started (oh yes, definitely!) and seemed to be a bit brighter than I first appeared.

Aside: I'm really going to have to do something quite radical about my appearance. I surprise people by stringing words together sometimes. I really must appear quite retarded.

Yes.....I know......the nouns fat and stupid tend to go hand in hand. I'm going to have to do something to counter the apparent first impression people get that my IQ is somewhere in the "Two Short Planks" region.

That probably means losing weight. About 5 stones worth. I know. I know. I know.

They asked me what I thought the job would entail - after they had told me what happens

What I wanted from a career - money, mainly. I didn't say that though. I said I wanted to learn and progress and do something useful

Would I have a problem working in a place like this? - Nope. I've worked in a place like this before, have worked alongside the customers and have some general idea about the terminology

And so on. It was a fairly standard Q&A session.

They wrapped up with the usual "don't call us, we'll call yous" and we shook hands again to say goodbye. My hands still hadn't warmed up and they didn't look happy about touching me at all.

At the bus stop, waiting for the 529 back, I switched my 'phone back on.

There was 1 MISSED CALL AT 10:01. 1 UNKNOWN NUMBER.

I was a minute late. Terrific.

I went home convinced that I wasn't going to hear from them again and started applying for another job.

64. Administrative Assistant.

I answered the home 'phone at 4:30pm and had to restrain myself from screaming when I heard one of the interviewers tell me that I was provisionally being offered the job.

There would be written confirmation of the provisional offer and the offer was subject to references and an Occupational Health examination but the job was provisionally mine to be taken up at some point early in the New Year.

Great. I've been there before.

I'll keep applying for other jobs. Just in case.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Yup

I am thoroughly fed up.

I have heard nothing from any of the jobs I've applied for and I'm just waiting to go to the one I've been invited to.

Well, I've been. As well as looking up the work of the team, I've been to see where it is and how to get there.

Jeepers!

Under no circumstances am I taking the 333 bus from Wolverhampton again. It takes a circuitous route through Portobello, Willenhall, Lodge Farm and back through Rough Hay and Darlaston and finally to Walsall.

If I tell you that Darlaston is on the way from Wolverhampton to Wednesbury and the 79 can get there in less than half an hour, then you'll understand that taking nearly 90 minutes to get from Wolverhampton to Darlaston is pretty unimpressive.

I found the place in the pitch black and walked through the wrong gate.

It's undergoing major building works. The original building is now surrounded by dozens of temporary and permanent buildings and negotiating between them is a hairy business at the best of times.

Now add scaffolding and great, solid sheets of corrugated security barriers. All painted royal blue.

The scaffolding and barriers created a maze effect as I walked between the buildings. At one stage, there were a number of people walking behind me. We could only helplessly walk, single file, down dark corridors and around blind corners, stuck between a great blue metal wall on one side and various walls and fences on the other.

Very poorly lit and with virtually no signs, in the cold, the dark and the drizzle, it was crazy. If you're in any way claustrophobic, forget it.

I passed a set of Portakabins stacked in a pile - grandiosely called "The White House".

And then, 10 minutes later, we all popped out the other end of the maze. We came out by another gate where cars were queueing up to get in and out via a series of barriers.

I checked. We were no more than 20 yards from the gate I had first entered before the maze.

Oh good grief.

I had a second run today. A little bit more successful. The 529 bus from Wolverhampton takes less than 45 minutes and stops near the hospital without going into Walsall town centre itself.

It still took a good few minutes to find the building where the interview would be held.

There's a very strange arrangement at the gate where the cars pass. A series of lanes with barriers some with paving for pedestrians and most without (so you're left looking both ways for traffic at some and just one way for others) and there's a small terrace of houses lining one side of the drive. With cars appearing from between the houses.

The front doors are numbered (like houses) but some doors have small signs with offical titles on them suggesting that at least some of the little houses are offices.

The site is a huge sprawl of different buildings with no apparent rhyme or reason to the plan. Very strange.

Still beggars can't be choosers, if they offer me a job here, then I'll have to take it.

Friday, 27 November 2009

And continues....

63. Pharmacy Assistant Dispensing Officer

Thursday, 26 November 2009

And the search continues....

62. Pharmacy Assistant Technical Officer

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nearly there

The interview went very well.

There was just one bus to get from Wolverhampton Bus Station and it stopped just outside the gates to the site I needed to get to.

It only rained whilst I was on the bus and my new large handbag was just the right size for an A4 envelope holding all my ID and copies of my unfolded CV.

