Category Archives: Work

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.




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!

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.


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.

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.

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.

Whilst there’s a lull…

So, term finished, and organ playing took over!

It’s been one of the nicest terms ever. Even with the group that seemed to be really awful at the start of the year. We’ve come to a set of amicable agreements, and it mostly works. They’ve just provided me with my extreme moments!! (There was a week we concluded they may not want me directly involved in their group conversations, but they do want me to hear them, as I’ll then do something about whatever I’ve heard…but the day they all settled down to do some serious work on a Friday afternoon, and produced it, was a real highlight.) I could’ve done without the pressure of possibly being observed at any point in the final two weeks. I was quite miffed that this never happened, but relieved as well!

Then, term ended, and organist duties started. One Christingle, (well, that was really on the Sunday before term ended) one end of term service, (for a school that finished after me) one funeral, one Nursing Home carol singing and one Sunday service down. Crib service, Midnight and Christmas Morning to go… Should have been another service in there this afternoon, but it’s changed time, day and type of service.  One re-ordering of the music files in church, one contemplation of a washing of the currently redundant choir robes, one grapple with the lectionary/hymnbooks for January, and some of February. (Yes, I know – it’s scary, but I’m done with hymn choosing until Lent, then will have a glorious Lent/Easter choosing in February.)

I’ve even cleaned the house, sorted some of my own financial matters out, and done a shopping spree whilst it was relatively quiet. Sometimes, it’s definitely worth working in a different county to the one in which I live when the holiday dates work in my favour!

Then, there’s the fact I am settled in a church, and it is the right place to be. Which is probably the very best Christmas present of all after these three years of wondering if I’d ever be OK with being an active part of a worshipping community again.

I wonder…

I have ended the working week significantly less tired than usual.

Yes, I got away three hours earlier than usual on Friday. That certainly helped! But, I’d put in some extra hours earlier in the week.

No, it’s not been a particularly different week. In fact, if anything, it’s been a pretty stressful week.

The main significant difference is that I have transferred all the contents of my work bag to a shopping trolley. This included

  • Three pencil cases
  • Two A4 folders, fairly full of paper
  • One Travel Scrabble set
  • One travel coffee mug and jar of coffee
  • One Lunch Box
  • One boiler suit or spare pair of jeans
  • One pair of steel toe capped boots
  • One Diary, small, but significant
  • Several items that didn’t belong to me, but will be returned to their owners when next I see them on Monday.
  • One purse
  • One Season Ticket for the Train
  • One Work ID badge
  • One small bag of medical items
  • One Bible
  • One Book for reading on the train
  • One coat/spare fleece

I’m not going into the details of why there is nowhere at work to keep any of these items. I don’t need all of them every day, but, I do need all of them in the course of the week. The final straw has been the realisation that I now finish most of my working days after our office has been locked, so I can’t even leave my coat there. The one day a week I can, I am liable to forget it’s there, and worry it’s in one of the four other places I’ve been since arriving. My left shoulder, and back, had been getting progressively achier since September, and the introduction of the new timetable, and are significantly less so today.

So, shopping trolley it is.   I am really surprised at how much less tired I’ve been in the evenings all week, and how much more energy I’ve had today. Now, it could be I am much more accustomed to my new routine in both jobs, and am less panicky about Sunday organ playing.

I was wary, initially, of using it on the train, but it’s only been a bit of a pain one day. It seems to be conferring eccentric middle aged woman status on me. The young man who was blocking my way to the only seat in the carriage looked set to argue with me for his aisle seat, but gave in when I pointed out the trolley and me wouldn’t fit in the window seat. He knew when he was beat, and shifted up.

So, what am I going to do with the new found energy?!

New routines

It’s taken a month, but I’m now well and truly in the swing of the two job thing again!

Main job has settled down, hours have shifted around, and a bit of a clear space has been created so I can get some organ practice in on a weekday. I’m fitting in some regular piano practice and that’s helped loads, but I do need to practice regularly at an organ.

I have learnt  I also need to readjust some food routines – I definitely need to eat more breakfast on a Sunday, and have my main meal when I get home from church at midday, especially if I’m going back for an evening or late afternoon session.  I also need to consider eating more substantially at lunch times in the week, or a more substantial breakfast. I’m getting home later, and it’s not great eating later these days.

It’s busy, but good.

Am I quite mad?!

So, sometime in the summer, I accepted the post of organist at a church I’d not been going to, but knew of. I’m due to start that soon, with Harvest Festival.

I’d anticipated a work timetable similar to last years, as I already knew I was highly likely to be returning to the same curriculum area. But, I was not anticipating one of the lowest level groups, and therefore, several hours a week of time with students outside lessons, waiting for them in the morning, and seeing them to their transport home in the evenings.

So, I have 35 hours a week of solid contact time. This is partly because we have a staff crisis… as we always do at this stage of the year, and partly because we didn’t anticipate my student to be quite so needy. One day, I would like those who work in education in our government to shadow me for a week, and then try to do my job, on my salary, for a term. As I was heard to say yesterday, in a moment of frustration with moving goalposts, mixed messages and impossible demands from a hierarchy who have never worked in a classroom, “I love my job, I enjoy my students, I work well with my colleagues, but boy oh boy, do I hate the politics.”

I’ve also got what I’d always dreaded this year – a group of giggly girls. However, I seem to be making better progress with them than I thought I might. I work well with naughty boys, but I appear to have a very well behaved group of them this year.  The girls are intent on educating me in matters of fashion and music. I’ve not had the heart to tell them generations of teenagers have tried, and failed. They will learn to accept me as I am, as I accept them as they are… mysteries as we are to each other.

So, combining what is now a real full time job, hours-wise, with a Sunday commitment at a level I’ve not done for three years or more, and the hellish commute does seem to be a little insane. Luckily, I’ve got a month of term to get the full time work off to a good start, before picking up the Sundays.

Whilst it’s all going to be a bit hectic time-wise, what I’d not banked on was, when I’m in practice, how much music energises me. More and more, I am grateful I have the piano at home, and will be able to have regular access to a church and organ. For, that will also be a huge help. I have missed having a church I feel at home in, and a church where I can  just go in to pray.

I’m also now in my fifth year of the main job kind of work, and tiring as it can be, when it’s going well it feels less and less like “work” and more like fun. (Yes, despite the ridiculousness of this past week, and the heavy load of hours, it’s still fun when it’s going well.) So, ultimately, I think the combination will work. I am going to have to be strict about my off time, though.

Mind you, I’d not expected last nights nightmares about muddled hymn lists, confused mass settings, and my feet not able to reach the pedals. (They do, it’s the best organ I’ve ever played for that one.) I am going to make cake as an antidote!