From then to now … difficult days


I was now back as a full time help-desk operator and I’m struggling. I had been more or less thrown in at the deep end. I had explained before I went into hospital, some 4 months previous, that I was going to need to retraining. But when asked again I was told that there was no individual training. The Government cuts to the Councils budget was beginning to hit hard and the only training that was available was the old school “sitting with Nellie!’ Now this would have been fine if so called ‘Nellie’ had any sort of patience. This ‘Nellie’ was the colleague that wanted the job that I got, so you can imagine that there was a little bit of animosity going on.

I plodded on through the next couple of months and managed to let colleagues believe that I knew what I was doing. In reallity, I was bluffing it. There was a few things that I did know, but these were the easy things that I tended to miss. One of my colleagues realised what was happening and began to take me under their wing. She pulled out a lot of training manuals and told me to ask if there was anything I needed. I found out months later, that she had been asked to help me by the service manager. I was still struggling, but it was starting to get easier.

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Then came the Christmas shutdown. That’s when the Council made non-essential office staff take leave from Christmas Eve to January the 2nd. But, just before that holiday, I was told that I was to be working on another project. I was to be part of the Waste Collectors team (bin men). The Council were developing some software to monitor the amount of waste that householder put in their waste bins. I was transferring back to the office where I had been working for years in the Parking Service. I had come home.

The project should last a year and I was back amongst real (sic) friends.

From then to now … “The Only Way Is Up !”


The daily, weekly and monthly back-ups were a bit of a bind for most people, so as I had taken over the job, my popularity had begun to grow a little. However, this wasn’t to last. The scaling system for what was essentially junior office staff started with S1, then S1/2 then S3 followed by S4, S5 and S6. The S1 level was reserved for staff under the age of 18. These were very few and far between at this time, so most people in the Council were S1/2 or above. I had been there just over a year when the chap on the S3 level decided to leave. He wasn’t getting the promotion he expected and he had decided to go back to the private sector. This left an opening for 7 of us on the S1/2 scale.

I wasn’t going to apply, as I felt that 3 of the others had more experience than me and were probably better suited to the joOffice Deskb. It was one of the two Supervisors that told me to apply for a number of reasons, and it gave me food for thought. Then when the other Supervisor repeated the same reasons why I should apply, I decided to bite the proverbial and I completed the required application form (no CV’s in those days for the lower grades) and handed it in. I wasn’t expecting much, but knew that all internal applications were interviewed, so really I had nothing to lose. The interview went as well as could be expected and afterwards I felt that the manager may have gone a little easy on me. This was due to the comments the other 3 main rivals had made when they thought I was out of earshot. To cut a short story even shorter, I got the job and was due to start the following Monday. This, of course did not go down well with the other internal applicants, and it soon became clear that I was back to square one with, what were now the lower grades.

The main premise of the job was to be the first line answer to written correspondence about a parking ticket. An appeal letter would come in, it would be logged by one of the S1/2’s. They would also create a file for that correspondence, and it would be passed Excess Chargeto me. My job was then to read the letter, make a decision to progress it for payment, progress it higher or cancel the ticket. I would say about 95% of the appeals that came in failed with only 1 or 2 % going to a higher level. All the rest (3%) were cancelled.


TypistThe letter writing was something I had not seen before, although I understand that it was a standard practice. All replies were constructed using pre-written standard paragraphs with some even being standard letters. All I had to do was attach a piece of ‘scrap’ paper, with a series of letters and numbers ie P1, P4, P6 etc. This would then go with the file, to the typing pool who would type up the letter and return it for posting. There were no word-processing in those days. Most of the typists used huge Canon typewriters that had a little memory but nothing like what is in use today.

But I now had a little bit of faith that I could make it in an office situation.

From then to now …the training years


There were three trainees started in 1971. The previous year there was only one, so the money the department had saved could be used the following year. Those were the ‘good old days’ of the Health Service. For some reason, I started on the 23rd of August, with the other two (A****w and D***d)starting the following week. It caused a bit of friction with A****w when he realised what had happened. That year the August Bank Holiday was Monday the 30th and Tuesday the 31st. Me starting the previous week meant I was paid for the two days holiday. A****w and D***d started on the 1st September and as such were only paid from the 1st giving them only three days pay that first week. He never let me forget it either.