The building was easy to find, the instructions I was given were very clear and easy to follow and I arrived early.

I was shown up to a first floor conference room, where I was interviewed by two people.

I did everything I was supposed to. Smiled, made eye contact, ensured my hands weren't too damp or cold for any handshake, smiled, answered every question carefully and smiled.

As the girl from Reed said when she gave me the rejection, I had only just been shaded by another candidate who had had a little more complaints experience.

They liked me, they really did, but there was another candidate who was a little more experienced. There was nothing more I could have done in the interview to make them hire me.

Great. If I treat this as practice for the next interview, then I might just get that job.

60. Night shift Pharmaceutical Technician Elstree

61. Analytical Chemist

and nothing from Heartlands.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Still waiting to hear from Heartlands..........

57. Laboratory Support Worker

58. HMLO - Stafford


I received a call from Reed. There is another ongoing temporary job in Kingswinford at NPower, and they've suceeded in getting me an interview.

It was this bunch who rejected me before (sight unseen) as the manager thought the work would be too mundane for me.

Anyway, there was another position and this time, the manager wanted to have a look at me.

11:30 tomorrow.

Yep. Fine. I'll be there.

59. Medical Laboratory Assistant, Haemophilia Unit, Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The novelty has definitely worn off now........

After a pretty poor weekend down with Dad (the house is a tip, Dad won't wash fully as he doesn't like showers and can't get in or out of the bath anymore and trying to get him to eat and take his fistfuls of tablets is getting harder and harder), I called Walsall Manor.

I made an interview appointment for 10am on 30th november 2009 and thanked whoever it was profusely for it. There would be a letter in the post confirming the arrangement.

Then I went to sign on.

I was called up and sat down in front of a bright, blonde who asked me how I was getting on.

I told her about the interview date and she was very pleased for me. I told her I was very fed up and hoped to find work soon.

Yes, she said, most people find the novelty wears off about now and reality kicks in. Still, it's only a matter of time before you find something, so you don't have to worry.

I sat and smiled as I signed under my exemplar signature and walked away before I said something that could get me thrown out by Security.

NOVELTY? NO. VEL. TEE?

What planet has she been on, lately?

I don't have to worry?

Eh?

In these days of recession, mass redundancy and job insecurity, it's good to know that the Job Centres are employing the very best and most understanding staff.

Not.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Still waiting for Heartlands,but get this, better late than never

On 20-NOV-09 X Hospitals NHS Trust said:

Job Application

NHS_Jobs_ID Message 407-JB1384

Further to your recent application regarding the appointment, I am pleased to advise that you have been shortlisted for an interview: Interview Date: Monday 30/11/2009 Interview Location: Seminar Room in Xxxxxxxx Interview Format: Approx 30 minutes I would be grateful if you could contact me to confirm your attendance and to book and interview slot as soon as possible on 01922 xxxxxx ext xxxx; should you not contact us prior to the interview date, we will assume that you no longer wish to continue with your application. Please note that a letter with these details will also be sent to your home address with additional information. Xxxxx Xxxxx - Xxxxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx (01922 xxxxxx X xxxx) ** THIS EMAIL IS GENERATED FROM AN UNMANNED MAILBOX. WE ARE UNABLE TO RESPOND TO ANY REPLIES TO THIS MESSAGE. *

Terrific.

I called the number, but got an ansaphone. I tried calling the place and getting through to the Recruitment/HR Section to be told that the name given in the automatic e-mail didn't work there anymore.

I called the number and the extension again, and left a message saying that I would call first thing on Monday.

Slight thing, dear reader, I applied for this job on 24 September. I'm not going to hold my breath on this one. Especially as someone who doesn't work there anymore seems to be dictating recruitment.

I could do without the surreal and weird, at the moment.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Still waiting.......

........and not hopeful. It's just good to be able to draw a line under an episode.

54. Corporate Team Support Officer - Key Team

55. Office Administrator

56. Clerical Administrator

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Still waiting......

......53. Clinical Administrator - Ealing, West London.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

And so I switch on my computer and.........

.............apply for position number 52.

There's a schedule for television programmes, radio shows and so on.

7:30am - 12pm BBC Radio 2

12pm onwards BBC Radio 1

After job search and job applications I switch over to 'fun'. Catching up with the blogs I follow and the television I miss.

