Back to work

Alarmed, I open gluey eyes
to see the darkness still hangs low
toe by toe then limb by heavy limb
I crawl from cosy warmth
and sit and scratch and stretch and yawn
then drag droopily
down the stairs in slippered feet
to where the kitchen kettle boils
and the radio plays
and all the world seems ready for the day
Except me


The world’s a stage

When I was about seven or eight, to ‘entertain’ our family, my sister would play the piano and I would ‘sing’ along in my  out of tune reedy little voice (it hasn’t changed all that much over the years I have to admit).  It started with some fairly standard piano lesson like songs,’The Pipes of Pan’ being a particular favourite of mine (I could sing it to you now if you like…Oh, the pipes the pipes of pan…), but as her playing and taste in music progressed we moved on to Elvis.  Most memorably, Are you Lonesome Tonight’.  My favourite bit was the spoken verse, which I would solemnly recite while my sister tinkled the ivories.  It started ‘Someone said the world’s a stage and each must play a part…’ (by the way Elvis, if you’re listening up there, it was Shakespeare who wrote that line, in As you like it).  It sparked my imagination even then to think we were all ‘playing a part’, and over the years it has become apparent to me that this is true, though we don’t play the same part all the time.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean we’re all pretending to be someone, or something, we’re not. Mind you, I bet we all behave differently at an interview than we do down the pub, but what I’ve really noticed is how we all feel the need to dress differently for different circumstances – wear costumes.

These days I pretty much live in jeans and tee shirt (all right girls, I’ll admit to jeggings if I must – well, they’re comfy, what can I say?) but back in the days of spending my time at the office, I’d always wear something ‘smart’. Not necessarily a suit, they were reserved for meetings, but certainly a jumper and skirt with heels, and this was even when I was working in the office on my own.  It was about feeling the part, feeling professional.  Still the same me inside, but I was definitely putting a ‘face on’, even make up, to perform my role.

Last weekend we were invited to a Celidh being held for a friends 60th birthday.  We don’t go to parties that often and I wanted to dress up a bit, look as nice as I could manage. As we would be dancing about, I put on some slightly posher jeans and a nice chiffon blouse ( the black one with stars on since you ask), and finished them off with some high heels, I felt good, but looking in the mirror with a critical eye I could see that I looked a bit, well, overdressed. There is clearly something instinctive about what to wear in any particular social setting.  As it happens I changed into a plain black tee shirt which turned out to be exactly the right thing to do.  To be honest I would have felt a bit of a trollop in my low cut blouse dancing about with all the other middle-aged, middle-classed conservatively dressed Celidh comrades, even though I have worn that outfit several times for sedate dinners in beautiful restaurants and felt a million dollars.

Yesterday I went to the hairdressers, one I’d not been to before. It was a bit chilly and I reached for my raincoat before setting off.  This is the raincoat that I regularly wear to the shops, or pretty much anywhere.  It is looking slightly the worse for wear these days and for some reason I felt that tatty old raincoat lady wasn’t the impression I really want to give, so I pulled on my posh wool ‘funeral’ coat.  I’m probably doing the lovely hairdresser a huge injustice, but looking that little bit smarter made me feel that somehow I would get better service, that they would take my overgrown mop of hair to be a sign of rich eccentricity rather than lazy couldn’t-be-arsed.

On close examination of my inner self, I find this phenomenon to be, at it’s roots, a class and power thing.  Looking smart equates to having more money. Having more money equates to being more powerful.  And in our perverse minds we often equate power with intelligence. Blokes in suits are perceived to have decent, well remunerated, jobs, whilst chaps in grubby torn jeans and hoodies are more likely to be viewed with suspicion, even though the former might be a drug dealer and the latter a working-all-hours to feed the family labourer.  Of course, we shouldn’t forget that many, many, too many, people don’t have the luxury of being able to choose what to wear anyway.

Whilst keeping my own unique style (!), I do like to feel ‘right’.  I’m going off for my weekly swim shortly and I’ll be wearing jogging bottoms that have never jogged, and a sweatshirt that’s never been sweated in.  But this is my ‘I belong here’ costume for the leisure centre. Tomorrow I’m off to a meeting at the town hall, and I’ll be dusting off my work costume to big up my confidence.  I may not be rich, powerful, or intelligent, but by god, I’ll look the part!

The best laid plans

Apologies to my armies of fans who are waiting on tenterhooks for my next words of wisdom.

