It’s been a while …


It’s been three weeks since my last post, and there have not been any real reasons why. I’ve just been a little bit lazy I suppose. I don’t like writing when there is a chance of being disturbed and with the problems we are experiencing with our youngest son, sitting and putting fingers to keyboard has not been the top of my to-do list. I think I’ve explained here before that Rh*s is Autistic and has several other linked conditions. One of the issues many Autistic people have is routine. Things have to be the same with little or no variation. Rh*s likes to know what he is doing, where and when he is doing it and who with. Changes, even the slightest can lead to anxiety and stress, which often manifests in his behaviour. He currently lives at his residential placement for 4 nights and 5 days a week. He is picked up from home Monday morning and returns Friday evening. It’s taken a long time to get to this stage, and he appears to be happy with the arrangement. He has his own flat and many staff to support him on a daily basis. However, it is now the time to plan his placement for the next year, and this is causing some issues.

I create a planner that shows the nights he sleeps at his flat and the nights he doesn’t. This planner is on his bedroom wall at Planner examplehome and one of his walls at his flat. The current planner ends on the 31st December this year. Since the middle of June, he has been ‘worrying’ that he is not going to his flat next year. Before he can see his dates we have to run it past the representative, of the people who funds his placement and this is where there has been a stumbling block. We believe, that as his placement is fully funded for 24/7 care, that the funders are going to insist on him going 24/7. We, as parents, and the support team do not think he is ready for this yet and we may have some arguments to overcome in the next couple of weeks. The uncertainty has come out in his behaviour, to the extent that he is not wanting to do some of the activities that we know he enjoys. He has also taken to ‘chanting’ about his dates. Every so often and at the moment it seems to be every hour or so he will recite “Friday, Saturday, Sunday” for every weekend up until the end of 2020. This is basically, we think is his way of asking “What am I doing next year?” We think he can actually picture his calendar in his head, rather than actually remembering the dates.

We were supposed to be meeting with the representative for a review of Friday, but the person had got some crossed wires and did not turn up. The meeting has now been rescheduled for early October, but this does not resolve the issue we have. What we and his care manager are now thinking, is that we just go ahead with the dates we are looking at, and if the funders are not happy with that, the issue will be taken to an advocate to speak for him in what they call “Best Interest”. From what I understand this advocate will look at what each party thinks is his best interest and make a decision. Could go either way, but I think that parents and carers know what is best for him more that someone sat at a desk with a financial spreadsheet in front of them. Gong to be a stressful couple of weeks.

Ridiculous pricing, From Then to Now and other things …


Unfortunately, my From Now to Then series has had to be put on hold for a while. The friend I ask to ‘proof read’ the posts is not going to be available for the next few weeks. He is in the process of changing jobs which has resulted in him emigrating to Canada. So for the next few weeks or so he only has internet access on his smart phone. Once he is settled, he has promised to continue helping. After all, I need to be as accurate as my memory serves me and it needs to be libellous free. Hopefully it will be not too long as I still have a few things to tell.

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Recently, I was asked by a friend if I could do a bit of shopping for him. All he wanted was some blade for his razor. He has a famous brand of razor that uses multi blade cartridges. They are disposable Razorand simply click into 2 Bladethe handle. Very popular as they are supposed to give a very close shave. I have never really found them to my taste as I was put off by those horrible two blade disposable razors that were becoming fashionable in the mid 1970’s. I found them very uncomfortable to hold and use, and could never get more than two or three shaves before they were put in the bin.

But to the point of this moan. I went straight to a well known supermarket and sought out the ones my friend had asked for, only to find that the pack had eight cartridges and cost just over £22. I thought that they must be cheaper than that somewhere. I tried B**ts and they were more Shaving 1expensive there and the price in Sup***rug was the same. I was very shocked to see that the packs also had security tags to prevent theft. I bought some, but vowed never to buy them for myself.

