Fifty years on . . .


After a recent online chat with an old school friend, we both realised that he had forgotten a few things from those last days, and so had I. So, I thought it would be a good idea if I made a written record of some of the things I can still remember.

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From early on in my final year, there were rumblings about students going to university. It is interesting to note, that in year five, we were now students as opposed to being school kids. The previous year saw 20% of the students go on to university and the teachers (yes, they were still teachers and not tutors) were hoping to improve on that percentage. The previous year had twenty students, but my year had only 16. That meant that if the same number of students went on to university, the percentage would rise to 25% which had the teaching staff chomping at the bit, so to speak.

We had some informal discussions with our form teacher regarding what we wanted to do, what we could do and what was expected of us at the end of year five. I had this idea that I would have liked to be a Technical Draughtsman. I was excellent at Technical Drawing and coupled with my math skills, meant I had a good chance of realising that ambition.

In January 1971, the formal career discussions began. I outlined my ‘ambitions’ to my form teacher who also happened to be the Careers Officer for the Education Authority. That discussion, which lasted a mere twenty minutes shattered any dreams I had of becoming a draughtsman. It was explained that I would first need to go to university for two years (pushing the university theme again) followed by a three year course at a technical college, with a two year apprenticeship after that. The very thought of another five years of full-time education, and then earning a pittance as an apprentice was not something I wanted even to consider. I was told to go home that night, have a talk with my parents and come up with some other options. He said I should have a think about the things I liked to do, hobbies and such like. I didn’t think I could become a professional Airfix model maker or eastern European stamp collector, which were my only hobbies at the time.

It was a neighbour that came up with the cooking idea. I did like cooking and was, even though I say it myself, quite good at it. But then again after discussing this with my form teacher it became obvious that it would be a two year full time course at catering college.

At the time my maternal grandmother, who had recently retired from a clerical job, was working for her next door neighbour. The family owned a local Italian restaurant, and my grandmother was washing up three nights a week. For some reason, she had been invited to have a meal with some of her close family as a celebration. I have an idea that the place had been open for five years. Whilst we were eating, the owner was told that I was interested in cooking for a living, but that I wasn’t happy doing a full-time catering course. He said that he could only take on trained Italian chefs but would keep his ears open.

It was then that something, which I still find a little bizarre happened. A fellow diner at the next table apologised that he had overheard the conversation but wanted to offer a suggestion. He explained that his younger brother had wanted to be a cook but had had no luck in finding anywhere suitable. He told us that his brother had then seen an article in the local newspaper advertising a training scheme for cooks at one of the local hospitals. He went on to explain that his brother would be in a working kitchen, earning money but at the same time going to college one day a week to learn how to cook professionally. It sounded like a great idea, and it could be just what I was looking for. Training and getting paid. Best of both worlds. We asked at the local career’s office and they investigated it for us.

Schofields of Leeds

At the beginning of September, I had left school and was working as a porter at a large department store in the centre of Leeds. I received a letter one morning asking me to come for an interview at the Leeds General Infirmary. My Dad went with me, but if I remember correctly all the questions were directed at me. It seemed to go well, and I was quite pleased with how I had handled the interview. A week later, I received another letter asking me to go back for another interview. I was convinced that I hadn’t got the job. But everyone told me that you don’t get a second interview if you haven’t got the job. They were correct. I was asked if I was still interested, to which I seem to remember blurting out “Yes please!”

I was asked to start at the beginning of August and had to explain to my manager at the department store that I was leaving. I was told that I should have given a months’ notice, but as I had only been there eight weeks, a months’ notice would not have been very practical.

And that’s how I started my working life in full.

Beyond belief …


Sometimes, things happen that are quite honestly “Beyond Belief.” Our youngest son sometimes proves that. R… is 28 and Autistic. We are gradually phasing him in to full time residential. At present he goes on Monday morning and returns 11 days later for a weekend visit. He gives us the impression that he really enjoys  his life there.

ppeHe has a regular care-team, his own flat and his own motorbility car. During the ‘lock-down’ he went on the 23rd March and did not return until 10th July. Then again he went on the 19th October and was not allowed home, under the rules until 11th December.

All this, he seemed to take in his stride. In fact, we were more stressed and traumatised than he seemed to be. His care team kept us well informed  and rang everyday to let us know what he had been up to and with a weekly FaceTime we just about got through it.

