All posts by Japes

Christmas Present to myself.

For once, I listened to the Queen’s speech. This was not just because I was in the room at the same time the TV was on, (the Japes’ abode continues to be TV free,) I clicked on the link to listen after I’d noted the headlines referring to reflection… and on listening heard Her Majesty voice the feeling that had been at the back of my mind for a while, about balancing action and reflection.

I always have been, and always will be an active person. But, I know myself well enough. I need time and space to myself on quite a large scale to maintain that activity. I can be in the public arena for so long, then need to vanish. Hopefully, this will be the start of a whole eight days of minimal contact with the human race, to restore that much needed sense of balance.

This is what writing and blogging has always been about for me.. and it’s been removed from me lately, with the presence in my everyday life of someone who doesn’t get social media or blogging… yet, has delved into it enough to have pulled up inter-actions I made several years ago. None of which I’m bothered by, but I am bothered by the fact someone would do that, and tell me so. I’m bothered that someone feels the need to do that. Yet, if someone who interacted with me via that media as well as in real life had noted those comments, I would just smile.

The now not so new job didn’t help in all of this. It’s taken a bit of getting used to, people dynamics-wise, and I’m clear, after a term, that keeping work and my own life separate is going to be the best policy.

Nor did a massive hiccup in the Japes’ sibling relationships department help. Maybe not handled particularly well at the time, but I’m comfortable with where it’s got to… and, well, if the rest of the family don’t like it, I can live with that.

I had a go at private journaling again… I’ve giggled at the attempts – I don’t half lose a sense of perspective if I don’t think anyone else is going to see what I write!

So, you unlucky readers, who think I’ve vanished from the blogging scene… I’m back!! Happy Christmas.


Peeks head over the parapet

No, I’ve not quite vanished…. just difficult to write much about New Job. Which is what most of the last few weeks have been all about. Suffice it to say, I’m loving it.

I’m learning loads. Much of what I learnt in the Old Job has been incredibly useful, though I’m having to unlearn some things as well. Some interesting learning from the past has been hauled out from the back of my memory bank, and the skills learnt then are being transferred into a new situation.

I’m really loving the much reduced commute, and know there is no way I could do this job if I were commuting as I much as I had been. My bank account is loving it too, though I’m sure the train company is missing my monthly contribution. Not having to leave home until after 8.15 a.m. and being home by 5.00 even on the “late” evenings is a joy and delight. I’ve even done things occasionally in the evenings….

Former colleagues are very jealous of some of the significant differences in dress code, and how paperwork is done. New colleagues are getting used to me. It’s nice to be working somewhere where I’m just known for what I do in this job, not what I was originally known for being and doing prior to Old Job.

The full year has been completed in the organist’s work as well.. back to Harvest tomorrow, which is where I started last year! I think we’re all OK with what I’m doing. I’m enjoying it, at any rate.




Signs of autumn, they are appearing.

Ah, the gentle tones of the burglar alarms to accompany the cooler evening air, and the darker evenings.

The supermarket aisles cluttered with trolleys and groups of confused people meandering aimlessly, debating with much seriousness.

The same lack of speed at the supermarket tills and lack of logic as to what goes where in their bags – and me standing there, biting my tongue. (Yes, it’s rather sore today, I’m sure it will be better soon.)

The same aimless meanderers and stragglers along the pavements.

The note to self to be careful on dark nights, for the sports training teams will be out running again, and they have no care or concern for the solitary middle aged female pedestrian who might just not like a stream of joggers either side of her.

The explanations to confused bus travellers, “No, I can’t change a £20.00 note, you need the correct money.”

Oh, yes. The students they are returning in their hordes. They don’t get the hang of the burglar alarms on their houses, they haven’t a clue how to shop efficiently, or quickly, and as for packing their bags at the till. Oh dear. My gran is turning in her grave, she had me trained in the art of bag packing long before I was able to carry more than one carrier bag at a time!

They straggle alone the pavements taking up the whole width, and look completely clueless when you ask to get past them.

As for travelling independently…. all I will say is they mostly don’t use the buses around here, other than for occasional trips, and for that I am grateful! I was less able to control my tongue on their train travelling techniques! Or lack of them.