This is my wet shaving setup. The soap-mug was a present, so I don’t know the cost. The soap was bought from the previously mentioned supermarket and was about £4.00. But the real bargain was the razor and the blades. The razor was bought Bladeson eBay and cost me £2.99 postage free. I came with a pack of 5 double edged blade, an comes with its own storage box. I also bought a pack of Astra blades. They came in a box of 10 packets, each packet had 5 blades. Price, including postage £2.00. But the real bargain was the soap brush. I had originally priced them up as around £6.00 for a ‘genuine badger’ bristle. The ones I got are natural bristle and there were 10 for £6.50, and they are just as good. I usually wet shave twice a week and have an electric razor for the other days, as it is often quicker.

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At the beginning of last week I noticed a new bird in the garden. It was small, rounded, grey with a few white spots and a Diamond  Dovered ring around it’s eyes. I did a little probing around the internet and discovered that it could have been a Diamond Dove. This seemed a ridiculous notion as the bird is native of Australia. Now I know migratory birds can travel huge distances but this thing seemed far too small to travel very far. I took a picture and used, what I now know is Google Lens to try and properly identify the creature. Google Lens confirmed that the bird was in fact a Diamond Dove. I can only assume that it had been in somebodies local aviary and it escaped. It was with us up until around Thursday waddling around on the ground picking up seeds that the Starlings drop from the feeder. It now seems to have gone, which is a shame.

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September sees races in the UCI World Cycling Championship being held in Yorkshire. The main racing takes place between the 22nd and 26th, but on the 21st one of the YorkshiBuntingre 2019 Para-Cycling International legs is starting locally in Wetherby. A local Knitting/Craft shop has been  given permission to have knitted bunting both sides of a 1/2 stretch of the route. So a call had gone out for local knitters to create some bunting in the right colours. I managed to knit 20 triangles making 4 sets. I could have done another five, but was running short of a couple of the colours.

Bit of a chunter …


Chunter

There have been a few things that have irritated me this past week or so I’m having a bit of a mild rant today.

First up is driving in the rain. It’s not the driving that’s the problem, it’s other drivers. Not all, but Rainmany are guilty of the thing I’m moaning about. Picture this …driving along a grey road, on a grey rainy day and being closely followed by a grey car. Not so bad you may think. But he/she has no headlights on! Not even side lights! On the particular day in question, I counted three cars, two vans and a mini-bus with no lights on and that was in a one mile stretch of road. Incredulous. Do these people not know what the two functions of lights are … see and be seen. My driving instructor said that I should only put on my lights when they are needed. That was to ensure that lights were not left on accidently. But really, these days cars lights go off automatically when you lock the door, so leaving them on is not a problem. Even my little i10 turns the lights off for me.

Next up is those form you get through the post that have all your personal details already completed. Now I’m not talking Formsabout your name and address on the cover letter, that’s unavoidable, no It’s all those little boxes on the various pages that have all your details filled in. Quite often they are from banks or insurance companies and will have your details in two or three places. I reluctantly agree, that they can save you a little time when you fill the form in, but it is very annoying when you are not interested and have to spend time shredding every page. I once received a credit card application form (not requested) that had a total of 12 pages. My name and address were on both sides of six of these pages and on one side of another two pages. Fourteen different occurrences of the same details. The shredder nearly gave in!

This may be a strange one to some. It’s magazines! Or more to the point, magazine classifications. This is online and in shops. I’m currently in communication (ha…still waiting for a reply) with a magazine subscription reseller with regards to how they classify their sales. I had better explain where I am coming from. I’m a knitter. I’ve been a knitter for over 50 Magazinesyears on and off and I’m quite used to the double take when I mention this.  Now this reseller (not going to mention the name as my complaint is still on-going) has on their website a large number of magazines available for subscription. These magazines are listed in categories such as “Leisure Interests”, “Hobbies & Pastimes” and a few more. The thing that has caused this particular ‘chunter’ are the magazines that are listed in a classification called “Women’s Interests” and “Male Interests”. The Women’s list has magazines on sewing, crafting, the usual Woman’s Own type and all of the ‘chat’ types. The Men’s list has car magazines, motorbike magazines, so called ‘lad’s mags’ and heavy metal music magazines. Most of both lists are in other classifications, but it seems to me to be wrong in these times to have separate classifications for men and women. Just an opinion.