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One of the main selling points for the job at the hospital was that college Old Catering College would be ‘Day-Release’. this meant that one day a week I would go to the local catering college to learn my trade. The college was based just outside the city centre and was named after the first Lord Mayor of Leeds, Thomas Danby. There were other parts of the college dotted around Leeds but the first one I went to was on Whitehall Road. It is now a part of Leeds city Council, but that may and probably will change in the future as cuts may force the sale of the building.

College was a strange beast, throughout the four years. I would say 95% of the students in each tutor group of the college, were from either hotels or restaurants with majority being from some of the larger hotels in the region. This led to a great deal of snobbery from both the students and to some extent, Industrial Catering Boilermany of the tutors. Students from the ‘industrial’ side of catering were looked down upon as not proper chefs. We would all learn how to create a basic white sauce in a 1 pint pan and then I would go back to work and have to create 40 litres of the sauce using an industrial sized steam boiling pan.  This was something the other chefs could not even imagine, let alone know how to use. We were like the second class citizen of the catering world and this went on throughout the four years of training. But we just got on with it.

One lad, D***y had the problem really bad. He worked in Birkbecks, which was a café in the Leeds Market. The type of food they sold was typical of cafes Birkbecksof the time. Boiled ham sandwiches, bacon sandwiches full breakfasts, sausage and mash, pie and peas, although never fish and chips. It was the food that, at the time was what market traders and customers wanted.  It was good filling food and nothing fancy. He had a none too flattering name for the restaurant and hotel cooks … he called them “Lardys” because he thought them to be a bit “Lardy bloody da!” The name stuck with me for years.

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In the hotels, the trainees would move around the different cooking sections from time to time. One point they would be in the bakery or sweet section, then later they may moveLGI to the starter section and then maybe onto the fish section. The same happened in the hospital, but whilst I was training, we tended to move to different hospitals to learn the different skills. Leeds had two large main hospitals, St James and the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI). I worked at the LGI. But the wider Leeds had many other smaller hospitals, where we would learn the different aspects and diets associated hospital catering. All have gone now, but during my 4 years training, I spent time in most of them.

There was Cookridge Hospital which was a major centre for radiotherapy along side the IDA hospital. I spent 2 weeks at one of them learning about the diets for patients with cancer. There was the Leeds Womens Hospital which only admitted women patients.  The Leeds Maternity Hospital was the place I finished up in after my training. It had High Roydsgreat staff and a family atmosphere that the other places didn’t have. Another place I worked in, during those first four years was a hospital for people with mental health issues. High Royds or Menston Hospital, as it was sometimes known, was a secure hospital for the most severely affected patients. What could I learn here you may ask? Well this was the place I learned my butchery skills of all things. Most of the smaller hospitals did not have butchery section, so the meats were prepared at High Royds butchery for them. I was there for six weeks and had one of the best times.

At the end of the training, we were allocated to one of the the three kitchens in the hospital. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that year there was only two vacancies. I was shipped off to the Leeds Maternity Hospital to cover a staff member who was on long-term sick. I spent a very happy 12/13 months there before being forced back to the LGI where a vacancy had become available.

Next time: back to the LGI

Communications …


I’ve come to the conclusion that the work place is not an appropriate scenario for Instant Messaging. As the Council moves away from fixed office bases to a more mobile solution, the need for mobile communication has become greater. The reliance on mobile phone technology as opposed to fixed line, has increased some costs. Some see the way around these extra costs is the Instant Message provision that Microsoft offer. There are enormous benefits to this form of communications, but it also has its downside.

When it first arrived in the office, we were all amazed at the possibilities that email offered. However, it soon became a problem when it was a lot easier to email a colleague than to write a letter/memo and even more convenient than the telephone. Soon we were swamped with masses of email, that we either did not read, or spent most of our time reading rather than working.

Now we have the Instant Message. An email sits the receivers inbox until they read or delete it. Not the case with the Instant Message. The thing about Instant Messaging, is that it only works if both/all communicators are online. But I suppose the biggest downside (well for our scenario) is that, unless your ICT allows to to save your messages, once the conversation is over, all evidence of that conversation is gone. So when your manager says it is okay for you to leave early, there is nothing to back up your claim if your manager denies all knowledge of their agreement.

