Category Archives: Decisions

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!

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.



That was a bit of a week, that was…

I didn’t actually intend the last sentence of my last post to be some kind of challenge. (What am I going to do with the new found energy?!?!) Honestly, I didn’t!!

So, in no particular order –

The shopping trolley experiment. This has been continued, and results continue to be really good. I now realise I’d been living with a low-grade chronic all over achiness, and increasingly limited mobility in my left shoulder for a couple of years now, which I’d been putting down to other possible reasonable causes. It’s only with the removal of the real cause that the light has dawned. I am not as decrepit as I thought I was, I am, in reality, a fit, healthy middle aged woman who was just carrying far too heavy a load in physical terms.

What is astounding me is how easy it has been on the trains. Possibly helped by the fact that I commute against the flow. Most people commute into a city from elsewhere. Me, I love city living, but commute to a medium sized town for work purposes. So, mostly, my trains are not chock-a-block with people whose ankles I can damage with the trolley. Then, it really is conferring a mad, eccentric, middle aged status upon me . Yippee!! And, um, shopping trolleys are cheaper to replace than a rucksack…

General Synod  I am calmer now, but I have spent much of this week not being so, post General Synod voting on ordaining women as Bishops. I have spent a significant amount of time trying to explain, coherently, painfully, and carefully to my friends and colleagues who have no interest in going to church themselves, but know I do (and who were daft enough to ask for my opinion!), about the matter of ordaining women as bishops, how Synod works, a bit of the history. I have also been a sounding board for many of my ordained friends of both genders. I have remained at a distance from church politics for quite some time, but I am wondering how long I can continue with that when so many lay people I know are not being fairly or accurately represented at General Synod level. Or least, how I can be better informed about who my Lay Representatives are and making sure they fairly represent their whole constituency, since full time 9 – 5 term time employment and being on General Synod are not compatible. (This, for me, is possibly one of the clear issues to have come out of this mess – the limited number of laity who can be on General Synod.) If nothing else,this may well have shaken me out of a sense of complacency, and apathy about a number of things.

Teenage girls I appear to be on a bit of a steep learning curve about them! Despite the fact I was once a teenage girl, I sometimes wonder about my experiences, how typical they were, and possibly did I live out my teenager-dom on a totally different planet. It was in a different time zone… of 30 or so years ago. For this week, I am grateful for the baby steps forwards, and the fact we are currently communicating reasonably well. For who only knows what it’ll be like next week! I shall look at the angel they made me for my Christmas Tree (I will have to have one this year now!) and remind myself of this week when things get rough again.

Computers I have long had a bit of a love/hate relationship with learning new things. I’m slow to take it on, but when I do, I get obsessional. With computer stuff, I’m competent enough with them on a day to day basis, but every now and again, I have to learn new stuff, and I don’t always like it. But, I can safely report I have come to terms with the new music writing software, and we have developed an amicable relationship. Enough for me to confidently agree to writing out stuff for other people to use. I am on a mission to replace all the hand written, and frankly getting unreadable and faded music I have to read on a regular basis. Just need to work out how to get it to write music that doesn’t need a time signature.

Finances For the first time since turning my life completely upside down a few years ago, I seem to have a little regular, disposable income, some savings  and money left at the end of the month.  Squee!!!


First time, last time

Today, for the first time ever, I went to see a Bond Film in the cinema. I enjoyed the story, had my eyes closed for some of it, (for I am a wimp about action films) and am glad I went to see it.


Today, for the last time, I visited a cinema. From now on, I will wait to see any film I want to see on DVD.

I really did not enjoy people checking their phones regularly throughout the film. The constant lighting up of the phone screens flickering across the audience was a real distraction.

Nor did I appreciate being told as I left the cinema how rude I was to ask the couple in front of me to stop checking their phones. Apparently, they were waiting for an urgent call. Really? So you sit as far away from the door as possible, and check your phone every five minutes? You go to a place where you are asked to switch your phones off whilst awaiting an urgent, emergency call. I think not.

So, I will cross “enjoy the occasional trip to the cinema” off the list of Japes’ treats. Because, I can’t see this situation improving, and I’m blowed if I’m going to get as cross in the cinema when I’m meant to be enjoying the film, as I can about mobile phone use in quiet carriages on trains. (I’ve given up on quiet carriages – they’re never quiet.)

Ask a silly question….

Oh dear me. What a to-do!

I expect silly questions from those I work with – it’s part of the job, it’s how it is. I handle those well, on the whole. I think.

What I don’t handle well, I’m told, is intrusive questions about my past life from colleagues, at inappropriate times, and places.

No, I don’t get it either. If I asked questions about someone’s former marriage, their former relationships, someone I only know vaguely through a work situation, and used the following wording, “How interesting, do you miss it/them?” and expect a friendly chat about it, during working hours, I’d rightly expect all I got in the way of angry reaction. I think, on the whole, I was restrained to wait until the work session had finished, then politely state I did not appreciate questions about my private life whilst working.