But, on the whole, I’m glad to see them back. It’s quieter around here without them, and we’ll have them trained by the summer.


The Splendid Day Out

Days out, for loads of reasons, have been a bit scarce in the life of a Japes. My new academic year resolution is to amend that, and get out for a full day at least once a month.

September’s was already booked, and had been for some time. I’d been invited to a wedding and eventually accepted on the grounds I was likely to make that one of my four Sundays off a year, and would go to London for the weekend. I was still working in Old Job, as the thought of the travel there and back in a day, playing on Sunday, then kicking off the new term properly with the long commute and an unknown timetable until 8.30 a.m. on the Monday morning, was not filling me with great enthusiasm. Anyway, one of my best friends was living in Central London and was always happy to accommodate visitors.

Things have a knack of changing… New Jobs appeared on the horizon, for both me and my friend. I reduced my commute dramatically, he moved out of Central London. (It’s OK, words have been had.) The thought of doing what I once would’ve done without a second thought, doing London and back in a day, and had become an unbearable thought, became thinkable again.

The train journey was positively pleasant. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable a journey is when the quiet carriage is actually quiet, and it all happens on time. I was less impressed I’d forgotten a lot of the shops I wanted to visit didn’t open at 9.00, but that just means my local bookshops will get the benefit of my book tokens.

Then, on to the first bit of socialising. A chance exchange on another place on the Internet presented me with another opportunity when in London… meeting someone I’d always wanted to meet, and so we did. It was a lovely chat, good coffee, (nice new cafe upstairs in Waterloo Station with fantastic people watching opportunities from the balcony) and an amazingly rapid hour and a half went by. It also kept me calm before the wedding, as this was a bit of a throwback to a former existence, and much as I loved all the people, I was kind of dreading possible difficult conversations about Why I’d Done What I’d Done. I need not have worried, they were just delightfully accepting of why things had to change, and were far more interested in life as it is now. And, I did much, much getting up to speed on their lives. Facebook helps with facts and pictures, but it’s no substitute for the Proper Catch-up. Why I’d worried… well, I do know, but I need not have done so.

The wedding was also delightful. I possibly am not meant to sit in a church just before a wedding starts and suddenly muse out loud. “I remember the sermon I preached here. It was all about sin.” Luckily, it made perfect sense to those who knew me!

And, so, wedding over, catch-ups all done, I wended my weary, but very happy self back. Train journey worked just as well going back. Can’t say I was the most alert organist ever this morning. We will gloss over the moment everyone sang unaccompanied for two lines.

It’s still the first full working week starting tomorrow – the difference is, I know my timetable, I know half those I’ll be working with, and I don’t need to worry too much about the ones I will meet tomorrow.

A whole new era begins…

I am quite exhausted and am about to wander off for an early night, but need to make note of the following.

  • When I am whinging about waiting twenty minutes for a bus, I am to remember that I used to commute for an average of three and a half hours a day. Today’s commute, including the twenty minute wait was a total of forty three minutes. It’s likely to be under thirty minutes regularly.
  • No-one in this place ever knew me as who I used to be. That is remarkably liberating.
  • The alarm at 7.00 a.m. was most blissful in comparison to the 5.30 a.m. of years gone by.
  • I am hugely grateful to the tutors who taught me to love their curriculum area and to be enthusiastic about it. They have contributed to me being able to do this new job.
  • Being home before 5.00 p.m. on a regular basis is going to be a revelation!

On the whole, this is a good move all round, methinks. But, I am very sleepy!

Thirty years on.

So, I scared myself and a good number of other people today by announcing it was thirty years since I received my A Level results.

They were what I needed to get to where I was intending to go at the time, so I wasn’t too bothered about them being really quite poor results. I was more annoyed by the complete failure in my Music A Level, after getting a good solid B grade at O Level. Consultation with the other 50% of the group (yep, there were just the two of us!) led us both to conclude we’d not had a good two years of teaching, with one honourable exception out of the nine teachers we’d had, the exams had been absolutely awful and nothing like we were expecting, so the results were probably quite fair, we didn’t need the A Level to get to where we were aiming, (me into education, she into nursing) so pursuing the appeals procedure was likely to be a waste of time, effort and money. I didn’t do it, and neither did she.

