Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Guess where?!

Things have been a little quiet round here as my blog's been on hiatus. That's all going to change, as this picture proves.

It all started about 2 months ago, with an email from Mog saying "I'm getting married in April. In Las Vegas." I think it's because everyone would say "Vegas?" rather than "you're getting married?" She's clearly trying not to think too much about it.

Anyway, after six weeks of hoping the whole thing would go away, me and Brother maxed out his credit card and we're here. And this place is every bit as mad as we thought it would be. And then some stuff we couldn't even have imagined.

Wedding's tomorrow anyway. Watch this space.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A weekend in the city!

It's my last night in Aix-En-Provence, and due to the lack of local shops I've walked a long way to find an open bar. And it's a football night.
"Bonsoir, une stella artois si vous plais"
"Oh Yes please, thankyou"
"Ah ha! English!"

I'm in France catching up with Dr Fusion who has recently become my first ever ex-pat buddy. For someone who only ever learnt 5 words of French in school (I did Spanish) I feel I've done OK and had a pretty good time over here. And any contempt waiters might have felt for our lack of French and lunchtime coffee-drinking has been outweighed by my insisting on introducing my mate as Monsieur L'Ingineur. That holds a lot of kudos in this part of town.

I can see why English people totally fall for Provence- it's really pretty nice, like England would be if we hadn't wrecked it. Everyone drinks and no-one gets disorderly, everyone smokes but no-one has a hacking cough, and every woman under 40 is slim and beautiful. I also really like the French sense of drama- girls skipping out into the road with bags of shopping causing exaggerated braking and collisions, animated conversations in narrow streets that I can't understand, and the fact that the homeless are on strike. I'm still trying to figure that one out, but every city currently has a huge tent city at its centre.

Yep, overall we love France. Except Marseilles which is a complete dump. I'm dying to learn some French and not sound totally stupid next time. Kind of hard to seduce a beautiful chain smoking brunette with "Hello" and "thankyou".

On the other hand, that used to work on one of my exes...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shaky Start!

It's five days into my course yet and I haven't done a thing. Generally that's a bad sign, but it's honestly not my fault. Or at least it's only a bit my fault.

We're starting off our social work studies by covering the OU course Understanding Health and Social Care. I've already written on two job applications that I'm doing this, so I really should make a move. Sadly, since Secure Mail Services, the OU's delivery company, appear to have left my books out on the street in a high crime neighbourhood, there's really nothing I can do so far. And it's pretty unlikely the books will show up before I go on holiday tomorrow, so there goes my great idea of doing my coursework sitting in a french cafe with a strong coffee and a brunette waitress.

Of course, this delay comes five months after I missed the course altogether as my employers forgot to send off the form agreeing funding. And I'm already plotting my escape from my currently lousy job.

Yep, I'm so going to make it as a social worker.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

...Or maybe his wife's just fat...


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Coming home I've had enough...

"The thing is, a few members of the team have come to me about how the house is a mess at the end of your shift."
"Well chief, number one it's not my job to clean the house. Number two they're clearly talking crap, because if they really thought I was doing something wrong they'd should have the guts to talk to me directly."

Well we made it, we're on leave for 3 weeks. However, I left Greenborough with a pretty nasty taste in my mouth.

The last week before you go on leave is always the hardest, and it doesn't help that my colleagues have been consistently complaining about me behind my back. What I wasn't expecting was to have a row with my manager about it. I think she caught me on an off day.

Anyway, I really don't have to worry about it for 3 weeks. And the plan at the minute is not to come back for long.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This is the end!

I had one of those friends once. He used to go out and pump iron, press benches and run marathons. I asked him once how you actually go about running 26 miles and he told me "It's like running a mile, except you keep going."

That's sort of how I feel right now. I get the feeling 3 days off at Christmas doesn't really count as a break, so from that point of view I haven't had a holiday since Turkey in August, and that contained a little too much heartache and fear to count.

So, looking at my leave a few weeks ago, I decided to take February off. For no particular reason other than I can and, well, I need to. I've got that deep tired feeling, and everything seems a little harder. When I talk to people I feel there's something missing, a spark of inspiration and empathy that went out a few weeks ago. And I've been shouting at people a little more than usual.

Two questions though. Firstly, 3 weeks is a long time. I've always told myself that if I wasn't at work I'd be doing something. But what if I'm wrong. What to do with all that time.

Second question: Can I survive one more shift? You know, before walking away and everything. I've done a 26 hour and a 28 hour stint this week, so a simple 21 hour shift should be easy. But I'm pretty tired. Sort of deep tired, looking at a sandwich when you're full up, poisoning everything you do sort of tired.

But no cop-outs, no sickies and no failures. I'll just rely on good old fashioned determination, hard work and fiddling my overtime claims. It's got me this far.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Coming home....

It's been a pretty lousy fortnight at work all things considered.

A creeping sense that I suck at my job, an inability to sleep on a sleep-in shift because I'm reflecting on how much I want to be home after a day doing a real job, and a slight suspicion that my erratic working hours might have contributed to being dumped again. But today's different, as I'm riding the bus into work with a smile on my face. This is partly because I'm going for lunch with the Chief which is always a good start to my day. It's also because I've drawn a thought bubble on the window saying "I QUIT".

28 hours later I'm just finishing my shift, so on the way home I persuade Chief to come out for a coffee and a pretty massive cake. As usual for me at the end of a shift, I've got far too much stubble, rings under my eyes and the same top I was wearing yesterday. She's got the refreshed look of someone who might have actually gone home last night. I remark on this before cutting to the chase, as I know this is going to hurt.
"I started work 28 hours ago and I haven't gone home yet. I don't want to think of this as normal."
As ever, she's very sympathetic, and says she could never go back to support work.
"I've applied for a job in Northwark as an assistant social worker. Can I put you down as a reference?"

The nicer your boss, the harder it is to quit. But it gets a little easier when I think of the hours.

Don't mention it...

Chief's preparing herself for 3 weeks without her most enthusiastic member of staff. So supervision was spent working out how I'm going to dump all my work on my colleagues before I take my holidays.

"Well, why don't you fix up a meeting with X and Y and you can do some training as well as handing over the work."
"X and Y? At the same time?"
"Is that going to be problem?"
"No, they're both lovely people. Just a little on the religious side."
"Just steer the conversation away from religion. Talk about the weather or something."

So, some time later in my shift, I'm sitting round a table with X and Y. And the training's going pretty well until one of them mentions what they were doing on Sunday.
"It's a lovely day, isn't it?" I reply.
"Yes, I thought it was going to snow, but the sun is shining gloriously."
"I know." I prepare for a strategic rant, as we're getting onto dangerous territory here. "But this is what the weather does- it snows, and then it lulls you into a false sense of security. You think the sun is shining, the sky is blue, your sins are forgiven and everything's right with the world, and the next thing you know you're walking through a snowstorm in a t-shirt."
There's a pause. "You talking about your sins being forgiven reminds me of something."

I decide to get comfortable. I'll be here a while.