Here we go . . .


I’ve been wondering when it would start. I kept checking the update and security page but nothing showed. Then this morning around about 11:00am, I noticed that my laptop was very slow. Files were taking minutes rather than seconds to move. Opening documents was even slower. I wondered if I had got a virus or some malware had found it’s way in. I tried to look at Task Manager to see what was running in the background, but that didn’t seem to want to open. It soon became obvious that I had a serious issue. I opened the settings and then saw it. The Windows Update icon was showing that it “… needed attention …” It could only mean one thing. I had run the regular, what Microsoft calls ‘Cumulative update’ only yesterday and Windows Defender updated at the same time. It must be a system update. Of course when I opened the Update page, there it was … I was being updated to version 20H2 which is the current latest version for my machine.

I literally groaned. This was the update that took over 11 hours to run, on my other machine. The system told me that it was at 46% downloaded, which considering that I only just noticed the problem gave me the notion that it may be quicker this time. At time of writing (14:40) we are now at 89% installed, which seems to be going quite well 🤞.

I hate updates! It’s all the uncertainty that surrounds an update … will it work … will it be slower or faster … will it break the machine? Although, what worries me more, is when will it happen to my youngest son’s machine. His autism would not let him understand why is machine is slow, and why it keeps shutting down and restarting. They have an IT team at his care home, but I’m not sure how they will cope, if one of his care team shut’s his laptop down while it is updating.

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It’s my birthday next week, and it’s one of the ‘biggies’. Yes, on Tuesday I will be an officially, state registered ‘old bugger’. Birthdays and the related age number doesn’t usually bother me. I never feel any different and it’s another day for me. However others seem to think that I need to celebrate! No, I don’t! Somebody once said to me “What am I celebrating? That I have managed to get this far or that I’m just one year nearer the grave.” I don’t quite think along those lines, but I do wonder what the point is. However, I am duty bound to at least try and enjoy the day and I will put a brave face on (hopefully).

We are apparently going out for a meal at a pub/restaurant close to where the eldest son lives. We have been before, but it’s a long time ago. Will have been about 30/35 years ago. I don’t remember much about the place and I probably still won’t when I get there. I have had look at the menus, and I’m not sure. They seem to be these ‘trendy’ menus that have things like ‘Grilled Squash’ and ‘Halloumi chips with sriracha yogurt’. There is the obligatory ‘Vegan’ burger and there is something that they call ‘Shepherdess pie’ which is made with lentils and curried parsnips! It’s going to a long day I think.

Not really retirement, but . . .


This post is an attempt at a response to the Weekly Prompts Wednesday Challenge (fingers crossed I get this right)

Back at the beginning of 2016 our Head of Service, brought our team together for it’s monthly ‘Team Talk’. The theme, if you could call it that, was staff cuts. There had been a lot of hushed chatter among some of the more senior members of the team regarding the reduction of office staff in the department. The Council’s solution was a programme called ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI. What people liked to think was that it was Early Retirement, but was actually Voluntary Redundancy, with the benefit of being able to draw down the works pension scheme early, albeit slightly reduced.

It was made clear to everyone in the room, that the Department were looking for ‘volunteers’ to take advantage of this. It was also clear that this was a case of ‘jump before you are pushed’. If that had been the case, then it would have been compulsory redundancy, with no arrangement to take the pension early. After a lot of discussion at home, I decided I would go for it.

Not the real cake!

The day came, and it seemed to be just like any other day. I was taking calls and trying to keep my excitement under control. My manager asked what time I wanted to leave, and I had worked out my hours so that I could finish at three pm. At about half past two the office manager appeared with a large cake which was shared with the staff on duty. It was significant that my line manager and the service head weren’t present.

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I decided that I would have a couple of weeks living the life of luxury, then get a part time job. It took a lot longer for something to come up. After about 18 months, my current part-time job suddenly happened. Now furloughed (as at 11/03/2021) I am now just waiting to return. It is not looking god, but I will have to just wait and see. But . . . on the 19th April this year (2021) I will have reached my state pension age and will have to decide the future. Do I carry on with two days a week? Or do I cut down to one day a week? Or . . . do I just stop all together?

