All posts by Japes

Being brave

I am applying for new jobs. This is being extremely brave of me… I’ve had a somewhat interesting employment history, and have only ever done the apply for a job, be interviewed and offered the job once in my entire life!

My current job has kind of evolved around me. It began as something else altogether, but I was noted to be good at one aspect of the work, one we hadn’t realised I would have a natural aptitude for at all. I gave up the original role three years ago, settled into this new role and have never looked back.

But, I work 30 miles away, I now have a second job, organ playing, which is close to home, which I am loving and want to do more of. I’m tired of and by the travelling. The ethos of the job has shifted, and the primary concern no longer seems to be the students. I’m exhausted by some aspects of the role as it has evolved.

So, I am trying for work closer to home… similar field, but in a different environment.

Here’s hoping.

Just a little too much excitement

Possibly, I need a break from public transport! Or, I need to travel at times when other people do not.

So far this week,

  • I’ve been accused of being a baby and child hater for asking the person in charge of the double buggy to move it from the doorway of the train, so I could get to the empty seats I could see and not add to the serious congestion in the doorway and aisles. Irregular train travellers, why do you not sit down when there are seats?
  • I’ve had bruises from a free-range suitcase on wheels on a bus. Smiley Student boarded bus, it took two friends to get all her luggage on, which included two suitcases on wheels. Smiley Student abandoned all of the luggage in a very haphazard fashion to get ticket… in the meantime, the driver drove round a corner, which went slightly down hill, and all luggage on wheels set off, bruising me as it went past. If you can’t control all your own luggage, you have no business being let loose with  it.
  • I have observed numerous discussions betwixt train managers and passengers, which are getting monotonous. (“No, your ticket is not valid on this train/this route/at this time.” “No, that area season ticket is not valid to any station on this line, yes, I know the lady (Me!!) over there has a similar looking pass, the difference is she pays the Out Of County rate to allow her to travel on a combined ticket.” “You really do need to buy a ticket before boarding this train, that’s the Nth time this week you haven’t, and the ticket office is open…”)
  • And, if I have to ask people to let me and other passengers get off the train before they get on it one more time, I am going to scream very, very loudly.

Wanders off for a nice, quiet, introverted, non-travelling rest of the day.

Welcome back, little blog

Welcome back to the Wibsite, and thank you so much to Mr Wiblog for all his hard work! It was lovely to come back from a trip to That London, (to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the musical, with a bunch of youngsters from church) to find it all back again.

So, I’ve celebrated with a new theme!

Am I turning into my gran?!

A beautiful sunny day beckoned. A Bank Holiday, no less, so no obligations of a Main Job nature. Or even an organist’s obligations, other than the fact I’d done a couple of hours piano practice.

But, how do I spend the day? In a gentle, relaxed fashion…. well, sort of. In a Japes’ kind of way. I have –

  • done five loads of laundry, four of which have dried outside.
  • mown the grass.
  • weeded the pocket handkerchief sized bit of garden at the front.
  • put weedkiller on the paths, front and back. (Shush…)
  • sorted out the cutlery drawer, taking out that which was here when I arrived and can now gleefully declare I have put all the landlady’s kitchen utensils away now. (It’s so nice to know everything I’m using in the kitchen is mine!)
  • cleaned the bathroom.
  • cleaned the bedroom.
  • disembowelled the vacuum cleaner and put it back together in perfect working order again. I always knew that extending pole would come in handy for something other than painting the stairwell.
  • made a list of what needs doing over the summer in the painting line. (Outside back window, and front door frame, bathroom, kitchen and stairwell woodwork. )
  • made another list of admin type jobs that need doing
  • made…..

OK.. That really is enough. I am going to have a bath, get the beautifully air dried laundry in, and relax for the rest of the evening now.


Tries to look repentant – fails miserably.


About a month earlier than in previous years, the collapse of the weekly routine has begun. Normally, this would be stressing me out significantly, for this means less work, and less pay until at least the end of October. But, this time, I am completely unfazed. For, Wednesdays have been shrouded in a veil of gloom all year, and the hours have been silly anyway. Only 3.50 of them, but such stressful ones. I’ve mostly managed to get to do some organ practice on a Wednesday afternoon, mainly as a de-stressing tactic, but some weeks those 3.50 hours felt like about 50 hours, and I was too tired to go. Which I have not liked one little bit.

Today, however, the veil of gloom has suddenly completely lifted, as we realised it was going to be counter-productive for all concerned if we maintained the routine for another seven weeks, and the day was officially removed from all our timetables.. I’ve agreed I will work if needed for cover on Wednesdays, but otherwise, I will be using them for music-related work until the end of the academic year.

I couldn’t believe quite how excited I got about it. In  fact, it’s possibly just as well I am off to talk to the one to whom I talk about all matters of great and vital importance next week, because I am quite convinced it’s very significant. I’m sure I’m not supposed to be excitedly showing my line manager in my main job all the music I’m going to go and play, and work on, because I’ll have more time to practise. Fortunately, I’m quite well known for such enthusiasms now. But, it is also suggesting to me that I ask strongly to stick to my contracted hours in my main job next academic year,  and get more music-related work. For, Main Job does earn me enough to pay the bills, just, and Music Stuff earns my fun money. But music nurtures my soul in so, so many different ways instead, it’s more than worth creating the room and the space for it.