Ok, though I do like to kid myself occasionally, I know I neither have armies of fans nor words of wisdom to divulge. But I do owe apologies, at the very least to myself, that I’ve been a bit tardy in writing on here lately.

You may remember, that this blog was supposed to be about my life as a newly freed-from-employment lady. When I left my job I had three and a half months of glorious freedom that I could write about, and I promised myself I would post at least once a week.

Then I picked up a couple of little contracts working from home, which have taking over my life a bit recently. Not that I’ve minded. I’ve met some lovely new people, both real, and twitter folk, surprised myself by writing about fashion accessories (like I know…), and had fun building databases, and finding IT solutions for stuff – what can I say, I am a geek.

Now though, it’s all slowing down. My little social media contract has come to an end, and I’m down from three to just one day a week for the other one. Slowly, I’m beginning to get used to having a bit more time again. It’s great. But I have to agree with the old cliche, I don’t know how I had the time to work.

I will never be a fantastic housekeeper, cleaning is soul destroying – you do it and five minutes later the dog has walked across the newly hoovered carpet with paws that have come directly from digging through to Australia (only a little bit of an exaggeration I assure you), but anyhow, my home has never been cleaner. I’m tidying and polishing, chucking stuff away willy nilly, and generally going all housewiferly. Who’da thought?

I’ve also got into sewing, not only making cushions, clothes, and tablecloths, but cross-stitching and crocheting too. My tidy home is being taken over by craft paraphanalia. As with all things, I’m a bit rubbish at all those things – far too impatient, but I’m learning and enjoying, and feel as if I’m growing a bit too. And it does tear me away from my beloved laptop, which is probably a good thing, as I could easily spend all day, everyday, sitting tapping away in a little imaginary world of my own, which I realise probably wouldn’t be at all healthy.

Of course that doesn’t mean I’ve given up writing all together, but just been busy doing other stuff lately.

Like volunteering. I applied to the local hospice as soon as I left work, I thought it would get me out of the house, and working in a team, all that sort of stuff, as well as helping me to be a useful member of society. Well, they didn’t have a permanent regular position open, so I’ve been doing odds and ends of admin for them. Now, guess what? I’ve got a project going for them. I’m working from home. Building a database. And a spreadsheet. On my laptop. Hey ho…

p.s. No, I’ve not been gardening. Our lovely patch is awash with weeds as it waits to have its makeover. And that’s another story…!

Busy doing nothing

‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’

John Lennon wrote these words in his song ‘Beautiful Boy’ and of course, he’s absolutely right.

I’ve got myself a bit of a new job.  Just getting into it, so can’t yet comment on whether it is completely tedious, wonderful, or just meh.  What is, however, immediately apparent, is that I will be expected to attend some meetings.

Meetings are a fact of working life these days.  In my experience most meetings consist of people talking the talk, usually in circles, for hours on end, making a few wishy washy decisions, going home in gungho mood, and then forgetting the whole thing.  In reality nothing much gets achieved apart from a bit of back slapping, bit of naval gazing, bit of ‘thinking outside the box’, and perhaps a bit of ‘horizon scanning’. Could all  be done by email or telephone conference, would save me the two hour trek to London on the smelly train and then back again on the even smellier, rush hour, train.

Of course, there is the lunch.  Usually some curly sandwiches with unidentifiable fillings. Sometimes there is fresh fruit.  Which would be great if I were not such a messy eater who always, always, gets juice down her chin, on her top, on her papers. Worse still… sticky fingers on my ipad. So no, I don’t bother with the fruit.

While I’m on the subject of lunches at meetings, I should mention the horror that is the ‘standing up buffet’ that you get at conferences.

So it’s a hot lunch, usually ‘coronation chicken’ (or ‘sicky gloop’ which is my far more accurate name for it), rice, and a bit of limp salad. You are left holding a plate, your knife and fork, and a glass of cheap wine.  There is nowhere, nowhere, to sit, and you are supposed to be ‘networking’ with what might be important contacts.  How the hell are you supposed to eat without spilling something. Beats me. Sauce drips down your chin, you chase individual bits of rice around the plate until they fall over the edge on to the floor, the wine slops out of the glass, and It really is quite amazing how far a cherry tomato can travel when its mis-forked.

So anyway, back to my original beef.  Meetings.  How much more could we get done if we didn’t have meetings to attend.    Half the time, we are all so busy meeting up that there is no time to do the real work. We end up ploughing through emails in the evening, and catching up on paperwork at the weekends, leaving us no time for living our real lives.  You know, the one that we go to work to pay for.