From Then to Now … Journeys end


It was an unusual way for me to find a job. I had been on LinkedIn for quite a few years, and it never really had much for me. It was basically just a way of staying in touch with colleagues that didn’t use the ‘normal’ social media platforms. I had entered all the usual details about me, but never used job hunting. Oddly enough, I was scrolling through some of the bizarre jobs that it was deemed I would be interested in, when one came up that seemed to tick all my boxes. It was part-time, local, no responsibilities and paid what was expected for the role. It was advertised as a ‘Kitchen Porter/Assistant’ in a small but popular local cafe, and I could apply by just clicking a button. This apparently sent my ‘CV’ to the employer and just over an hour later, I received a phone call asking me to call in for an informal interview.

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The interview went very well, and to this day, I still think that I was interviewing the owner as I seemed to ask more questions than he asked. He confirmed the hours and rate of pay and then asked if I wanted to see where I would be working. I said it would be a good idea and he took me to the kitchen. He pointed out all the parts of the kitchen and then went into great detail about how to use the dishwasher and what to do if if got blocked. I was then shown the food store and he explained the procedures for dealing with the waste bins. He told me that the cafe was a very busy environment and it would be a very rare occasion if I was needed to work over-time. We agreed that I should have a ‘trial run’ the following Monday and we could take it from there.

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The Monday came and I was introduced to the chef and the table staff and the job started. It was hard and heavy work at times, but all the team were nice to work with and I enjoyed my trial day. It came to light during the course of the day, that two of the waitresses knew my eldest son and had worked with him for a time. By the end of the day I was a little tired, but generally speaking was pleased how the day had gone. I was paid ‘cash-in-hand’ for the day and and was told “See you on Monday then!” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement to which I agreed “Yes. See you on Monday!” I had a job, and when I looked back, I had come full circle. I had been a Kitchen Porter/Assistant in my first job after leaving school and I was back doing more or less the same job.

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I am now furloughed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and if I’m honest with myself I can not see me going back to work there if and when the cafe reopens. It will be simply impossible to have the number of tables that we currently have and less tables means less customers, which in turn means the need for a reduction in staff. The kitchen is not much bigger than the average domestic kitchen, so safe distance working would be difficult. However I may just be proved wrong.

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This brings me to the end of this series of posts. I hope you have enjoyed my journey as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

From Then to Now … Decisions, Decisions


It’s the end of March and things had not got much better. Our usual whole-team meetings were now bi-monthly and there were rumours flying around about possible job losses. The head of our service had called a special meeting as he put it “To discuss certain issues!” He was quite up front from the start. The department had to save £XYZ the next financial year and that there could/would be job cuts. But there was good news too. The Early Leavers Initiative (see this post) that I had been rejected for was now looking at every application with a view to acceptance. The caveat was that it was a time-limited offer and we would have to work fast, because after the offer finished, the early link to the work pension would no longer be available.

My initial reaction was not a very positive one. I took the view that I was too important before, so I was too important now! After my initial thoughts had calmed down a little, I talked it over with my wife and decided that there was no harm in applying again, especially as I was no longer IT ‘king-pin’ that has been before my heart operation. And of course, if I was not happy with the offer I would be getting, I could always refuse it and carry on.

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The offer came through at the end of April and it was about what we were expecting. So after more talk and lot of soul searching, we decided it was the best thing. We decided that I should carry on until the end of October as this would give us more time to make any plans we needed. My idea was that I would take about 6 months off, doing jobs around the house that I had not had time to do, then start to look for some part-time work. I knew that after half a year, I could possibly apply for my old job back in a part-time capacity, but that thought never got off the ground at all.

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So after about 1 year of jobs and taking it easy (sometimes) I started to look for something paid to do. This wasn’t going to be easy. I had applied certain conditions to the job search. I could not work weekends (my wife worked Sundays, and Saturday was our ‘family day’). Evenings were also out as I just didn’t want evening work and I only wanted to work a maximum of 14 hours, over a 2 day period. This did limit the kind of work that was available. I also did not want a managerial/supervisory responsibility which limited it even further. It was nearly another year before I was successful.