Back to normal …


Back in April of this year, I changed the settings on my blog posts to show an excerpt rather than the full post. It was on the advice of someone who was of the opinion that my traffic would increase if I did this. Well after 4 months, it doesn’t seem to have made any difference at all. In fact, it may have even put some people off reading the post if they have to ‘click’ to read. Who knows? So the “Continue reading…” has gone and I’m back to displaying the full post.

From then to now … getting the hang of it


For the first few weeks, I felt a little out of place. All the team I was with, bar one had been office workers since leaving school and most of them had been with a Local Authority, so I was a bit of an oddity. Most of them couldn’t seem to get their heads around why, with the qualifications I had, would I want to work in an office. This was something that had been explained to us on the course and so I was expecting it. They soon got over it within a couple of weeks, and I settled down to become an “Officer of The Council” as we were called.

The briefcase was the first thing to be ditched, quickly followed by the fountain pen and dictionary. I had also bought a Rucksacksuit and I soldiered on with that for a couple of months. We shared our office floor with a couple of other sections of the Council and I soon discovered that literally nobody carried a briefcase. Most of the women had some form of shopping/tote bag to supplement their handbag , but the men didn’t seem to have bags at all. I still had my lunch and calculator to carry, so I needed something. I eventually dug out my old school bag, which was one of those thick canvas army types that we used to be able to get from the Army and Navy stores. Now what ever happened to them?

It had been noted at my interview, that I had an interest in computers and technology. This of course led to me being given a ‘very important job’. Everyday, at 4pm I was to  perform the database back-up. Because IBM Computerthere was two types of parking ticket (on-street and car parks) we had two computer systems. The reason for this was that back in 1986 the on-street parking service (parking meters) merged with the off-street car parks service. Each brought their own systems which were not compatible. So the off-street system (car parks) used Microsoft Windows 2.1 and a software package called DataEase, dBase 2 screenwhereas the on-street part of the team had an old IBM machine that ran a program called dBase. It also ran Wordstar and Supercalc, but we never used them. It was dBase 2 that we had, but it was not like the other system which had it’s own built in back-up routine. No with this one, you first had to ‘drop out’ of the database and jump to a ‘DOS prompt’ Then you had to ‘Setpath’ which basically told the computer where to look and then type the back-up command. This had to be exact and had the location of the file to be backed-up, and the location where it was to be backed-up to. You then had to verify the back-up by following a similar routine.

It took me a couple of months before I realised that I could write a batch file to do all the leg work. When it worked first IT Experttime, I was a hero. I had shaved a good 10 minutes of the time and it was far more accurate.. The only downside to this was that I was now the Parking Departments IT expert! Everything from changing the computer plug filing the back-up discs to replacing the printer toner was now my job. I even got asked to ‘have a quick look’ at the photocopier. Other staff started to come to me with their IT related problems and I came to the attention of the IT Department. I was now the unofficial IT support (more on that later) for Parking. If IT wanted any small work doing, then I got the call and was talked through the problem and solutions. I was loving it.

From then to now … a huge change


It was expected that future ‘outsourcing’ of services (the Council did not like the word ‘Privatisation’) would result in a Steam Boilernumber of job losses. This was especially true for the catering services providing mass produced meals. The same number of people can produce 50 meals or 500 meals. It is just a matter of scale, and the large industrial caterers were more than used to this.

In an attempt to minimise job losses, Leeds City Council came up with a plan to try and train staff in threatened roles, to work as office staff. It was quite a big undertaking, but it was surprising how few ‘manual’ workers took up the option. It was posted in the monthly staff Word Processornewsletter, but the program only lasted 1 year before it was closed down, apparently due to lack of support. The way it worked was this: one day a week for 15 weeks, a trainee would attend a variety of courses. These were, touch typing, business letter construction, Council finances, office etiquette and, although computers were few and far between, word processing. The problem where I worked was the availability of the newsletter. It first went around the 4 Care Officers (managers in a word) who usually had it for a week or so, before it was passed to the Care Assistants. There were 20 of those, so it was often out of date before the kitchen staff got their hands on it. However the newsletter in question that had the advertisement for the course, was left in the kitchen by one of the officers, so it was only by chance that I saw the advert. I applied and much to everyone surprise, I got on the course.