I was still accepted onto a course where I spent 50% of my time on Music. I’d fulfilled the requirements for that through my audition, my instrumental grade results and my interview. My other two A Levels, in French and General Studies, gave me the results I needed for the other 50% in Education.

My best result was in General Studies… an exam for which we were not prepared, which we all took as a matter of course, and which relied mostly on our own interests and general knowledge.

French.. well, the one year of post A Level work I did killed all love I had of the language. I’ve often intended to revive my ability to read and speak French, but to this day, I’ve rarely had the inclination, apart from the occasional week in France or with groups of French speakers.

But, Music has remained. For a few years, music teaching was my sole form of income, and organ playing and the ability to play the piano has probably shaped my current pattern of life almost more than any other skill I have.

30 years ago, my intention was to become a primary school teacher. I will never regret that decision, as it led me to where I am now, but I have never used that training in the way for which it was intended.

I do still work in education, but in ways I never envisaged and could not have done so as the roles I’ve been fulfilling in recent years just did not exist. In fact, towards the end of the time of my initial training I was firmly told I had no people skills, should aim for nothing higher than working in Woolworth’s (just as well I ignored that piece of well-meant, but brutal advice) and certainly had no talent or aptitude for working with teenagers, and I was never to think of doing so, when I tentatively suggested I might be training for the wrong age range. Um, we all now beg to differ, me, my current employers, hopefully my future employers, and the many teenagers I have worked with and for over the last 20 or more years. (Well, OK, some of teenagers may well agree with the original advice!)

Maybe one day, I’ll try that Music A Level again.. just to prove to myself I can!!

Small victories….

but very satisfying ones.

The new lunch box has been tracked down and purchased. This has not been without angst. I went along to the emporium that I bought the last one from (2.2 litre clip-lid plastic food storage box. Perfect size, and my standard lunch fits it in beautifully.) as it’s a major player in the supermarkets around here… well, they’d got the box, but they’d gone and compartmentalised it. I didn’t want compartments!! Yes, the little dividers were removable, but there were ridges to put them back into. They would leave marks on my cakes the days I used the lunch box as a cake box.

Five different branches of this lot did I try, including the biggest one I’d ever been in and all to no avail. They were all compartmentalised at that size. Obviously they agreed with me it was perfect lunch box size, but I disagreed it needed a little extra help to make it a perfect lunch box. So, to the stifled giggles of my shopping companion that day, I declared war. They may have gone and messed about with my perfect lunch box, but I wasn’t giving up….

It’s slightly different dimensions, and an extra 0.3 litres of capacity, but I now have the lunch box replacement. (The clip lid was broken on the old one, and I had fears of the cracks harbouring nasty germs after two episodes of not wellness.) moreover, I did not have to purchase a set of eight clip-lid boxes of varying capacities, of which I would probably only ever use about three. Hooray for the small independent “stock almost anything in the household line” shops still in existence..

So, that was the first small victory of the week.

In other victories..

  • I have been for a haircut, and like it.
  • I don’t have to do any supervising of tree removal and fence replacing whilst still on annual leave.
  • I am successfully ignoring the e-mails which are church work related. (I must set up a separate e-mail account for those, methinks.)
  • I am managing not to panic too much about impending changes.
  • I have got through the long list of minuscule tasks which have been piling up for weeks, but about which I have been procrastinating very successfully. (Yes, most of them only took a couple of minutes…)
  • I have had a proper rest from music stuff purely by not getting the piano out of its box and reassembling it!

Another 3 days of mooching, and I will feel like I’ve really managed a decent, relaxing couple of weeks.



Contemplating the new phase

I appear to have been and gone and done it well and truly this time. It’s all change on Planet Japes.

New job starts in 4 weeks, providing all the paperwork goes through (and there is no reason why not, both referees are prepared, and I have a recent DSB certificate which will help.)

I went for the interview, felt reasonably confident afterwards that I’d not done at all badly even if I wasn’t totally convinced I’d answered the safeguarding questions at all well. I was told that I’d get a letter, one way or the other, hopefully by the end of that week. So, I dismissed it all from my mind, resumed normal day to day working and commuting, and threw myself into the July/August task of Reordering the Filing Cabinets, and muttering dark and dreadful thoughts about people who can’t fill in basic paperwork.

