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 There were 20 of those, so it was often out of date before the kitchen staff got their hands on it.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.

Going to be a looong day …


So, today is the day we are getting our new bathroom. R*** went gone off on respite at 9 am, and the fitters arrived a few minutes later. A combination of good planning and timing I think. The estimate is 7 to 10 working days, but from what I can see of the bathroom, 7 days is probably the more nearer timescale.

It comes though, at a time when lots of things seem to be going wrong. Eldest son, is splitting up from his girlfriend, which is a big issue in itself, but that’s compounded by the fact that they are buying a house together. He is on quite a low salary, but feels as we do that he needs to keep the house. Selling it would not realise the finance needed to pay off the mortgage, and would leave him in a financial hole that would be difficult to climb out of. K*** and her sister are with him this morning, talking to a mortgage adviser about his options. It has been a very stressful few days. He was hoping that it could be resolved quite amicably, but that does not seem to be happening. Then to cap it all, whilst he was taking his neighbours to the airport on Saturday, he managed to get himself a speeding ticket. That old adage of “It never rains, but it pours” seems more truer by the day.

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One of the things that annoys me on forums and similar websites, is some peoples lack of gratefulness. I mean when you help someone, surely the proper thing to do is at least acknowledge the helper if not thank them. Recently on one such forum, a member was having a problem. Another member had looked at it and could not help much. I felt I knew what the problem was and thought I knew how to solve it. I posted my views, feeling rather pleased with myself. The member that tried to help gave a virtual ‘pat on the back’ and told me that it looked like I had solved it. The original poster …nothing. I’ve just answered another post for another member. See what happens this time

Another stressful day


It was a quite stressful day today. It’s the end of the financial year, so certain reports have to be done. As usual, the reports did not do what the ‘finance whizz kids’ wanted them to do. It’s a bit annoying. Seven years ago, the software house told us that they would write any report we wanted, they just need to know what was wanted. The ‘whizz kids’ did nothing! As a consequence, I had to write the reports. The thing is, I am not an expert (more an expert now than I was) so the reports I write are very basic. At the end of the day, it all got sorted. It gets a bit heated between me and the finance manager. It’s not anger, more frustration, not helped by a certain line manager (soon to be ex) who seems to like to wind things up a bit. However, at the end of the day, it all got sorted, and the finance manager and me are still friends. That has got to say something!! We can have four or five hours at each other’s throats, and then when it’s all done, we are still mates.

I told my line manager (SM) that I had got a new position. He arrived at around half nine, and it took him until half ten, before he spoke to me. Then it was a beckoning wave and a “when you’ve had your chat, can I have a word?” Told him I was waiting to see my new boss, and then I would come and see him. His face was a picture. As I have mentioned, I did not get the job that ‘they’ wanted me to get. So he was not very pleased that, I was not going to be at his beck and call. My colleague, D*** was most supportive, and I felt he was quite pleased for me. Some of the others though, were still talking about ‘what are we going to do ……’ and ‘who will do this ….’ To be frank, and to misquote, “Frankly my dears, I don’t give a shit (damn)”

Another post ….start of something ??


   That tickly cough I mentioned, turned into a full blown chesty experience. Not a good start to the day at all. Then to cap it all, one of my colleagues (termed used loosely) came into work, and glibly announced that he had a chest infection. No thanks mate, I already have my own (or someone’s !!)

   I had to do a finance training course today. Those guys have as many weird and wonderful words and acronyms, as IT people have. At least I can understand the IT stuff. What is ‘negative credit’ actually ? Still it was a useful course, and the trainer was interesting. It should have lasted 3 hours, but we got it down to just under 2, so not bad. Testing time will be later this week, when I have to put what I learned into practice.

   Day off tomorrow (Tuesday). Mrs H has a hospital appointment, so we will have the rest of the day in York. Hope the weather picks up a little as the forecast is not too good.

   Eldest had an interview today for a part-time job. He has not worked in well over year, and finances have hit rock bottom. Well they hit rock bottom quite a while ago, and have not got any better. He did a couple of days last weekend, but it is not enough. Unfortunately, every student is looking for part-time work at the moment, so our fingers are crossed for him.

A struggle to post sometimes …


   Well, we did not go to the quiz after all. The weather wasn’t too good, and I was a bit tired. There are many nights when I just cannot be bothered, and just want to sit and read, or listen to some music.

   The IT stuff got sorted. The folders that the staff needed access to are only available to staff who have a certain application, and although all the staff can see the folders, only certain ones can do anything with them. I have no idea why they do it that way.

   It was Mrs H’s birthday on Sunday. Eldest came over for the weekend, and they both went to the local music event. It is usually me that goes with S****, but we all thought it would be nice if him and K*** went. I think she enjoyed it. You never can tell, especially when she says things like ‘It was different’ and ‘I did not know what to expect’.

    A busy day coming up on Wednesday. It is the end of the financial year and I have a number of reports to run. We did a test run last week, and the Finance Manager (did I really capitalise that) seemed happy with them. Fingers crossed things stay that way.

   Youngest is supposed to be going to the dental hospital on Thursday. Trouble is he has started with a cold, and I don’t think they will let him have the treatment if he has a cold. Still, it will be another day off, and I think I will have earned it.

Nearly the weekend


   A very busy day today. With it being the 1st day of the month, I had some finance reports to do. It is quite ridiculous really. The team I create the reports for, have access to the data, and the reporting tools, but claim to ‘not have the skills’ to manipulate that data into a readable form. It’s just a spreadsheet with, with a lookup table !!! Nothing difficult. Still, it keeps me in a job. It makes me laugh sometimes. We get new finance people in, and I think they are going to be able to do some of my work, and they never can. So the work stays with me.

   Our Call Centre Management system was back up and running again today. It appears, that the PC we were running the system on, was not up to the job. Couple that with the problems they had when the contractor updated the server, meant we needed to upgrade our PC. Now with our IT department, upgrade, means money for IT. However, the guy that came down to sort the problem said he was not interested in cost, but only interested in fixing the problem. I must keep this chaps number. Is this boring ??????

    I had a bit of a headache this morning. I did not bother with coffee when I got in last night, and that is always fatal, after a few drinks. I am of the opinion, that coffee seems to absorb some of the alcohol, and stops me dehydrating. Well that’s my theory. It’s true though, if I don’t have a cup of coffee, before I go to bed, I end up with a hangover the next day.