The other downside is that there is no hiding place. An email can be left until your ready to read it. A telephone can be ignored with the claim that the volume was turned down. An Instant Message is in your face. You cannot miss that persistent flashing icon on your task bar.

I will use the Instant Message tool at work … it’s Corporate. But I will always use email, if I need a record of a communication. It is so much safer.

Life changing day plus 8


When the doctor said that my angiogram appointment would not take long to come through, I was kind of thinking four to six weeks. We all know how the NHS works. Unless it’s an emergency, you wait. Well the doctor was more than right. My appointment is on Wednesday, the 12th of February, which considering that we only talked about it two weeks ago, is a pretty fast move. I’ve told my line manager, my service manager and my former colleague D***, and of course they are all very supportive, but I’m betting they’re more than a little concerned about the timescales. I still have to get some pyjamas!!

It also suddenly hit me that I had not spoken to the two people I supervise. I have been meaning to tell them. I’ve been meaning to get them both together in a room and explain what is happening. I just have not got around to it yet. There always seems to be some reason excuse why I have not said anything. So I’m going to do it the coward’s way. I shall send them an email. An apologetic email. I shall feel really bad about it (I do already) but I hope they understand the pressure I’m under. You see it’s not the op that I’m worried about. I thought I was worried about the recovery time, but it’s not that either really. No what worries me, is what happens while I’m away. I could be off work for three to five months, and a lot happens in a week these days given what the government is doing to public services. I had to explain to our finance person today. One of the things I have to do is run some nine or ten reports on the 1st of April. There was a problem last year, because D*** forgot to refresh the report (it has to save with data) and the finance person has no faith in D*** being able to do the job. I do have faith in him and I am thinking of emailing his manager to ‘fly the flag’ for him. As in the song ‘… there could be trouble ahead ….’

Now, back to what this thread is about. I don’t really think this has sunk in yet. I will have the angiogram next week and then wait. But for how long? A month? Three months? Or will it be the following week? I cannot really get anything straight in my head yet. I suppose with time it will come and the worries that others seem to have will start to form. Hopefully, this thread will help me.

Less than a week has passed …..


    So it has only been six days since post ‘500‘ and quite a bit has happened. One of my colleagues worked out the extra cost, for changing offices to £720.00 per year. In his email to the manager, he stated that this was the extra cost ‘….for each of us…‘ which is not quite accurate. For me, even if I worked at the City office every day my driving would be shortened by 70 miles a week. Working from home one day, would reduce it by another 30 miles per week. Taking it all into consideration, including a £15.00 per week parking cost, by extra cost would be £132.00 pa or £3.30 pw. I think I can manage that.

    What annoys me a lot, is the assumption that we all ‘have a problem’ with this new working practice. There are at least two of us that just seem to want to get on with it. It’s not as if we have any choice! We just have to make the best of it. Change affects people differently. At the end of the day, we will still have a job. We may be put out a little, but in the current economic climate in Britain, having a paid job is something to be thankful for. Of course, the Trades Union is involved at a high level, but we also have a local convenor in our office and his views (right or wrong) seem to be getting some attention. I tend not to take any notice of this person, as I think that his attitude sometimes shows that he is still living in the 1970’s.

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    Another problem cropped up with R*** on Friday. We live on the outskirts of Leeds. Our doctors, however is in Tadcaster. This means we receive our health care from North Yorkshire, and although it calls itself the National Health Service, effectively it is a localised service. So the problem is that R*** needs specialist dental care, because of his condition. Many dentists are very wary of treating people with special needs and Autism can be very scary if you are not fully aware of the issues autistic people face. He had to visit the Community Dental Practice on Friday. They examined him, and found his teeth to be doing okay, but then they dropped the bombshell. They told us, that because of recent changes by Government, they were no longer ‘allowed’ to treat him in Leeds as it was out of the catchment area. We would have to find another specialised dentist in North Yorkshire. It seems that there is one in Selby or York. This will have a serious effect with transport on his days at college and will mean whenever he has a dental appointment he would have to miss a day. We are not happy to say the least.