From then to now …


With Christmas out of the way, I was now waiting for my transfer date. It had been my understanding that I was to move straight after the holiday. However, because of some delay with software I was to be testing. It was mid February when I took up my temporary position. The software was intended for residents so that they would be able to know when their bins were due to emptied.

Everything started well. I was able to work with my old team more easily than before, with being on the same site. The testing I was to work on was quite easy. The software company had listed the steps that were needed to do the tests, and it was simply a case of run through the list, making notes, until it broke. And ‘broke‘ it did! Often! When we came up with a problem, the full detailed notes were sent off and we waited for the next version to be delivered. This went on for about 6 months before the first beta version was put out for external testers. More problems were reported and so it went on. The testing and re-testing plodded on for a full year. Each time an issue was raised then a new version was produced, and the time it took to produce the latest beta was taking longer and longer. It was February 2016 when the first final version was put ‘on the shelves’ and could be downloaded.

Alongside this I was also working testing parts of the internal system and helping sort the IT problems that were happening with the Parking team. I was also expected to pick up some of the Housing IT issues, but I could always find a reason to miss these.

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Then came the moment, I was dreading. I was being recalled back to the main site, to carry on my main work. I was not happy and on the 29th February 2016 I was back in the City Centre office. But by now I had a little more knowledge and it was a little easier. The downside was that the person who had helped me the most, had been seconded to another team and didn’t have much time to help me. It was back to being helped by my old adversary “Nellie”.

But … things were about to change…

From then to now … all change


Within a few weeks, and a lot quicker than I imagined, I was ‘invited’ to attend an interview. It was one of those interviews where you know you have got the job from the very start. The team I was to be Interviewworking in were basically an IT help-desk for part of the councils Environmental Services department. We were the people that ‘sorted’ the problems that Environmental Health officers had with the software they used. ImprovingI found it difficult as a lot of the problems that cropped up were down to errors in the software, rather than user errors. To fix these, I needed to know the programming side of the software. Although I did know some programming techniques, the ones needed were far more complicated. There were five of us, and although I kept my grade, I was back at the bottom of the pile. I have to admit I struggled for the first couple of months, but gradually I began to gain more knowledge and my confidence increased.

Then it all went wrong again!

The departmental heads still had to save money, and so our little IT support team (as we liked to call Helpdesk teamourselves) were to be merged with a much larger team that supported all of the Environmental service areas and also the councils Housing department. We went from being a team of five to be part of a team of over forty. This was a real help-desk job now. Sat in an office with a laptop, smart-phone and a head-set with a whole range of new software to learn. I knew from the start that it was not the job for me. I spent most of the time trying to understand the new work and really not getting very far.

And then the day of my heart operation arrived (see this thread for more) I was going to be off work for three months while I recovered, which was going to be an ideal time to find something I was more at home with. Or so I thought.

From then to now … gets a bit boring !


When I say ‘… a bit boring …’, I mean that nothing really eventful happened. YawnA few new residents zones installed, new staff, new equipment but nothing startling for about six years. The team and me just plodded along. So as I say, when I look back, it was just a bit boring. Still enjoyed the job and most of the staff were easy to work with and I had built up a bit of a reputation, but that was about it.

Then, towards then end of 2012 rumours started appearing about job/staff changes. We had two members of staff leave and they were not replaced and this started to worry a few people. We were told that they would be replaced in the new year, but that we would have to manage until then. Which of course we did.

Around about this time, the Council were beginning to look at reducing staff to cut costs. Central Poundsfunding was being cut and departmental budgets were being squeezed. The Council was promoting what the called ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI. Essentially what this was voluntary redundancy. Staff would leave, get the standard redundancy payment and gain access to their works pension. I thought about this a lot and K*** and me decided that it might be a good move. Leave the Council and get another job somewhere else with a nice lump sum of money in the bank. So in January 2013, I applied for this ‘ELI’. After a few weeks, I received a reply, explaining that I could not be considered as I was ‘too valuable to the service’.