Fast Forward, The Thick of It, Have I Got News For You, Wallander, Spiral, Grime Fighters, Sanctuary, CSI:Miami amongst others.

Laundry, tidying up and putting the bins out on Monday nights for collection on Tuesday. The paper box goes out every other week.

It's a routine, I suppose.

It's not like I can go out and go shopping.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Waiting.........

51. Medical Laboratory Assistant St George's Hospital Tooting.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Still waiting to hear from Heartlands.............

And to pass the time job application 48, 49 and 50.

I'm applying for jobs in London through the various websites. If the money's right I can live in London, stay with my increasingly doddery Dad and visit my pitiful little building site on the weekends.

Night Shift Cord Bank Blood Technician NHSBS in Colindale

Laboratory Technician at Highgate Brewery in Walsall

and

Band 2 ATO Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore.

I can only live in hope.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Still waiting to hear from Heartlands.......

Job applications 46 and 47 in the meantime.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

What did I tell you?

I switched on my computer this afternoon and found a rejection e-mail from ORR. It was the usual flannel.

".........standard of candidates was extremely high......", "...............thank you for applying............", "......unfortunately, on this occasion..............".

I was expecting it.

I went out after applying for the 45th job and came back to an ansaphone message telling me to contact Selly Oak asap.

I arrived home at 17:25 and the message had been left less than half an hour before.

I made a brief calculation. I had been called towards the end of the day. The most successful candidate would have been the first to have been called, so that made me pretty much the most unsuccessful candidate they had. Or the least successful.

Either way, I knew I hadn't got the job. And SURPRISE! I got their ansaphone when I called back at 17:30.

They were in no hurry to get a reply from me.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Trains, trains, buses and trains

I woke up and listened carefully to the local weather news. Dry. Cold and dry.

Thank God. Thursday had been wet and I had struggled to move around the building with a bag, coat, two VISITOR badges, all my documents in an A4 wallet AND a wet umbrella. Dry meant one less thing to worry about.

I used the last of the money from the ADF to pay for a One Day Travel Card. As I had previously bought an off peak DayTripper ticket for the last interview on Thursday, this meant that I had £1.10 left.

I brought it with me as I went to sign on earlier than usual.

I was left waiting as the 'Sign On Early Because of Special Circumstances' Guy had gone on his break.

When he came back, I explained that I had money left over, showed him the receipts and he set about trying to return it.

This was after some major kerfuffle which included an interview about job hunting and his congratulations on getting a job interview. When I told him that it was actually two interviews he nearly exploded with pleasure, as if he'd had something to do with it.

He found my signing on booklet, witnessed my signature and we went to the Cash Office hatch to return the £1.10.

This involved a form which had to be signed by me and him, witnessed by the cashier and having the receipts stapled to it.

Blimey. I had hoped someone would say I could keep it as it was such a small amount of money, but no.

Train to Birmingham and then a trip to the Centro office to work out the fastest way to Selly Oak.

Another train.

Now. Selly Oak Hospital is a huge sprawl of a place on the outskirts of Bournville Village. It is not close to any transport links to speak of. No bus passes outside its gates and the train is not on the doorstep.

The outer edges of Selly Oak Hospital are a 20 minute uphill hike from the train station and the site is so huge that it could be another 20 or 30 minutes before you've wound your way around the site and started seeing sign posts to where you need to get to.

Adding to the finding-your-way-around nightmare, Selly Oak has a special wing for injured soldiers so there's a lot of security in place and an awful lot of NO ACCESS BEYOND THIS POINT notices.

That helped.

The interview was in what was referred to in the invitation letter as the A+E Seminar Room. That meant finding A+E, walking past sick people in beds and on trolleys in the corridors and trying to find a seminar room. Which from the name "Seminar Room" I took to mean a large boardroom type place.

I walked past it twice.

It was a tiny cupboard of an office, labelled Police Interview Room and had a handwritten notice INTERVIEWS IN PROGRESS blutacked to the door under the window.

I was slightly late so I knocked, opened the door, introduced myself, apologised for getting lost and the interview began.

Did I have any trouble getting there?

The job would start in Selly Oak but would move to the brand new site that I passed on the train to Selly Oak.

What would be the problems with interviewing and surveying stroke patients?

What experience did I have with clerical work and data entry?

Would I be willing to train and gain relevant qualifications?

And so on. It was a fairly lacklustre, nothing special, Q&A session.

As we said goodbye at the end and the door was opened for me to leave, I bumped into a woman even shorter and fatter than me.