White-one.jpgNow the interesting thing is that his daily life there is different to here. He does things there that we could never even dream he would do. When he is here, his daily routine is to sit in his room, with his laptop and TV. He will come downstairs for his lunch, then goes back to his room and that is it. Occasionally he will come back downstairs and use my laptop for a while.

Whilst in his flat, and this is the thing that amazes us, he takes on household jobs. We have photos of him mopping his kitchen floor, cooking his dinner (usually beans or sausage rolls) loading the washing machine and various other tasks around the place.

He was able to come here for Christmas, although there were times when it looked impossible, but his care-manager and all the teams put enough precautions in place for it to happen, so on Christmas Eve he came home. He would have had to come here anyway as he has a hospital appointment on Tuesday at which his legal guardian (horrible phrase) has to be present.

Now, on Christmas morning, we witnessed first hand something Lichfield Cathedralthat completely amazed us both. In fact, I still cannot get my head around it. My wife and me were downstairs getting things ready, as you do when I that he hadn’t had his morning drink of milk. I took his cup upstairs.

There was some typical Christmas church music playing and I assumed that my wife had not turned the radio off. How wrong I was. Normally, he would have one of the children’s channels on his TV , and he would also have a children’s YouTube video playing on his laptop.

CanterburyNot today. The TV was turned down and he had on his laptop a video of a Christmas church service. This played for an hour and a half before he started another similar video. I later found out that the first one was the Christmas Eve service from Lichfield Cathedral from 2000 and the second one was the previous nights service from Canterbury Cathedral.

By lunchtime he was back to watching old episodes of The Telly Tubbies as if nothing had happened. He did used to go to the local church to see the Christmas service when he was a school, but how he made the decision to watch that kind of video at that particular times, amazed us both

Writing and Not Writing – #writing101


What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking?

Well I basically get on with life. Writing is something I do to fill a gap in the day, but it’s not at the top of day-to-day list. The small amount of writing I do is just a hobby. One of a number that do. I’m not such an accomplished writer that it can be anything else but a hobby. One of the reasons for my joining this challenge, was to improve my writing, and I think it is beginning to work.

But I enjoy …….

  • Reading (fiction and non)
  • Walking
  • Social media
  • Listening to music
  • Cooking and eating

Then the more unusual ……

  • Knitting
  • Ironing (clothes)

The rest of the time is spent working, sleeping and coping with life in general.

Stress Factor – Not X Factor


This of course relates to work. Not exclusively, but in the main, it’s all work related. The latest restructure is beginning to have it’s effect on the team (and I use the term loosely.) Tempers are getting a little frayed and certain people are beginning to jockey for position. For me, it seems that I’m being, shall we say ‘realigned’  workwise. When I was interviewed for the job, there was no mention of it being a supervisory role. However, about four months ago, my line manager advised me that our service manager wanted me to supervise, the two staff below me. It was a bit of a shock, and to be honest, it’s not what I wanted from the job.

Last week, in our so called ‘one-to-one’ meeting I explained to my line manager about my understanding of the job, and not knowing that I was expected to be a supervisor. I was then told that I was being manoeuvred for a higher position in the the new structure. Now considering that the new structure seems to be very fluid, I have no idea what that position could be.

I don’t like supervising people. I’ve done allsorts of training and I still don’t like it. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I appear to have two supervisory methods. My catering method and my office method. The catering method, and it is used extensively in the trade, is to shout and swear very loudly until the job is done. My office method is more of a sweet talking method. The ‘can you do me a favour’ method. Unfortunately, these are not interchangeable.

It is the thought of being a supervisor, that is causing some of the stress. That and having some people having a higher expectation of me than I think I can deliver.

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     You’ve heard of the famous ‘mid life crisis’? Well I always understood that to be around the 45 to 55  years of age. If that’s correct, then I am just beyond the tail end of of that condition. But here is the worrying thing. I have started listening to Radio 1 on the way to work. In the old car, I always listened to Radio Leeds, mainly for the traffic news. In the new car, the radio is completely different, and I’ve not worked out why local radio stations don’t pick up so well. So after a couple of mornings, I pressed the button for the said Radio 1, and I quite enjoyed the music and the banter of the current breakfast show.

     Now you may not think of this as such an issue, and neither did I, until I started purchasing some of the music I heard. This car plays MP3 tracks and has a USB port. All this leads to me buying a 32gb memory stick and copying lots of this newly discovered music. I know listen to Radio 1 in the morning, and the rest of the time, I am belting out tracks from the likes of ‘Example’, ‘Professor Green’, ‘Labyrinth’ and even ‘Jessie J’, When I mention this to people, they just raise their eyes, shake their heads and laugh to themselves. It is a new beginning. I am saved from from the perpetual boredom of local radio. God bless Tinie Tempah. Now,  if you will excuse me, I’m going to listen to a couple of tracks from Wretch32 before bed.