Later in 2013 me and a colleague (one who I had a bit of an issue with) received an email, quite out of the blue which explained that service was being reviewed and that we were part of that review. I Astoundedqueried this ‘review’ with the Assistant Manager who dismissed it as ‘… just something the Head of Service had to do and that it would not affect us …’ His face was a picture when both me and my colleague, G*** forwarded him the email we had received. He still claimed that it would not be an issue and that he would get someone to explain it all to us.

A couple of weeks later someone from HR did come and explain. What was happening was that some Worriedof the posts throughout the department were being looked at, to try and centralise some of the functions. the example they gave was that G***, who was our Training Officer would probably serve the department better if she worked within the Training team, where there would be vacancies in the future. The same applied to me, and I would be of more use in the departments IT service area. We were assured that we would still have a job, but it was still a very worrying time and made a mockery of the reason I was rejected for ELI. Not so valuable now, I thought.

From then to now … more of the same


The big day arrived and the so called ‘newsome twosome’ started. I have no idea who came up with the name ‘newsome twosome’ but it did seem to fit. The fears we had, with neither ever working in a hospital kitchen Teamwere soon discredited. It turned out that C***s had been the Head Cook at an army barracks and P*m had worked for 10 years as a cook in the Royal Air Force. Both seemed to have good skills and soon blended in with the rest of the kitchen. C***s was appointed as the Kitchen Superintendent and always seemed quite easy going. P*m got the Assistant Head job and so became my so called ‘running mate’. She was not as laid back as C***s and this caused a few tensions among some of the staff. You will know the type, criticising everything that she did, but they didn’t have the courage to apply for the job themselves. However, we were now a team again.

Everything plodded along quite uneventfully for a couple of years. A few initiatives came and went, but I began to notice Splitthat whenever opportunities arose, I appeared to be the preferred choice.  A prime example was when management decided to update and change the menus in the staff dining room. All the kitchen staff were asked to come up with ideas, even the Porters and Kitchen Assistants were included. But when the ideas were pooled, it was C***s and me that were invited to take the discussions further. P*m and the Head Cook were side-lined a little. C***s and I tried to include them but we both felt at least one had taken her ‘bat home’  and was a bit more negative than the other. The Head Cook seemed to just be along for the ride. Never offering advice or criticism and his ‘safety phrase’ was “That sounds nice!”

The new menus were decided on and things seemed to be getting back to normal. Then the next bombshell hit.

The Head Cook announced that he was going to retire. We knew it was coming, but he had never Fightdivulged his actual age or the date of his birthday so we didn’t really know when. He had not taken any of his leave so he used his three weeks holiday entitlement as the bulk of his notice. He had asked the Catering Manager not to tell anyone until he had started his leave, as he didn’t want any fuss. C***s knew, but both P*m and me found out on his last day. After the initial shock, both of us realised that the battle to succeed him was on. Although initially it was a good natured battle, the days leading up to the interview day got a little fraught and tempers spilled over sometimes.

All went well …


The staff party went as well as could be expected, even the short time I was there. I think subconsciously I knew that it would and I also knew that there would be no problem with R***. He was the excuse I used to get out of going for the full evening. I know it’s wrong of me to use the possibility of him having a ‘melt-down’ to get out of something, but it was the only thing I had. The problem is, that I’m not a fan of social get-togethers. They just don’t have any appeal these days. It must be an age thing because when I was in my early 20’s you would not have been able to stop me. Anyway it seems that they were glad I went and wished I had stopped longer.

They are a great team to work with and I enjoy their company. Pomfret'sThis job is just what I wanted from a part-time job. The hours could not be better. The location is ideal and the wage, well I don’t expect any more for what I do. Its quite a physical job, but for two days of 6 and a half hours, I seem to be coping. They made me extremely welcome for the first day, and usually that kind welcome doesn’t continue more than a couple of weeks, but I still feel the same as I felt the first day, which can’t be bad.

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1st day down …


Well, not technically true. Technically, today is my last day and tomorrow will be the “1st” day. I didn’t want to go into work for one day, so I managed to save up some time and take a ‘flexi’ day. But to all intents and purposes, today was the first day of my retirement! Now, how old does that make me feel?