Her neck was so short that it looked as if her shoulders were hunched around her ears. Her face looked as if it had a major battle staying clear of the swathes of scarf which went around her neck in thick coils, piled up around the back of her head and over her ears. She had thick bottle bottom glasses, badly dyed hair and a tight perm. She looked old enough to be my mother.

She was one of the opposition AND she'd arrived early.

Swot.

I smiled at everybody, thanked the interviewers for inviting me and was on my way with a solid feeling that I wasn't going to get that one.

There was a twenty minute hike back to Selly Oak Station in my interview shoes which were beginning to hurt and around a 20 minute wait for the train back to Birmingham New Street.

Once at New Street, I had to find Heartlands Hospital.

Back to the Centro office where I found that the nearest train station wasn't as close as the nearest bus stop.

I needed the 97. Which I could catch from stop MF on Moor Street Queensway. So that was a brisk walk out of the station, towards the bullring, along St Martins Circus Queensway, past the bullring, under the bullring bridge, towards Moor Street Queensway, past the alighting stop only for the 97 (irritating, as two buses went past as I was walking to the bus stop), past Birmingham Moor Street Train Station, past the Pavilions Shopping Centre, across Carrs Lane, past Carrs Lane United Reform Church and on down to the Saint Michaels' Catholic Church. Where, after waving goodbye to two buses on the way down there, I had to wait another half an hour in the freezing cold for the next one.

Terrrrrrrrrific.

I had a nnetwork card which meant I didn't have to wait for a TWM bus to arrive. It was just as well. A Central Connect bus showed up and drove through Bordesley Green towards Alum Rock. Getting stuck in traffic and at red lights all the way. The West Indian driver was super friendly, seemed to know everyone and stopped to chat to people as well.

We got there.




Eventually.

Unlike Selly Oak, the bus stops just across the road from the hospital. Heartlands is a slightly more modern sprawl than Selly Oak, but it is still a huge site; it's the size of a small town. Just how big this place was, was brought home to me when I asked for directions to the lab from Reception.

The lady behind the desk gave me a small A5 size laminated card with complex directions printed on it about how to get there.

They made little sense until I got outside and found the first path the instructions mentioned. It was like following the yellow brick road.

I found the lab and was early. I signed in and waited. A woman was waiting in the same room and didn't seem to be listening for her name. It soon turned out she wasn't at all.

A young woman, the older woman's daughter, it turns out, was shown through a door into the waiting area and they started breathlessly and quite nervously, chatting to each other about how the girl's interview went and did she think she was going to get the job.

She seemed to be relieved to be out of there. The girl (shiny, straight black hair with standard, shiny, black, interview suit) eyed me up and told her mum that she'd talk about it in the car.

Smart girl.

It was my turn. Still in my outdoor coat, I was offered a Tyvek lab coat. When I hesitated, the woman showing me round told me not to worry, I could put the paper coat over my own. Niiiiiiiiiice.

I was shown round the usual sort of thing. Lino tiles on the floor (Microbiology/biology labs must be moppable), lots of varnished wood, no windows in the corridors and some labs were NO ENTRY TO UNAUTHORISED PERSONNEL so she just pointed through the glass in the doors, as I tiptoed to get a peek.

When the time came for the interview itself, she took the coat off me and wished me luck.

I needed it.

There were three of them and me around a small square table. It was pretty intimidating. Again, it was the usual Q&A session. And unusually aggressive.

Why did I apply for the job?

What did I hope to achieve?

What did I think I was going to do here?

It soon became apparent that at least two of them (all three were men) seemed to have doubts about how someone with my background was going to fit into a humdrum routine working life like theirs.

Well, the same way I fitted into the humdrum, routine, working life everywhere else, I suppose.

They didn't seem satisfied. And then I knew I wasn't going to get this job, even though it was perfect.

I handed over all my documents for photocopying, as I was lead into another room for a series of tests.

First. Could I copy type this sheet onto this blank Word document that was open on the computer screen.

I've only spent two years typing at keyboards as a temp. I think I could manage something.

The next was a series of fake swabs and blood samples and a list. Could I match the list with the samples and note any discrepancies?

I had 10 minutes to do the test. I could get 10 out of 10 if I could get all the discrepancies within 6 minutes. I lost marks for every minute over 6 minutes, so that if I took all 10 minutes, the maximum mark would be 6.

Eh?

As it was clear from the interview that I wasn't going to get the job, I thought I'd just go for accuracy. Sod the 6 minutes rule.

