Category Archives: Life

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.

 

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.

 

 

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..

 

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.

But….

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.