It’s been a while….


     The title of this post says it all really….. it has been a while since my last post. But I’ve not had a lot to say !!! Well not anything that may be described as interesting. Work is still the same … no more news on the review/restructure. Still the usual issues with R***, the youngest. Oh, but wait a minute. I almost forgot ….. S****, the eldest lad has got a new girlfriend. And this time, they are both giving out the ‘hey guys, this is a serious relationship’ signals !!!! No, all joking apart, they’ve been together about a month, that we know about, and they seem very very happy. We have met her parents, even been for a meal together, which was quite a pleasant evening. It is so serious, that the grandmothers have met !!!! Need I say more !!

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     Now, about this blog. I am struggling at time to think of something to write about. I have no specialist knowledge that I can pass on, so it is basically a random record of my life. Now, I’m not sure if that is enough to blog about. For the majority of the time, it follows the same pattern ….

  1. I wake up
  2. I go to work
  3. I come home
  4. I have dinner
  5. We cope with R***
  6. We go to bed
  7. We sleep with one eye and one ear open
  8. Goto item 1.

And that for the main part is it. Exciting what !!

     At this moment in time, I am sat here, with a glass of Brandy, waiting for R*** to settle, and S**** to get in from the pub. I feel absolutely buggered and I’m up at six in the morning to start the whole shebang again. What a life !!!! Tell you what though ….. would not have it any other way !!! (Note to self…. stop bloody moaning then…)

What, when and why blog ?


     And I think you can add “How” to that list too. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, well to be exact, I have had a blog for a couple of years. Over the past few weeks/months, I have been thinking about what it means to me. So I have decided to put down in writing “What, when and why I write a blog. Hopefully it might be generate some interest. I can but try.

What

     Well, I suppose what I write about is me. My opinions. My perspective on life, if you please. I sometimes write on topical subjects, but it is mainly about my life at home and work and family. A lot of the stuff I write is things that anger me. And there are a lot of things that anger me! It is a kind of release, when I can put down in words the frustration I sometimes feel. But then again, I often write, just about things that have happened. Everyday mundane things, and often when I read them back, I think ‘does anyone really read this rubbish’. I’ve often wondered if I would be better picking a subject, and writing about that. That is one of the main thoughts that passes through my head, when I sit down to write a blog post.

When

     I don’t have a fixed schedule for blogging. I just do it when  ever I fell like it. Or if there is something I want to get off my chest. When I first started, I wrote every day. Not large volumes, just a paragraph or two. I soon found that trying to keep that up was difficult. Quite often I write when something has happened that is out of the ordinary. I suppose most of the time, I write late at night, whilst waiting for the youngest to get off to sleep. Mrs H goes off to bed, then for then next half hour or so, we try and get R*** to settle. That 30 or 40 minutes is when I like to write. Very occasionally, I will write something at work, and email it to myself, to write up in the blog later.

Why

     Now that is the big question! Why? Why do I write a blog? In the beginning, I think it was because it appeared to be the thing to do. After all, everyone was blogging weren’t they ? Well I very soon realised that not everyone was doing it. In fact, out of a department of around 70 people, I was the only one blogging. As I was writing something every day, it became like a kind of diary. But that was not what I wanted. I did not want to bore anyone who read my stuff, with mundane day to day trivialities. Now, one of the reasons I blog, to keep up my interest in writing. I want to write more creatively, and have been advised, that I should ‘just write and write often’.

     I was asked recently, if I get lots of comments or hits on my blog. I of over egged and said yes. In reality, I don’t get many hits and I get very few comments, but it does not stop me. So I suppose, that one of the main reasons for writing a blog is to be read. To have something to say that might be of interest to someone else.

How

     My main blogging client, is Windows Live Writer. I have used Blogdesk, which was very good, but does not work with Windows 7. I also tried a strange program (or should I be very trendy and call it an ‘app’) called Raven, or Zoundry Raven. I did not have much luck with that one. I recently had a trial at using Word 2010. It was okay, there was a lot it could do, but as a fellow blogger said “….it was like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut…..” and I think that just about sums it up. For the time being, Live Writer ticks all the boxes.