Didn’t do much really. Went to the bank, did a bit of shopping, washed my car … oh and had my hair cut. Haircut? For nearly a year now, I’ve been growing my hair longer. In fact, I’ve not had it cut for about nine months. It all started, around November time last year. Our ‘team’ were on one of our ‘away-days’ or it may have been a training day. At lunch time I had gone out and  when I returned, I received a text message, just before I entered the training room. As I was expecting the text, I stopped to read it. I then over heard someone joking about the length of my hair and then everything went quite when it went in. Now I don’t care if people take about me behind my back and I don’t  mind if they laugh at me. What I hate is when they do it and then try and pretend that they didn’t. Which was what happened in this case. So I made the random decision to grow my hair long. My intention was to just let it grow and grow to make them feel bad or guilty . However when I put in for early retirement, I decided that my long hair would go when I finished. Hence, todays haircut.

So all in all, the first (or pre-retirement) day went well and now I must et down to the task of finding and getting that part time job. I need to get one soon, before I get out of the work habit. The next few weeks are critical in that search I think.

It’s sunk in … finally


I think it has finally sunk in. It got to home time and J*******, who I have worked quite closely with, shook my hand, thanked me and wished me well. He is on leave next week and will not be in on the day I finish. It was a nice touch of him to say what he did. On the other hand, there are others who are on leave next week, who have said nothing. Quite frankly, I don’t care about those few. In fact, there is one person that is off all week and it pleased me to know that he will not be in. One of the many reasons I’m not having the obligatory ‘night out’ or ‘leaving do’. I’m not a very sociable person, but I could not leave anyone out if I was having a do. I would have to invite everyone, even those I do not want to be there. So not for me.

What amazes me at the moment, though, is the number of times I’ve been asked, what I’m going to do when I finish? What are my hobbies? Have I planned any trips? All valid questions you may say, but my point is, nobody has asked me any of these questions before! Well not in this team. Way back before the numerous restructures, the team I originally worked with would ask. With this team, they don’t even ask where you’ve been if you’ve had a few days holiday. Strange bunch of people some of them.

Then when I got home, the pension company had finally sent my retirement pack. This is the documents I need to complete so that my pension is paid. Surprisingly it only took two emails to get the pack sent. But that helped it hit home. Made it very realistic. Now I’ve just got to find a part-time job to fill a couple of days in the week. It will be a bit of spending money and keep me occupied for a few years until my state pension comes in 2021.

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I had a crack at knitting a rose brooch this weekend. Rose BroochI had seen the pattern and downloaded some months previously, but it looked quite tricky. Stitchwise I was fine, but one of the main techniques was a little more involved as it were. Still, I had a go and finished it quicker than I expected. I completed the making up today and I very pleased with how it has turned out. Just as it showed on the pattern.

One more week …


Well only five more 06:30 wake-up alarms! But it has been dragging on and on and on …….. and on and on.

No luck on the part-time job front yet. K*** thinks I need to get something, in her words “That I would like to do …” My take on that is get something I can do, and wait for something I would like to do. And that is the advice from colleagues also. I have to ask myself though, “What would I like to do?” It has to be something I enjoy doing, and from the past few years, there’s not a lot I like doing workwise. I suppose I would prefer to sit in front of a computer rather than a manual job, but needs must outweigh desire. (Note to self: sounds like a good sound bite “Needs Must Outweigh Desire” maybe a story title?)

As I said, work seems to be dragging on and on. Someone else is now working on the project that I’ve been working for the past 18 months. I have been drafted back into the main team (Team! … more about that another time) to help out with general support calls coming in. The problem is, that being not a part of the main team since way before my operation, I do not have the skills that others have developed, and with my imminent departure, it’s not really worth retaining me. I can pick up odd calls that I do know about, but they tend to be very basic tasks, that lower graded staff pick up first. I also think that ‘they’ may be worried that if I’m pushed into new work, I may just go sick! Others have done it before and I have had a days sick this week already. I have a feeling that next week is going to be even slower.

Away day … not as bad as expected


In fact, I would go as far as saying, it was quite enjoyable. Today Friday was a team building day. It was a day when the new team (those who were not off work) got together and began to learn a bit about each other. The day when the restructure of the team started to take shape. That was the aim.