Some days later than planned…

Blinks… Yawns… Wha…!

OK, so I’m on the 12th day of 16 days away from main job, but on the first day with nothing planned, nothing to do, no distractions (I’ve spent the past two days doing something I’d offered to do a while ago, but only got given the files to go through this week! Think I’ve found the issues…)

Yes, yes, yes, I have a list of around the house tasks I could be doing, but I don’t want to do any of them. Well, not today or tomorrow, or even the next day, at any rate.

I always knew in my mind when I took on the organist’s job, that Holy Week would be the pivotal point. Starting in October meant getting Christmas and Holy Week in the first six months. Oh, and the Sundays I dislike most, and have managed to avoid for the last three years. (For the curious, that would be Remembrance, Harvest, Mothering Sunday – Mothering Sunday merits a whole post of its own, but when I’ve processed it a bit more.) I’ve done a couple of funerals, some schools services, and some other types of services and got a good idea of how the clergy and readers work now. (Very useful, that one.) I’ve got some ideas up my sleeves for changing some things, but nothing drastic. I’ve found out what works, and what doesn’t, and it feels like that organ is my instrument now. I still have occasional moments of pressing the wrong button, but there are less and less of them. I still occasionally  drown everyone out by making too much noise. But, if the vast majority of the congregation will sit at the back, right under where the sound comes from, then I am completely unrepentant. The only cure for that one is to move and sit in the pews nearer the front!! [Editor: Come on, these are Anglicans. you know they don’t sit in the front pews unless forced to do so.]

I’d attended Holy Week services in whichever church I’d been in over the previous three years, (long term readers will be aware there have been several!) and apart from one or two moments, never felt part of the proceedings. Yes, I would’ve described them as “good”, and looking back at the blog posts of those weeks that’s exactly what I did. But, it was from the point of view of someone who was looking in and assessing, someone with a tick-sheet noting what was and wasn’t done. Someone who was there, appreciating, but not really a part of the whole. Which, I guess, sums up those three years in the church wilderness beautifully.

This year, I was kind of expecting to be an observing, assessing type again. I had a clear role, appropriate music, and hymn accompanying to be provided, without distracting from the liturgy. I think, on the whole, that was all done pretty well. The errors were all my own, and mostly hidden ones. I’ve always tried to remain fairly detached emotionally during Holy Week, if only because the emotional roller coaster can be huge, and it’s flipping hard work playing the organ or any musical instrument, if  you’re crying so much you can’t see the music. (OK, so that so nearly happened on Mothering Sunday – except, I managed to delay it until coffee time, then just stayed at the organ and played and played and cried and played and cried…. )

The biggest difference was that I seem to have become a part of the church community in much deeper ways than I’d realised, and going through Holy Week with your community is one totally different experience from the attending everything in Holy Week in the hopes that this bunch of people will become your community. Because, they didn’t. But this lot have. Maybe battling the week together through snow helped… Or the complete and utter fit of the giggles we nearly all had around Tuesday, no, I can’t remember why either, but I do remember thinking “I do love you lot!”.

No, I didn’t choose this lot – in fact, this church had been on my list of churches to avoid at all costs because of past connections. They didn’t really chose me either, (well, they agreed to the suggestion!) but they seem to have got used to me.

So, not only did I provide the music, I went through the complete gamut of emotions on the roller coaster with everyone else as well. Indeed, it was all very good.

It’s all very quiet hereabouts…

OK, it was all very quiet until an ambulance siren went off, someone’s house alarm has been faintly going off in the background for about three hours, and Next Door are back on the weekend DIY again. Just how much DIY is needed in a house that’s only got five rooms? Small rooms at that.

But, fundamentally, it’s very quiet out there. There is less traffic, due to the prevailing slushy, white stuff on the ground. There are not loads of people off out playing in the white stuff – it’s too wet and sloppy for that. I may have finished for the next fortnight, but I don’t work locally. The area I live in still has a few days to go before holidays begin.

I might just start making a noise soon, though. Palm Sunday will soon be upon us, and that means the clarinet playing to go with the procession. I am appallingly bad at learning music off by heart,  but “All Glory, Laud and Honour” is one of the tunes I can do with no difficulty! Then, there are about 30 hymns to practise for the next week. I was going to go and do some practising, but the direct bus has ground to a halt, as a result of aforementioned white stuff, and I’d rather not be marooned three miles from home, thank you. Fortunately, back in the dim and distant past, when I had organ lessons I began during the season of Lent and my very wise teacher made me learn the seasonal hymns. I can probably still play the pedal parts to all of them without looking at the music!

Or, I could just make the most of the quiet, and go and have another nap.



What I have been doing about lately

I am rapidly losing patience with my gas supplier. The saga of the meter inspection, which I thought was over and done with, has a new chapter. How they can decide I need to arrange for a bi-annual inspection only fifteen days, seven hours and fourteen minutes after the last one, I am not sure, and neither is the customer services person.