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    On a lighter note, the mini keyboard for tablet came. It is a lot smaller than I anticipated, and I’m yet to get it to actually work. The accompanying manual seems to have been converted/translated from the original Japanese and some of the words and phrases do not make much sense. Still I suppose you get what you pay for, as I found out with the cheap 32gb SD memory card, I bought. That does not work at all with the tablet. So ‘cheap and cheerful’ does not always pay off in the long run.

A little bit more ranting …


     I’ve just spent the past half hour posting replies to comments on our local online newspaper. I use the term ‘newspaper’ lightly in this case. I have stopped buying and even reading, physical editions of the press. To me it seems a little one way. With a hard copy, or paper copy if you prefer, the only way to have your voice heard is to write to the editor. He or she, then may or may not publish your letter/email when ever they see fit. With the online version, I can post or reply to a comment and it appears almost instantaneously. That is providing it complies within the terms and conditions. This to me, seems to be a far more interactive way of expressing ones feelings. I have to admit though, it can lead to my comments being ridiculed and attacked by some of the other people that contribute to the site. Like many online newspapers, there are a large number of people with right-wing tendencies, that seem to take delight in posting negative political and almost racist comments. I occasionally try and redress the balance.

     Work took an interesting turn on Friday. Our service manager called in at the end of the day, and asked to have a private word with me. The way things are going in the Council at the moment, it made me a little apprehensive. However, and I’m not supposed to say anything yet, she explained that that there might be an opportunity coming up in the next couple of weeks and that she wanted me to consider it carefully. Without going into any detail, it is an area that I did not think I have any experience in. I downloaded lots of information, and I may be doing myself down too much. I may just have enough limited knowledge to pass this off. If I get my head down and start reading all this information, who knows what may happen. Just hope I don’t tread on anybody’s toes!!

     The new car is living up to expectations. Now I’ve had it a couple of months, it’s getting more and more difficult to remember the old one. The mileage is better, although I’m not getting the 60mpg that i was led to believe. It’s more 48mpg, which is better than the 42mpg I was getting with the Ford, so it is an improvement, and with the low tax band, I will be saving. It still looks strange to see my car and S****’s car side by side in the car park. Especially as they have consecutive number plates!

     On a completely different track, I’m starting an online course on Monday 25th. I saw an article in the Guardian online, that explained a little about these ‘free’ courses. It is an organisation called Futurelearn and the quote from it’s website says:

“At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions.”

     I’ve signed up for a course about King Richard III. It is not something I know much about, but the discovery of his remains and the recent television drama about The White Queen, stirred my interest somewhat. It is free, so I have nothing to lose, and it may just benefit me should I attempt to go on Mastermind !!!! I’ve also signed up for a course in programming apps for smart phones, but that does not start until February 2014.

     A couple of post’s back, I mentioned a story idea that I had been planning. Well it is now into it’s fourth chapter, and the story will start to take a different direction. I will not say any more, but I may put an excerpt on here sometime. In fact, I have considered posting the whole story as weekly chapters, but I’ve not decided yet.

Just a quick update


     First thing to say, is “I have a new phone!!”  It’s not that I needed a new phone, but my contract had come to the end of the two year minimum, and my Sony-Xperia-Tprovider gives the chance of an upgrade. There was nothing wrong with the old one, but the new one has a more modern styling, more storage, better range of applications and the new contract, whilst costing a little more, is more suitable for my needs. It is not the latest model, by a long way, but it is still a good phone. To get the latest, would have cost me over £34.00 a month, with an upfront cost of £49.00. Not worth it.

     I didn’t mention previously, that we are having our ensuite updated, or more to the point, completely replaced. Mrs H was wanted it doing for a long time, and the breaking point came, when the shower packed in. Our usual ‘handy-man’ fitted a new one, but it never worked properly. According to the people fitting out the new room, it was totally the wrong type. It never occurred to me to do any before/after photos, so the only one I have is a ‘during’ picture. I will try and remember to do an ‘after’ picture when it is all done. As you can imagine, there are quite a few downsides to the whole project. The biggest two are, the dust, and Mrs H’s dread of taking a bath. In all the years we have been married, I can only think of a very few occasions that she has taken a bath. Always a shower. It has usually been, when we had showers installed/replaced or when we have been away. I prefer a bath to a shower. I love to just lie there and soak, with a nice drink and a good book (don’t try it with a Kindle though.)