Friday came and went, Saturday post came and went, Sunday I started getting grumpy and stroppy. I leave home before the post arrives, so knew nothing doing until Monday evening. As nothing had materialised by Monday evening I’d talked myself into it being a “No” and on Tuesday joined in the conversations about start of year plans, dodged the pressure to sign up for a particular short course and prepared myself for 19 days off work.

I arrived home on Tuesday evening to a phone message – could I call back regarding my interview. I still convinced myself this was a “No” and just a courtesy call to say I’d done OK, but not this time. I was already getting up reasonably early on the Wednesday, as I had booked a van for 48 hours… a combination of piano transporting, trip to the tip, and the Heavy, Awkward, and/or Unlikely to Go Off For the Next Year Items Annual Shopping trip. Oh, plus a quick trip into current work place with a pile of book friendly cardboard boxes for a colleague who was in sudden and urgent need of them. 

9.15 a.m. was my declared time for phoning. Gives the nice HR person time to get into the office, and not feel hassled by the phone, or so I thought. 9.04 a.m. my phone goes… and I am being offered the job! And, um, they’d been trying to get hold of me since Monday. ( I managed not to say what I thought, which was “Why on earth didn’t you leave a message then?”)

9.15 a.m. saw me phoning into my current job to forewarn my line manager not only was I bringing in the boxes, but that job I’d told her I was applying for, and thought I stood little chance of getting, I’d been and gone and got, so I’d be bringing in my resignation letter. Which, for many reasons was the kind thing to do, and gave her a chance to vent and get used to the idea before I got there two hours later.

I am on Annual Leave for most of my notice period, and only have four more working days left in old job, and more vitally, only four more commuting days. For, the most immediate impact on my life will be the fact the train companies will no longer be getting £167.90 most months from me. I will be going to new job by one bus, and that bus pass is already in place, and has been since I realised it made sense with the organ playing work. I could even walk if I felt so inclined, and I may well bus to work and walk home on nice days. When I readjusted the figures on my budgeting spreadsheet, the difference was staggeringly apparent. I had to redo them to check my eyes were not deceiving me.

The other massive difference will be time regained. I will not be spending the equivalent of 31 full days a year in transit. My travelling time will be less than a quarter of what I currently do. I can do things in the evenings, I will be able to get up at a more reasonable hour. I won’t have to take half days to get to appointments late afternoon…

Oh yes, it’s a whole new phase on Planet Japes.


This may be a transitional few days. Or not.

Now, I am not foolish enough to be certain I will get this job I am being interviewed for this coming week, but, all things being equal, I probably stand a reasonable chance. I tick all of their essential boxes, most of the desirable boxes, and having had a thorough read of the website, tick numerous boxes they didn’t ask about.

I’ve gone from the over-excited “Squeee!!!!!” on receipt of e-mail inviting me to interview, to “Oh my goodness, what have I gone and done this time?” and am now trying to be relaxed about it all.

At the moment the massive plus would be a huge reduction in commuting time and cost. I currently do bus, two trains, and a 20 minute walk on the way in, and reverse that on the way home, often walking rather than bussing the last bit home as well. 1.75 hours each way. This commute is costly time-wise, energy-wise and on the verge of being financially unsustainable if train fares continue to increase annually at the current rate. A new commute would be a minute’s walk to the bus stop, 10 minute bus journey, and a five minute walk to the establishment. A 45 minute walk if I felt so inclined. Could be a two bus journey if I see an appropriate one to change onto at the interchange. I already have the regional bus pass in place, as I use it for getting to and from church, and started using for getting to the station in the mornings, which didn’t save time, but made a huge difference to my energy levels.

So, at the moment, I could be going back into work later in the week either cross for not getting this job (because I do like the sound of it as I’ve looked at it so far), relieved they’ve offered it to someone else, (stuff I’d never thought of materialises on the day) or grateful I do still have a job I enjoy, or carrying a resignation letter.

You know, I actually don’t mind which it is, (apart from the travelling bit…) because I’m just delighted that I’ve been short listed for a full time job on the first attempt, for the first time in my life for someone who doesn’t have a clue who I am!