The accuracy is due to the start of the time I made the phone call after incredulously opening both letters informing me of the need for an inspection, and the threat of court action if I did not arrange for this.  [Edited to add: This saga is in addition to the safety checks I’d been having done in the previous post. But, it still involved me taking an unpaid day off work, which, on this occasion, was totally avoidable if I’d been given the correct information the first time round.]

I had my first Mothering Sunday in church since 2009. My feelings about it haven’t changed since writing this post. It was every bit as awful as I thought, but I did pretty OK until I suddenly couldn’t cope with the post service refreshments, went back to play the organ whilst I was waiting, and couldn’t stop crying for ages… oops. Ah well, I got a lot of practice done whilst waiting for my equilibrium to be restored.

It didn’t help that there had been a bit of an interesting week previously where it had to be explained clearly to some of those I work with that being single and living alone by choice did not constitute grounds for writing someone off as clueless about relationships, and the human race in general. Neither did my religious convictions contribute to my supposed cluelessness. Actually, in retrospect, my colleagues and I reckon I am probably far too clued up for the liking of this lot, and it was easier for them to decide I couldn’t possibly understand them, as I seemed to live in such a totally different world. It’s done some good, as we’ve broken through whatever barrier it was that was preventing me working effectively with this group, and we’re back on a reasonably even keel again. Until the next time.

Then, I’ve been gearing myself up to do things I’ve been holding back on doing whilst getting settled into being an organist again. Like, sorting music out properly, clearing out files of papers dating back to 1995 (so far!!) working out how best to organise myself… Days in Holy Week will, I think, be spent in getting myself properly organised now I know what works! I’ve also formally requested for my main job to be contained to 4 days a week from September, rather than the hours spread over five days. It can be done, I know, especially given the departments I’ve been working in. However, I’m applying for similar jobs more locally. It would make sense!

But, mostly, I just seem to be trotting along, contently and enjoying whatever comes along.

An unexpected day at home

A day at home, when I should be at work, where I am neither ill, nor snowed in. Once the nice man has done all the gas appliance checks and written me a nice set of certificates, I have a more or less free day.  I have no need to do anything else, other than a little music practice later, and maybe a little ironing of some work clothes. The other chores are all done. (What is this strange universe I seem to be inhabiting at the moment – housework done, chores up to date, paperwork all filed correctly, hymns chosen as far in advance as is reasonable?)

So, why, oh why, am I feeling guilty about thinking about a trip to the cinema. Yes, I know I said a couple of months back, never again, but I do want to see Les Miserables and I’m vaguely hopeful that a mid-week term time early afternoon trip will be more pleasant than a half term afternoon trip. The fact I was willing to take the day off, as I would be going in for only 1 hours worth of work, after the gas man has finished,   was greeted very happily in the current work situation of hours reduced early this year – however, do not, I implore you, get me started on the ridiculousness of losing hours, but not gaining time back. I’m not going to get Saturday as a day off, as I’m doing something church-y. (And missing Scotland v. Italy, more to the point. After the opening round of Six Nations, this looks like being a more interesting match than I had anticipated.)


We interrupt this post to enquire why none of you told me all the gas cooker needed was a new battery for the self-ignite switch?! The gas cooker matches can now become the emergency ones instead.


And, in the meantime – I have convinced myself I am being totally idiotic, and will take myself off to a different cinema!


Settling down

Sometime in the course of this month (around 14th – I had calculated it to the 14th, then found my original address list, and dates of changes, and I now think it’s a little bit later. No matter, 14th is a nice date.) I will have lived at my current address for the longest consecutive period of time in my adult life. I have had my fourth Christmas at the same place. Though, rather to my shame, at a fourth different church.

But, for the first time in those four Christmasses, I didn’t just hunker down into 10/12 days of complete solitude, and lack of communication with the rest of the human race. I re-connected with people I’ve not been in touch for for ages, something I’ve been intending to do, but not done each year.

My work routines seem to have settled in for this academic year and I find myself with suitable gaps in the week to fit in music practice, and to get to church to do organ practice. It was chilly last night!

Then, there was the momentous decision to put the bus travel card onto Direct Debit. I dislike DD for lots of reasons, but an hour or so of working the sums out, based on an autumn’s worth of travel tickets (for I’ve used the bus much more this autumn) adding in my growing irritation of the need to have the correct change at all times with me, (for my local buses do not give change) and realisation that methods of getting the correct change often involved chocolate … confirmed my hunch that this would be a Good Thing to do. So, forms were filled in, photos sent off, and February’s ticket is here ready and waiting for me. Trains I will continue to do on the month/weekly/daily as required basis, as that still works out more cheaply.

However, with the way train fares have rocketed in the three years I’ve done this, getting a job more locally has wriggled its way to the top of my To Do list again. It’s a 13.3% increase from the sum I was originally paying to today’s price. I like my current job, but I’m feeling a lot more confident about looking for a new one than I was. Whether I stay in the same field of work, or try something else, I don’t know yet.

So, Happy New Year, albeit a little late..