     Latest news on the job front, is basically not much more than I knew last month. We’ve been assured, that there are more jobs to fill than staff to fill them, so it’s not a cost cutting exercise. We’ve also been told (not assured) that they are not looking to change grading system, so I suppose, that there is not too much to worry about. My main concern is where we will be based. Seven years ago, when our service moved out of the city centre to an industrial estate just off the M1 KAmotorway, I bought a small car. Using public transport would have meant two buses each way, with ten minutes waiting time between. Although a car is more expensive than public transport, it is far more reliable and convenient. One of the rumours is that we may move back to the city centre, to have a more central base. this would either mean, back to the bus, or pay out over £100.00 a month in car park fees. Now I know that does not sound a lot for city centre parking, but that is the charge in one of the council run multi-storey car parks. The charge has just been reduced from £9.00 to £5.00 all day to attract business. I’m worried, that once the business starts to pick up again, the the council will increase to price again!! We are having a team meeting on Thursday, so may hear a bit more then. It it quite typical of council managers to drip feed information, which has the effect of feeding the rumour mongers. I will update as and when.

Snow !!! Working from home


     The weather was a bit bad first thing this morning. I got up at about 5:15 as I was taking S**** to work at 6:45. At that time, there was very little snow about. Just some sleet that wasn’t really doing much. But by the time we left home, it was settling fast. R*** had woke up early too, and was very unsettled for some reason, so I dropped S**** off and came back home. Didn’t want to leave K*** alone with him too long. It had been my intention, to work at a different office today. One that is nearer than my usual base. By the time R*** should have been getting up, we had a good 3 inches of snow on the ground, and there seemed to be no stopping it. So a decision had to be made. Do we send him off to college (we decided to call it college as opposed to anything else) or do we let him stop at home. He stopped at home. I had also decided to do as I knew certain others would do, and work from home.

     Work from home!!! Now this was a new idea for me. My boss has always said, that if I needed to I could work from home. It had been sanctioned from above, and it appears that for certain staff, this is the future for the council. I had already set up my works laptop when I got back, but for some reason, it is always very slow to get logged in. Connecting to the network is fine, but being able to start work always takes a long time. I eventually got started at around 7:40, some thirty minutes after setting up. Everything worked very well, all considering. The network performed as well if not better than I could have expected, and I was not too distracted when K*** put the TV on. Even R***, bouncing around his room singing did not seem to be too much of a problem.

     So now I have another option for work. I already had decided to work one day a week in a different office, and I’m also making plans to work in my old office, one day a week. That is just until I can get the supervisor fully trained up, which should not take much longer, and now I know I can work from home.

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     We also learned, this week, that our team, along with some of the other system support teams are under review again. There are not many details been issued yet, but the rumour mill is in full swing. It seems that we are to become part of a new divisional IT department. That is all I know, except that there could be another worrying few months ahead. I will keep you posted.

Is a lie, a deterrent ?


     A strange question you may ask, but bear with me. At the end of the village, there are two bottle banks. The City Council is responsible for emptying them and I would say they do a satisfactory job for most of the time. The problem arises when the banks get full. People want to ‘do their bit’ but are not prepared to come back another day, if the banks are full. They just leave them at the side of the banks, in the vain hope that when they get emptied, the contractor will put their bottles in for them. At best, they just get smashed by kids, as behind the bottle bank, is an area that some kids tend to use as a den. It is about three metre square and has a hedge, backing onto a field, which is how the kids get in. It is an ideal place for them to drink their cheap cider and smoke whatever they are smoking these days. Basically get involved in anti-social behaviour.