Still, it’s all sorted now. I’ve made it very clear I will discuss the facts about my former life, I will not discuss my feelings and emotions behind them. They are between me and God, and will remain there.

That was… unexpected

Work was very unexpected… I will be signing a new contract this week, which is working massively in my favour. Not something I expected at all on being summoned to meet the head of department and her sidekick. (My boss’s boss was how I described it to my students, who wanted to know where I was going, leaving a lesson five minutes early. Outrageous behaviour.)

So, I’m staying put until a more ideal job comes along, and as I’ve no clue what that is, I’m taking this as a Sign I’m in the right place, doing the right thing for now. I’d been half heartedly job hunting, as I do want to have a job closer to home, but maybe this is how it’s meant to be.

Then, yesterday dealt me the interesting blow of a problem in the roof space, one that I don’t think is going to be solved easily or quickly. I think it’s been a problem for a long time… then there was the frozen pipe, but I’ve learnt my lessons very well there, and with the help of three hot water bottles and a hairdryer, that one was solved.

It being Education Sunday (no, I’d not really heard of it either, but it exists) we were in the interesting situation of being a very full church, lots of children, teachers and parents from the church primary school, with very few regulars. I was moved to think it was just as well, as there really wouldn’t have been enough seats otherwise… I may have gone to the Quakers next door in that case! I was charmingly entertained by a beautifully well behaved toddler, who responded well to smiles, and peek-a-boo when it was all getting too boring up front… I think I have a new friend. The intercessions were entirely predictable – prayers for teachers and pupils in schools and universities. I prayed fervently for all the support staff and admin staff, of any kind,  and those in FE and higher education establishments that are not universities.

The weather has brought unexpected entertainment. Well, it was much more interesting watching cars struggle and fail along the little hill, and unexpected bend outside my house. No damaged parked cars, fortunately. Locals know not to park this end of the road, if it can be avoided, in the snow.

We won’t discuss the Rugby. I despair.

Here’s hoping the snow doesn’t freeze overnight. I’d rather work this week, than have to make up hours during half term! I’ve got plans for half term!!

Ideas shake up..

ALERT – this is me thinking out loud, which may not be  a good idea, as I can go round in circles, and confuse myself and others. This post may also get deleted, or I may not react well to comments! You have been warned.

After a long, somewhat depressing conversation with a best friend last night, I am horrified to discover a few things I am deeply not happy about.

One of the things I’ve been finding most difficult over the last couple or years or so is the treatment I’ve been getting  as a single person in the churches I’ve gone to. It would seem that people turning up on their own to church are deeply confusing. I’ve got a long, long list of some pretty inept comments, and attitudes from churches who do pride themselves on being inclusive and welcoming.  I don’t think I go in with a bad attitude, but I’ve often got one by the time I’ve left. I used to be very confident about walking into a strange church and settling in. In fact, I’ve never had to go round churches to find one, wherever I’ve moved to, and I’ve moved a lot. I was always welcomed, and made part of the “family” . But, then in those days, I could do much voluntarily, and when I couldn’t it was understood why I couldn’t.  Now, I work long hours, and commute quite a distance, and have neither time nor energy to offer, I’m brushed to one side and ignored. When I do have time, things have ground to a halt, (I’m horrified at how tied to school terms churches are, and how anything I could get to or do stops in the school holidays.) So, now I’m very wary, and keep myself to myself. From preferring small friendly congregations I can be a part of and contribute to, I’m finding  large ones I can hide in, and slip in and out at either end of services without being noticed far preferable.

My friend suggested to me that what I’ve been experiencing is nothing other than she had been getting all her life in church as a single, competent woman. I was deeply puzzled, as  I have always regarded myself as single for my whole adult life, so why this sudden change of attitude that I’ve been encountering. I’d been blaming myself totally, (for I freely admit I was not at my best for the first year or so) and beating myself up for not being more sociable, more out-going. It could only be my fault I was finding church so hard because churches had not changed, had they?… BUT… After further conversation with best friend, however, it would appear others have not regarded me as single apart from for the last 2.5 years. (when the difficulties started) OK, so I’ve not been married, or in the kind of committed relationship with anyone else that would cause others to regard me as unavailable but I have spent  20 years as a  member of a religious community, 14 of those in life vows. No, I did not regard myself as available if the right man happened by, but I didn’t regard myself as married either.

It’s a sad fact but I’m not that keen on revealing the fact I’ve just revealed. I’m mostly hoping people skim past it, and  move onto more interesting things. But no, they grind to a mental halt, and insist on interrogating me… What, why and how.  As they did for those 20 years. Then the question were about why I chose that way of life. now they are about why did I leave….