We were supposed to start the day with a two hour slot of ‘bonding and building’, followed by four presentations with Q & A’s and feedback and ending with brief quiz as a ‘bit of fun’.

Two days ago, the new team manager (we shall call her KB) gave us all a person we had to ‘buddy’ and a list of questions that we had answer about ourselves and our buddy. This was the preparation work that we had to complete before the day. It was designed to identify where we lacked self-confidence and to give each of us an idea of what the rest of the team thought of each other. It was only looking at the positives and not the negatives. We were then required, to read out what we had written about ourselves and get feedback from our buddy and the rest of the team.

However, before we started, ‘KB’ had a little ‘exercise’ that she wanted us to do. Basically is was to test of our listening skills, but was more a test of our memory capabilities. In our pairings, one had to talk about something, anything that was of interest or importance to us. This had to last for two minutes and person two was not allowed to make notes or ask questions. Then person two had to relay back to person one, what they had said without being prompted. Then (not much longer now) person one had to feedback how well person two had done. The roles were then reversed and the process repeated. For me it proved to be very difficult, as I am having a few memory issues which I’ve put down to my days in hospital. My buddy, who is actually my new line manager (and we shall call him NM), was almost word perfect with his memory and at the risk of embarrassing the lad, I ensured everyone knew that.

Then we go to the ‘nitty-gritty’ and started the part that I was dreading. The metaphorical exposing of each other. To make matters worse, ‘NM’ and me** were the first to go. To my surprise, I found it quite informative and not as difficult as I feared and I think I got a lot out of it.

Now this part was supposed to take an hour and a half for all twelve of us, and then we would have one of the presentations. This was to be followed by a two ‘bonding’ lunch at a local pub and a further three presentations in the afternoon. What happened was that the ‘bonding and building’ sessions went on longer than ‘KB’ anticipated, and at 16:30 she decided that the four presentations would now happen on a later day. I don’t think anyone expected or intended it to go on for so long.

All in all, it was a quite informative (if a bit tiring) day and at the end, I think we were all glad it was over. But maybe next time, I won’t be as apprehensive. Who knows?

**  for all you grammar types, should this be “NB and I” or am I correct with “NB and me”??

All going rather well …..


Well, when I say “All going rather well…” I’m referring to my return to work and I mean the physical side to the return. I working on a phased return over four weeks.  As I say, I mean the physical side is going well. The actual work side is a little different. Although I was assured that I would not be disadvantaged during my absence, I feel I am little bit left out of things. My ‘team’ colleagues (if you can call them that) have integrated into the wider team a great deal more than I have, and I’m beginning to feel a bit like an outsider. Even more of an outsider than I felt before. I just don’t know what my role is any more. My line manager is back next week (at least I think she is still my line manager) and I’ll try and broach the issue with her. Although that may not be as easy as I would hope. She has a few problems in her personal life, and I may get the sharp end of that when she gets back.

I’m now working in the city centre, and as such I have to use a mutli-storey car park. It’s an expense that I wish I did not have, but it is not the expense that is the real problem. The car park get really full and there are very few spaces left by 9am. Normally this would not be an issue, but on the days when I have to have my blood test (currently every two weeks) I end up going in late. The thing that really annoys me is when people reverse park their cars into the parking bay. Because of the limited driving space, reverse parking holds everyone else up. I have no idea why they do it! It is just as easy to reverse out of the parking bay as it is to drive out forwards. I think they are just showing off.

The problems I’ve had with my memory, seems to gradually improving. I was trying to update a report yesterday, and was not having much luck with it at all. Then this morning I tried again and it suddenly came to me what I needed to do. Another report I’ve been working on is starting to look like it should, although I’m not getting the results I should, my line manager will know where I’m going wrong.

Life changer – “T” minus 4


Only 4 more nights until the op. I should probably call it ‘a procedure’ as it sounds more professional. At least, that’s what they call this kind of thing on TV. I suppose calling it a procedure kind of leads you to think that this is routine. Of course, it is routine by the very nature that these experts do the same stuff everyday but that no way detracts from the complexity of the work this surgeon and his team will have to perform.

A family day yesterday for my father-in-laws 80th birthday. One of K***’s uncles was there and he has been through the very same thing. It was interesting to hear first hand from someone who has had the ‘procedure’.