     Now, how does the Council overcome this. Do they make sure the kids cannot get to the back of the bottle banks? Do they ask the Police to patrol more in that area? Do they write to the parents, telling them what some kids are getting up to. None of those, and this is where my post title comes in. The Council has put a sign up advising everyone that CCTV is in operation !! Well, you might say, that would be a deterrent. It would, if there was a CCTV camera in place. As it is, there is nowhere to put a camera. What would it show? All it would show, is people putting bottles into a bottle bank. As the kids get into their ‘den’ from the field behind, it would not pick them up. So, is a lie a deterrent ? Not in my book is isn’t.

The new desk and other things


    Well moving to the new desk went as well as could be expected. Most people seem to have accepted the fact that I need a base to work from. I think the main issue could be, that I am sharing a room with my manager. I could be perceived as being a spy in the camp. Also in the same room is the person to whom I was supposed to be partnering in this job. However, she is working on other things for the service head, and could also be seen as a spy. Devious people, these council office types.

     I’ve decided to push forward with the writing again. I joined an online group, and posted my initial short story,The Well, warts and all. I have had two favourable comments, with more advice on how to expand and develop the idea. So I’m looking at that again. I’m toying with the idea of setting the tale in an old windmill. That should open the scope a little more. However I need to find a way of incorporating the well back into the story (I nearly typed narrative there …… I have no idea why) and am thinking that there could be some kind of outhouse that may have been built over the old well. That is going to take some thinking about. I have also been toying around in my head, how to make it into a play, but that is a long way off yet, and I don’t know how popular a one person play would be.

     I have also started writing a short story about someone that works on a computer helpdesk. I’m not too sure what narrative mode to use. I have started in first person mode, but not too sure if it will be the right one for the story. Basically, you get to hear what is happening in the helpdesk call centre, but you only get to hear the customers, when the helpdesk people repeat things back. This may not work as I hope, and I may have to change the narrative mode to third person. Early days yet.

A little more ….


   Today has gone very well. The cold that started on Friday has hit the ‘tickly cough’ stage and the runny nose and sneezing has all but gone. I should be fully fit(ish) by tomorrow. Youngest has been really good this weekend, with no real issues at all. In fact, he has been quite the comedian, and good fun. 

   We heard from the eldest tonight. Mrs H has been a bit worried over the weekend. He was going to St Albans, with his ex girlfriend (it’s complicated) to see Eddie Izzard. It appeared to us that very little had been organised, and Mrs H was worried that it would all go pear-shaped. Apparently, it did not !!

   Work is on a knife edge at the moment. Nothing seems to have changed, but I get the impression that the manager is working very hard to keep the section together. Most of the staff can’t see this of course, and can’t see what could happen to our team, so most of them are carrying on as if ‘the cuts’ won’t affect us. Even my line manager thinks that, if the job get contracted out, “they’ll need a contact manager to oversee the contract”. Well, yes they will, but it won’t be you !!!!!! None of us have any experience of contract management, so wake up !!!!! If the job can be done by a council worker, it can be done by anyone … we are not special. So get off your arses and work like you need the job, because if the ConDems get their way, you are going to need a job !!! Here endeth the sermon/rant for today!

Nearly the weekend


   Well, the eldest did not manage to get up at 07:00 this morning. It was never on the cards really, and I don’t now why we thought he would be. He did not get back in until gone midnight, and was posting messages on facebook at 02:00am. We need to be a bit more forceful when he is here, and try and make sure he is up by 09:00 at the latest. The problem is, that because he has not had to get up for Uni, he sleeps late. It then follows that he is not tired enough at what is a ‘normal’ bedtime. And so, his body clock is completely out of synch. He will have to be up early on Saturday and Sunday though, as both him and his flat mate are working those days.

   Another IT disaster today. This time is was the whole council wide network that had problems. It started around 12:00, when people found they were having problems logging into the network. Those that did manage to log in, were having difficulties accessing certain applications. By 2:00pm most of the council was affected, and the IT help desk, was pushing out a message to the effect, that all the servers needed to be restarted,which would be done tonight. And that is how it was left. Of course, many of my colleagues thought they knew better than me and continued to try and log in. It is getting increasingly difficult to explain to some of these people, that when I say ‘the whole network is down…’ that it also applies to them too, and that they are not a special case.