I'm pretty sure I got all of them.

I got my documents back after the test, got all my things together and and put my coat on back in the Reception area. I signed out and went back to the Hospital Reception where I handed in the instruction card and had something to eat.

It was dark outside. I hadn't eaten anything all day and my mouth was pretty dry as well. The food was the usual, miserable, hospital, mass catering, fare. Fluffy, papery chips, a sausage which had so little meat content that it could have qualified as vegetarian and a bottle of Diet Coke.

The long march uphill to the bus stop was cold. There were dozens of people all waiting for the same bus. When it finally came, there was a big scrum to get on. It was dark and the windows had misted up so there was nothing much to look at as the bus trailed through the streets back to the bullring.

I realised I had wasted the entire day. I wasn't going to get either job. Despite the fake cheeriness, the smart clothes, the make up, the reading around the subjects - Nope. Dead loss.

I did wonder why I'd been called for interview. Why bother calling me if you were worried about whether or not I'd be bored because the work was below my level of expertise?

I caught the train to Wolverhampton and got the bus from Wolverhampton bus station to the chip shop on Vicarage Road and trudged home the rest of the way.

One of my shoes was making a clicking sound as I walked. As soon as I got home, I took the shoes off and saw that one heel (right) had almost worn through. Great. more expense.

After checking my emails, I got off the chair to set about getting ready for bed. Only to find myself sticking to the chair.

A great big gob of white chewing gum was stuck to my smart, black, interview trousers and was now adhering to the chair.

Brilliant. WD40 for the chair and the trousers and a long wash overnight.

I hope that was from the last bus home. If that had been there for the interviews, that would have been embarrassing.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Waiting

The strikes are over at the Royal Mail and I received a text message from Primetime.

"Good morning all, unfortunately i have just been informed that ALL shifts have been cancelled at royal mail,wolverhampton this weekend. At present, there are NO temporary staff required on site from friday - monday. As soon as we have any more information, we will let you know asap. Sorry this is only a text message to let you know, but i must contact approximately 100 people asap to let them know. Thank you, primetime"

Well. Great. There may be no work this Christmas then, as all the striking workers are probably signing up for all the overtime they can manage to fit in.

I received a 'phone call from Heartlands asking me if I was still going to the interview on Monday. Try and stop me.

I trawled all the usual internet sites and found one job worth applying for. And applied for it.

43 jobs and counting.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

First isn't always good

Yep. As I thought. Absolute disaster. I arrived at Reception to sign in and received a little VISITOR badge which I clipped to my blouse collar.

The lifts were a little bit special. The panel to call the lifts looked as if it should have been inside one of the carriages. Instead of just calling the lift, I pushed the button which corresponded to the floor I wanted to go to. The computer then did a little calculation and, as efficiently as possible, sent the most suitable lift down to the Ground Floor.

Once I got to the 6th Floor, I had to sign in at Reception and received a second VISITOR badge. It took a little while for me to clip and re-clip the two badges to my blouse and coat collars so that I didn't look like I was trying to balance and match them.

There then followed a walk to the next floor to do one of the tests. I was left in an office for half an hour with a sheaf of papers and instructions on what to do with them. It was meant to be a series of 'phone messages, emails and messages and a To Do list with a diary.

How was I going to fit all the work into the diary? Who was I going to call first? What was I going to do about the woman calling in sick? When was I going to schedule the research into that project? When was I going to reschedule lunch for the colleague who wanted to talk about work with the sick woman?

I thought I had got everything sussed when I realised (with about 10 minutes to go) that the sheets were printed on both sides. I'm missed about half the work.

Needless to say, I didn't finish the test. It was horrible.

The first interview of the first day of the series is never going to be good. It wasn't good.

One of the guys was late. He was almost as unprepared as I was and it was awkward and stilted throughout the half hour "informal chat".

As I left, there was another girl waiting in the Reception area. She was slim, tanned, pinstriped and had big, bouncy, glossy brown hair which appeared to have a life of its own.

She certainly looked more 'with it' than I did.

I went to Solihull. I had a One Day Travelcard and I was going to use it. I went to John Lewis and bought some darning wool for my favourite gloves which are starting to look very worn.

It was bright but very cold and I quickly went home again after I had browsed the area and had some lunch courtesy of Boots and the points on my Advantage card.

After I got home, I logged onto the NHS website to find that two jobs which I had put in my Jobs Basket had prematurely expired due to the sheer number of applicants.