What is strange, and I’m not sure how to take it, is the number of people that have wished me ‘good luck’. I hope I don’t have to rely on luck!! They also say things like ‘I’m sure it will be fine’ and ‘hope everything goes okay’. It must be difficult to find something to say that doesn’t sound like I need a four leafed clover at my bedside. I almost kind of liked what my GP said, after he had diagnosed my Pulmonary Congestion. His comment as he shook my hand was “See you on the flip-side!”

Saw my mother on Thursday. She seems to be getting a little confused I think, as she asked me if I had had my operation. I explained when it was and what was going to happen, but she is either blanking it out or she genuinely does not get it. As for the rest of my side of the family, not heard a peep from any of them since the message I posted to them all. It is a sad state of affairs when people outside your direct family are more interested than they are. But I’m not going to fret over it. I’ve enough to worry about (excluding this) at work and at home. The situation at work seems to change on a daily basis and I can see our new boss, G***** getting a little annoyed about it all. This is about our latest office move, of which I may blog about in another post . Then there is the worry about R***. How will he take it when he realises that I’m not there for a whole week which has never happened before, and that his recite has increased. He does not take kindly to change and it has been made slightly more difficult with S**** moving out. Just glad that K*** has not told the community nurse that S**** is not at home. Heaven knows what she would have said/done if she knew. With all this going on around me, the small matter of heart surgery pales a little into insignificance somewhat.

This is probably going to be the last post on the subject until the deed has been done. So in the words of my GP …..”See you on the flip-side….”


The new workplace review is starting to pick up speed now. I had, what they call a “Work Style Assessment” on Friday. That, basically was to a document that formally set out how each one of us will contribute to making the best use of the available desk space. It seems that at any one time, at least 28% of the office desks are not in use; people at meetings, training, sick etc etc. we have a program called “Changing the Workplace” which is trying to maximise the available office space to save money. Mine worked out very well for me. It means that one day a week, I’ll work from a satellite office, one day a week from home, leaving three days a week working from my base office. This, of course is to be more flexible than rigid. It might mean that sometimes, I do two days in the main office and two days in another office, it depends on what work I’m covering. It was what I was looking for and it seem to fit in with what the service requires. However, formalising the “Working from Home” part, means that I need to have either an office or a proper work station. When I have randomly worked from home, I’ve sat at the dining room table. 020214_1241_Workplacere1.jpgThat is not going to be allowed, which I kind of expected. So yesterday, I set about tidying up my computer desk, clearing out some of the rubbish and making it more of a computer work station than it was. So it should be okay now. All I need to do, when I’m working is to move my personal laptop and slot in the works one.

Of course, the ‘moaners’ are still finding things to moan about: the expense; the inconvenience; the increased travel; earlier rising; getting home later; unsettling, there seems to be no end to the excuses why this is not a good thing. Those people should take a good long look at their conditions of service. It is all explained there, and before they go running off to their respected Trades Union, they should be aware, that the Unions signed up to this from the very start! We have an ‘Away Day’ on the 7th, where we should learn a lot more about what is happening. Well it started off as a day when we get to meet our new colleagues and get to know a bit about them. However it seems that it is going to be a ‘bonding session’ and a ‘workshop’. Neither of which, is what I was expecting. I have also heard that our team will be “absorbed” into the service the following week, but that’s only a rumour, so I’m not sure how accurate it is. Still I accept that it is a worrying time for some people, who have never been outside their comfort zone. Me, I’m just going to get on with it. As I mentioned before, we have no choice, and at the end of the day we still have a job. The bigger worry will be when the new structure is formalised and we have to start applying for our jobs.

Life changing day .. plus 1


    Firstly, let me get one thing straight here. This is not going to be a day by day diary of the build up to my operation. It is going to more a recording of events that have a connection to my op.

    This morning I talked to my manager about what happened at the hospital yesterday. I was going to speak to our service leader, but did not get chance, and anyway, I am seeing her on Friday for a one-to-one. So back to my manager. She knew I was at the hospital and the reason. I had explained that I go every six months for an ultrasound and a consultation with the doctor. So the first thing she asked when I walked into the building, was “Is everything ok.” I replied, something like “…well I’m still alive….. I’ll come and have a chat when I get settled in.”