So John if you’re listening,  these days perhaps the words to your song should be – Life is what happens to you while you’re busy being stuck in meetings.  That’s very sad don’t you think?



I’ve gone all work shy

Hmmm…I’ve got an offer of work.  Oh blow.  Of course, this is good. It means some dosh coming in, it means I can go back to spending normally instead of keeping checks on my purse all the time.  It means I’ll be intellectually challenged again.  I won’t have to tick ‘housewife’ on forms again (I’m surprised at how much I loath that term) and  I can work from home.  Its only three days a week.  Perfect!


I know I only stopped working three months ago, but really, I’m out of that mindset now.  I like jogging through my day, deciding what to do on the spur of the moment.  For instance, this afternoon I took the dog for a nice run round the playing field, came home checked a few emails, thought I’d get the bedrooms ready for the Christmas visitors, took one look and changed my mind and went and made some bread instead.  It’s great.  I am master of my own destiny.  I feel strangely fulfilled. Work is going to interfere with all that.  I’m going to have structure my day’s and everything.  I’ll have to be nice to people I don’t particularly like again. Oh blow.

Of course, I’m going to say yes, it would be stupid not to.  I’m hoping that I’m still going to find the time and inclination to blog, even if its only to have a moan (what are friends for?), and with any luck I’ll still be able to take control of my workload – one of the most important factors when it comes to job satisfaction I’m told.

Oh well, It’s not quite confirmed yet, so for the time being, I can carry on rebooting, and tell myself I’ve still got the rest of this year before I have to knuckle down!

This post is challenging

Writing a post feels like work today.  I’ve got loads of other things to do.  It’s that time of year.  The time when I should be dashing about shopping, wrapping, writing cards, panicking about who’s doing what.  Instead, I’ve been sitting here for an hour or two, trying desperately to write something vaguely interesting, as well as vaguely entertaining.

Three times I’ve written stuff and deleted it before I’ve got to the end.

I didn’t mean for it to become work.  It was supposed to be fun.  Supposed to get me in writing mode.  But today it’s pressure.  I haven’t posted anything for a few days, I must do it.  Must post.  Must post…

Do other blogger’s feel like this?  I don’t want to lose the (very) small number of readers I’ve got by  abandoning them at the first hurdle.  Regular posting is the way to build followers they say…  Must post something…

The daily prompt wasn’t helpful.  ‘My Hero’.  Hmm. Can’t think of one. I could be cheesy and say someone who’s been battling adversity, some celeb or other, or a superhero (well, those tight outfits they wear can be quite fetching).  What about a sporty type?  Nope, not a big fan.  Besides the only sports I watch (never participate in, please note) are team jobbies – Cricket, Rugby.  Though of course, did watch our Bradley winning the tour. He was a bit of a hero for that, but overall, not really ‘my hero’ material.

What about a band, a musician that’s inspired me?  Some talented bod who’s made a ton of money by doing a bit of singing.  Nope, not exactly hero’s are they?

Explorer’s?  People that battle against tough terrain, freaky weather, fearsome animals to get….somewhere.  Why…?  Nope, don’t get it.  Just sounds reckless, feckless.

Spacemen?  People hurtling into space, thrown around, eating dried food and seeing their pens float away (not to mention pooing in funny toilets).  No, again, don’t get it.  So you see the Earth from a distance?  So what?  (I’ve bought a globe, it’s much easier) Only crazy individuals, not hero’s, would volunteer for that surely?

Bet lot’s of people would say their dad, and all I would say to that is… No, no, and thrice no.

No sorry Daily Prompt people, I failed, miserably, to come up with anyone. Thinking about it, I don’t think I even know what a hero is now.

Well, I’m gonna have to give up now.  Got to get off out there shopping, organising, wrapping, writing. panicking. Only 15 days to go aargghh…

Come to think of it,  you know I was wrong before, writing this post isn’t like work.  Getting ready for Christmas is though.

No Ho Ho

Now I promised myself I wouldn’t write a post about Christmas.  Too obvious.  It’s all been said before. It’ll only be yet another tick in the ‘are you a scrooge’ box.  Bah humbug…

But this is relevant.  Honest it is.  It’s about how not working is even more brill at Christmas time.

I’ll be frank, like many others, I dread Christmas, and the overlong run-up to it.  Good grief, even back in September people were asking me if I’d started my Christmas shopping. No I bloomin’ haven’t.  It’s wrong. Starting that early is wrong.  Suppose I see something better nearer the time? Suppose someone asks for something in particular and I’ve already gone out in mid-summer and bought early? And besides, buying presents should get you in that jolly ol’ Christmas spirit just at the right time.  Should.