   Youngest goes on respite tomorrow. Sad though it seems, both Mrs H and me are avidly looking forward to the break. He will be back on Monday, after school, so not too long. It is strange, though. Although we are ready for a short rest, we will miss him when he is not there. When he goes for a week, it seems a lot longer, and we start to look forward to him coming home. Then he kicks off, and we start looking at the calendar for his next respite (joking). I just hope that the current bout of good weather holds out for the weekend. We both need to get of the house for a while. R*** always says a firm ‘No’ to any suggestion that we go out. Even if it is something he enjoys, it is always ‘No’. We do get to have a walk round the village sometimes, but it is a struggle, and often can be painful.

   Right, that will do for now. Wish me luck for work tomorrow.

Leeds Fest’ is coming…..


   Well the Leeds Festival kicks off tomorrow. Many of the roads around here were starting to get a bit busier than normal. It looked like a number of people, were already moving onto the site this afternoon, and the music doesn’t even start until Friday lunchtime. Some of the gate bouncers have been in place since Sunday. The guy at the gate on the new access road between Bramham and the A64 was stood in the rain, by the side of his ‘port-a-loo’ at 07:30 morning, and he was still there at 05:00 this evening !!!! There seems to be an air of excitement about the village. It was all the talk at the quiz-nite, especially the people that have not been before. S**** is really looking forward to it. He was busy packing his rucksack with clothes and his camping stuff. Mrs H fussing round, trying to make sure he has everything he needs. That’ll be another 4 nights she’ll have trouble sleeping no doubt.

   Have been given a fantastic offer from Microsoft. Because the Council I work for, is now part of a Microsoft collaboration scheme, all staff are able to download a copy of Office 2007 Ultimate for home use. We can use it while ever we are an employee or while ever the Council is part of the scheme. The cost to the user of this offer, is an amazing £8.50 to download !!! Now as I intend to stay with the Council until I retire (which will be at least 9 years) I think it is an outstanding bargain. The caveat is, that if I leave the employ of the Council, I should stop using the software. How will they know, if I’m still using it ?? By that time, there will have been at least another 8 new versions, and I should think it impossible for Microsoft to have the wherewithal to monitor the possible 10,000+ copies that could be in use by employees ! The only problem I foresee, is the time it takes to download the software …… all 508mb. I will have to pick a time when the internet is quiet.

   My new RAM arrived today. I’ll try and install it either tomorrow or Friday. I’m hoping it will make a bit of difference to the speed. It will take the PC up to 2gb of memory, which is the highest the motherboard will run. I will then have to decide whether or not to install one of old hard discs, that I have in the loft. It is not hard to do, but I think I will try and get some advice from one of my ‘Geek Sites’. Just to be on the safe side.

It seems to be getting easier


Mrs H took the youngest to see S****’s flat today. Well that was not the main reason for going, I suppose, and neither was taking the small table and chairs. No I think she had to go round for herself. Just to convince herself that he is coping. From what it sounds, he realised this and reacted accordingly. I just hope, that she gives it a lot longer before she rings up to go again. I can see him getting upset if she tries to go every week.

My pedometer arrived this morning. Apparently, it was sent on the 23rd July, but was left on someone else’s desk. A person who was on leave until today. Not that is much use. When I took if off my waistband when I got home, it showed that I had done 9 steps !!!! It looks like the Council has bought the cheapest it could find. Although knowing the way things operate in the Council, it probably was not the cheapest. I noticed straight away that the LCD screen was blanking out  when I was sat. I understand that all I need to do was start walking again to carry on the count. However, even the slightest brush of any of the buttons, and the thing resets. I have another one that I intend to use. I may complain, but as it will not do much good, I may not. I think I calculated, that I had done about 5,000 steps. I know I did 2,000, when I went out at lunchtime, and over the rest of the day it must have added up. It is still a long way off the 10,000 I should be doing.

Work was okay today. I managed to get through all I intended to. A bit less to do tomorrow, although I should be able to spin it out. S**** M******* did not say a word to me today. Spent most of the day talking to P***, so he wasn’t too pleased. It looks like G*** is applying for a temporary job to cover maternity leave. It is a higher grade, but the problem with temporary jobs is just that ……they are temporary. She will come back !!!! Like a bad penny as they used to say.

Done for now.