A quick ring round of various single friends confirmed my suspicions.  As a member of a religious community, I did not count as single. I was safely part of a group, and therefore not a problem I was clearly identifiable from the moment I stepped into the church. As a single person now, who is much more anonymous, I am a Problem to be solved, a person to be watched, someone to be given Things to Do because I have time, as a single person has no responsibilities. (So, just who exactly does my housework/gardening/finances/shopping if I don’t?) I am a dangerous person who might be after any single man or woman. Or I might be in need of introducing to someone because I don’t want to be single, do I? (Um… yes, I do. If the right person was to arrive in my life, I would change my mind, but for now single suits me fine…)

Or I might be like Adoha, in Rev, fixated on the vicar. Please, I’ve spent way too much time around the church and seen the worst.

Children are to be avoided now, because I might be grooming them, or preying on them. I occasionally ponder bringing my vast collection of enhanced CRB or Disclosure Scotland pieces of paper with me to church every week. Whereas, once upon a time, I’d be surrounded by them in church, because as Sister Japes, I was a safe adult. To be fair, I also don’t want to be involved with children’s or youth work, as I spend my working week with teenagers who are draining. But, it hurts that I have concluded I don’t get involved any more with the odd stray child wandering past, as I used to.

Then, turning up to most services to pray is also regarded as odd for a single, lay person. I’m used to praying with people every day, twice on Sunday and occasionally in the week is not a lot after 20 years 4/5 times a day, 6 days a week. I’ve got a reasonable routine on my own, but it’s not the same.

Sighs… not sure where I go from here. I need to think about it all more. I do think I’ve found somewhere that will be OK, but if it gets too family orientated I may need to slip out for a while. I have found a kind of alternative prayer group which I can slot in and out of. Hopefully, just acknowledging it all may help shift things mentally.

God’s sense of humour..

So, ever since I moved to this bit of the world, I’ve been resisting going to one particular church.  In fact, for the first couple of years here, I think it was a wise choice. Spending most of your adult life living it according to the ethos and charism of a particular saint, (who in my not so humble opinion did a pretty good job of following Jesus, and living his life according to the Gospel, albeit in a bit of an extreme manner at times, and a good few centuries ago now) and on changing that, going to a church dedicated to that saint, well, it wasn’t going to happen!

This year, around favourite saint time, instead of resisting, sulking, hurting like mad, I prayed the offices for the day in full, as I had done for a couple of decades prior to this. It was all OK. It was the start of my toddle back home, church-wise.

But, the question was – where? I’ve been going to one that’s an awkward bus ride away, which didn’t work on Christmas Day, there being no buses!Anyway,  I was still getting the what was now becoming familiar losing the will to carry on at critical points – and despairing. Was I just going to have to accept this as part of church for me now? Was God trying to tell me something and I was just not getting it? Anyway, there were buses today, but I felt like trying this one within easy walking distance I’ve been avoiding!

And, joy, I got through! Crucially, no-one forced me to share the Peace once I’d sat down after shaking hands with my nearest neighbours.

I swear that icon winked at me as I went up for communion! I grinned back… it’s nice to know I’m back on speaking terms with my favourite saint again as well as feeling I’ve found a church that may become home after all.


Oh yes!! Tomorrow, wallpapering takes place.

What? It’s Christmas, it’s holiday time…. yes, yes, I know all that, but what’s a Japes to do? It’s got to be done and this is the best time to do it! I’m at home for 12 days, it’s quiet, the neighbours are away, I needed something to do, and lying around doing very little lost all attraction around 4.00 p.m. on Christmas afternoon, once the sneezles and wheezles had all finished, and my end of term exhaustion had worn off.

More to the point, by then I was in a mood most foul and horrible, and not fit to be inflicted on anyone else. Honest, this was far and away the best plan. Constructive destruction it was…. I took all my temper out on stripping off the old wallpaper. I caused chaos in my local DIY emporium. I started by needing 10 rolls of wallpaper that was way out of my reach, continued with not seeing something that was right in front of my nose  – I was looking for a gray Stanley knife, not a blue one. I finished by dropping a tin of paint upside down, I was so proud – I only lost a bit of it, I was so fast in shoving the tin back onto it’s lid. I can’t imagine why the man who dealt with all of this went in a different direction when I went back the next day for the step ladder and some new screwdrivers.

I feel a whole heap better than if I’d had a lazy time, but next time I feel inspired to do this sort of thing over Christmas, I’m not telling anyone until it’s all over. I have caused angst and anguish amongst those who see this time of year for family and friends…. yes, well, that’s so not going to happen. We agreed about that a good while ago. I love my family, but we don’t spend time together. I love my friends as well, but the ones I’d like to be with are a long way away.

Still, enough of other people’s angst. I am excited about my wallpapering!