Not good. Not a good day at all.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Oh dear

Today, I filled in two more application forms (42 jobs and counting), I've set up search strings so that the NHS website will tell me about jobs.

I prepared for my interview tomorrow by logging on to the website and freaking out at all the information.

The job is Team Administrator LNW (S).

Nope. No idea.

And will the website let me see what I wrote?

Nope. The entire online form disappeared into the electronic ether as soon as I pressed "SUBMIT".

Brilliant.

I went to get my haircut today as well. I've got to save the pennies so it was the College Salon.

The very young sulky faced girl was very unsure of herself and very hesitant. She partitioned off the back of my head did a few snips and then called the Supervisor over.

The Supervisor finished graduating into the nape of my neck and showed her little protege how to avoid the side "horns" that would have grown around the sides. The Supervisor left us to it after criticising the state of the scissors.

Then Student started on the sides. Without starting a central guide, she set about cutting the left side of my head. Again, very hesitantly.

She called the Supervisor over again. The Supervisor started off at the centre and couldn't see where the girl had started from.

She was very rough with the comb and painfully scraped it over my ear repeatedly. Again, the Supervisor graduated the cut and tapered it off down my left side.

She left us again, warning the girl to remember the head dips down at the front and my hair was very heavy down there.

This happened over and over again. Young girl making a few desultory cuts and calling the Supervisor over. Supervisor finishing the cutting and walking away instead of standing over the girl.

ONE AND A HALF HOURS after I came in for a quick wash, cut and blow dry, the student was blow drying my hair. Again, very hesitantly.

She was using a slim ,round, spiky brush to style my hair under the dryer and by the time she finished, I looked like Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber. It was a total pudding bowl job.

I paid the £15 and hoped the wind and the rain would do something flattering.

By the time I got home and my hair had dried, I was starting to look like the strange, red haired woman trying to be Miranda, from the Dulcoease ad trying to look like Sex and the City.

With some styling wax, I could see what the Supervisor was aiming at. A kind of short elfin cut.

Kind of.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A productive sort of day. In a hermit sort of fashion

Today I tortured myself with four online application forms including the one for a Clerical Officer with Wolverhampton Council I discussed with Julie at the Jobcentre.

That's 40 applications in total so far.

I really, really need to get out more. I haven't said a word to anyone today.

That can't be good.

Monday, 2 November 2009

I got it

I got the £12.80 to go to Birmingham.

I spoke to a very nice girl who saw email proof of the interviews and proof of my entitlement to benefits.

When you're unemployed, the first thing you have to get used to is carrying all the paperwork of your life around with you. Documents that only see the light of day once in a blue moon are routinely taken off you to be photocopied and handed back every which way.

Photo ID (Passport or Driving Licence), proof of address (bank statements or bills), proof of entitlement (Job Seekers booklet), proof of National Insurance Number (NI Card, P60 or tax documents) - all stuff that normally gets tucked away in a lockable box safely at home gets waved around in public buildings, in front of the kind of people who would give their eye teeth to lay hands on someone elses' identity for various nefarious purposes.

It's embarrassing.

It was lunch time and her computer was v e e e e e e e e e r y y y y y y s l o o o o o o o o w. She needed to check online to see what the prices were.

Anyway, she found out. Eventually. The price list I'd picked up from the bus station wasn't enough. She had to check for herself.

£6.30 return from Wolverhampton to Birmingham by train and £6.50 for a one day nnetwork card for Monday when I have to sign on, travel to Selly Oak and then hoof it across the Birmingham suburbs to Heartlands.

That'll be fun.

She totted up the total and ran downstairs to the cash office for me. Leaving me with a desk full of leaflets

Staying Mentally Healthy Following Redundancy

"Wake Up To Local Learning In Your Community"

Are you worried about your mortgage? Get advice now

Inspire Your magazine from Jobcentre Plus Summer 2009

I was quite grateful when she came back with exactly £6.30 and £6.50. Her desk was pretty depressing.

When I pay for the tickets, I've got to keep the receipts, so that they can be stapled to the form that's waiting for them with my signing in sheet, in the signing in box.

Yep. Got that.

I visited the recruitment agencies to remind them I'm still breathing. Yep. They're all looking out for me and as soon as something comes in, they'll let me know. Every one of them.

I went into Interecruitment and got an email address from Julie. I've sent her my CV so if something comes in she'll let me know.

Great.