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The courses went really well and I passed them all without much trouble. I did struggle with the touch-typing, but I had the speed and got away with it. Each course came with a certificate. They wouldn’t be much use to anyone outside the Council as they were not recognisable awards, but it was till nice to get something for the achievement.

Another aspect of the course was interview skills. We all were given a mock 10 minute interview and then we were given an CVassessment on where we went right or wrong. That proved really useful. One of the trainers was in constant touch with various personnel departments and they got the first notification of any suitable jobs coming up. Towards the middle of July, about 4 weeks before the courses were due to finish, a job came up that I was told that I would be suitable for. They arranged an interview and on the 26th July I found myself sat in the Parking Managers office explaining about my computer skills. I have to mention here that I had a personaTexas Instruments TI99 4al computer at the time and was very proud that I had written a game, that had been published in a leading computer magazine. I explained about the need for accuracy whilst at the same time being prepared for boring repetition. I waffled on about being able to work in a team (catering) and being able to work alone (computer). Interview over, I went back to work. I was due to finish at 5pm that day but had been asked to stay until 6:30 to help with some entertainment that was happening that night.

When I finally got home, K**h told me that Car Park Section had rung and could I ring them at around 9am the next morning. I fully believed that I must have failed the interview and that they wanted to give me the feedback I had asked for. So feeling a little dejected, I rang from the phone in the APH kitchen. I’m told, that I changed colour during that call from my Doubtfulnormal flesh colour through white to red. I had got the job, and after discussing the minimum period of notice (only a week surprisingly) I rang back to say I could start the second week of August.

This did not go down too well with the staff at the home. All wished me luck, but I could tell that they thought I was making a mistake. “You’re a cook not a typist” was one of the more often used phrases, along with “You won’t last five minutes sitting at a desk”. All this could have  been true, but I knew that I was going nowhere in the current job, so really had nothing to lose.

So on Tuesday the 6th August 1990, with my expensive scientific calculator, fountain penBriefcase, pocket dictionary and lunchbox packed neatly into my new briefcase, I found myself back in the Parking Managers office having the office rules explained to me.

A new challenge had begun.

From then to now … yawn …


As I mentioned earlier, my time at Hillside APH was a little boring. The job had no prospects and had little in the way of Yawnchallenges. Compared to the previous 15 years, the work was easy, although some of the staff weren’t. But it paid the bills and we were soon back on the right foot again. So much so, that by December 1988 were discussing the possibility of having a child. Early in February 1989 K**h discovered that she was pregnant.

Work for me was much the same as it had been all along. The only thing that changed was that I had started to get paid for any overtime. There wasn’t much overtime and what little there was was paid as time off in lieu. Basically you worked on your day off and you got that day back at some point. For some reason, and I think it was something that the unions had been working, we were now getting paid at time and a half. So the money was increasing slightly but the work load remained the same. The problem had been (as I was led to believe)  that although the APH was owned an run by the Local Authority, the support or ancillary staff were employed by the APH and paid for out of the establishments budget. As I understood it was the unions that had forced a change, so that the support staff were now employed by the Local Authority and now came under their rules and conditions.

The pregnancy followed its course without too many problems (those are for another time) and at Babythe end of October 1998, S***e our son was born. Work was still the same, but towards the end of December things began to change.

Firstly, the Council ‘Rumour Mill’ began to feed stories into the work place. Again, the word LaundryPrivatisation” was banded about. Some APH’s in other parts of the country had trialled outsourcing some of their support jobs with laundry service seemingly the most popular. Then in January it was announced that the laundry at Hillside was to become privatised. It didn’t seem to have any effect in the early days. The staff stayed the same, they were paid the same and did the same hours. But when one retired, she wasn’t replaced. We now had two people doing the work that three used to do.

Things were starting to have the effect that the unions had been talking about for a couple of years.