In reality,  I’ve always left it to the last minute.  We live in a small market town, which is nice, but not especially good for full-on Christmas shopping sessions, so I’ve always had to take a day off work to go to the nearest shopping mall, and a day is never enough. I’m not one to pick up the first thing I see and buy it.  Oh no.  Instead, I’ll make a mental note and go back to it if I can’t find anything else, which I invariably can’t.  It doubles…triples, the time and stress involved.  Then, of course, you ‘re trying to manouevre through crowded aisles with huge heavy bags that are cutting into your fingers and turning them as blue as the air is from the cursing.

‘why don’t you shop on-line?’ you may ask.  Well, this would be a very sensible option, but of course, working full-time, I have never been home to take in the parcels when they arrive.  I don’t know which I hate more, those cards through the letterbox asking me to ring to arrange another time (I’m always at frigging work don’cha know), or ‘we’ve returned your parcel to the depot.’  Which means a trek across town to queue up while a surly post office bloke searches through a mountain of other peoples parcels before asking me for identification which I more often than not have forgotten to take.

Anyhoo, this year it’s different.  This year I have shopped on-line at my leisure, and been at home to accept my post from the smiley delivery folk, all of whom, to a man/woman, are relieved that for once, someone is home and they haven’t entirely wasted their day.

I’ve also ferreted about in the corners of our town which remain untouched by the pound shops and bargain stores, and managed to find some lovely privately owned shops selling unusual and delightful bits and pieces.  It was actually fun.  You actually get to chat to the shop owners, who actually care.

So despite not having so much dosh to spend (perhaps partly because of that too) this year my Christmas shopping has been, so far, happily, relatively stress-free. Now just need to face the supermarket to stock up on a mountain of seasonal food….ho, bloomin’, hoho…

It’s not working

Today, for the first time in seven weeks, I had to get up, tart myself up a bit, and go to work. Well, if I’m honest, it wasn’t really work, even though it was very nearly a full day of doing something other than pleasing myself.

It was actually my first shift helping out in the day care centre at the local hospice. I went with some trepidation. Did I know how to deal with very sick people? Am I up to standard re tea making? Without my realising it, Thursday’s are men only days at the day centre, and goodness me, despite their obvious sickness, they were a cheeky bunch.

Some of the time I was standing round like a spare part, but a lot of the time was spent chatting cheerfully, looking at rude jokes on one chaps phone, and playing Rummikub, a game I’ve never played before. We had a lovely lunch, lots of tea, biscuits and cake, and several of the men had aromatherapy sessions. I saw photographs and heard stories. I chatted to the other volunteers and found that despite some age differences we were like-minded. The overall atmosphere was warm and friendly.

One very poorly chap, who spent the day attached to an oxygen machine told me ‘you won’t find a person with a proper serious disease who hasn’t got a sense of humour’ and after today, I can believe it. These were all gentlemen with plenty to be miserable about, but instead of dragging me into the gloom, they brightened my day. It certainly wasn’t work.

Am I bored?

So, after 15 years of dedicated service, I left work six weeks ago and am now enjoying being a lady of leisure. Whilst I was miserably serving my full, four months, notice, there was excited talk about my taking on bits and pieces of work ad hoc to bring in a little extra dosh. However, the longer I have spent at home the less inclined I am to start looking, and, if I’m truthful, am hoping that nothing turns up.

I am in the very happy and fortunate position that my not working does not mean destitution. My husband is a high earner, kids are independent, and we’ve paid off our mortgage. My income was generally being saved for our retirement and treats, such as expensive holidays to far flung and exotic places. So some income for me would be nice, but not necessarily essential.

So far, I’ve managed to keep myself busy all day, every day. People have asked ‘don’t you get bored?’ No. I don’t. I am filling my days with homely, housewifey things. Things only previously done cursorily at weekends. For instance, this morning, I cleaned the windows…vigourously and actually enjoyed it. I’ve baked bread -without the machine. I no longer have outstanding ironing, and the dog is enjoying lots more exercise and attention. I’ve been digging over the garden ready for vegetables next year, and of course, I am writing.

I feel great. I have energy and enthusiasm once more. No longer dragged down into depression by the stress and responsibilities of work, I can be silly again. I have found my lost self.  I was switched off, now I am switched on again.