    Got the computer up and running and went through to her office for a talk. I explained what had happened, and she was extremely supportive, wanting to know all the details. After about an hour, I went back to my desk. Five minutes later, she called me through to her office and explained that she had spoken to our service manager about it and she was just as supportive. About an hour later the service manager called by my desk, sat on the corner and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was and she replied that if I was getting too stressed, I could work from home. I said I was fine and she tapped my upper arm and said we would talk later, which was very moving I thought.

    My manager had also mentioned it to the girl, I am supposed to work side by side and she had been very supportive too. I’ve not mentioned it to the two that I “supervise” as one was not here today and I want to tell them both together, so I’ll do that on Thursday. Tomorrow, I have to explain to my old colleague from my former job. I still do certain bit of work for them. Partly because I enjoy it and it keeps me in touch, but the main reason is, that they don’t really have anyone trained in the work. This has to change, and tomorrow is the day it changes. They have no choice now.

Letter to my head


If you are wondering about the title of this post, I shall explain all at the end.

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        You know K*** had those problems last year with those Melanomas, well we thought everything was now okay. However, a couple of weeks ago, she felt something under her arm, where she had had the biopsy, that did not feel quite right. She spoke to the consultant at the hospital, who told to see her GP, who would refer her. This was done, and at the end of this week, she had both a consultation at the clinic on Thursday and a scan on Friday. You have to congratulate to hospital on the speed their action. But, after the scan, she was told that there was nothing to see, and that it may just be a rib!! I think she is now waiting for the consultant to get back to her officially. she is still very worried though.

        Work!!!! Someone who I knew a few years ago,in my previous job, asked me if I’m happy in this new job, and my immediate replay was along the lines ‘…same old story, back stabbing and bitching with a smaller team…’ It made me reflect a little on where I am now. Do I actually like what I am doing? Do I like the people I work with? The ‘team’ as they like to call us. Things are beginning to come to a head I think. It has a lot to do with this new restructure that we are going through, and everyone is quite worried. In my opinion, the problem is exasperated because for two members of the ‘team’, there is no position at their current grade. Now our Manager, M*** was told us that this represents a huge opportunity to get those jobs that we deserve. This is a nod to one of the ‘team’ members, E***** who missed out on a promotion in the last restructure. I’m convinced, that this is why I still don’t feel like I’m accepted as a full member of the ‘team’. She missed out last time and I think she believes that she may miss out this time. This is probably fuelled by her partner B****, who conveniently works in the same ‘team’, in the same office. I feel that it is never a good idea for people in a relationship to work together, unless it is their own business. It just does not work in a large organisation such as ours.

        Just to change the subject ….. I have had a cold virus this week. Not such a big deal you say. Well usually that is the case. I get three to four colds a year, and they are typical colds that last three days. Occasionally, and it happened in July last year, I get a cold that completely floors me, so to speak. I started late Saturday, with the usual symptoms: the slight headache; the tingle at the top of my nose etc. By Sunday, the cold had started to kick in properly. I had a fitful nights sleep, tossing and turning, not able to get comfy and with the now ever present ‘nasal attack’. I spent the next two and a half days in bed, with the usual handkerchiefs, paracetamol, buckets of water and a pained look on my face. I went back to work on Thursday, but at a push, could have held out to the end of the week. It is still there, and of course, I now have to live with the aftermath of all those handkerchiefs, the sore nose!!

        Now, the reason for the unusual post title. I intended to start writing posts as if I was actually writing a letter to myself …. to my head in fact. After the first paragraph, I thought, this is not going to work on this blog, and i would have to start a new one. But it also gave me an idea for a story. A story built along the lines of letters from someone to friend, and what happens when those letters and everything else changes. The story is only in it’s planning stage at the moment, but I thought I would keep the post title as a reminder.

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.

One week later (or maybe a bit longer……..)


Well I’ve had the new car for just over a week, and it seems to be fine. Acceleration is not as good as the Ford, and handling at 70 mph needs full attention, but I’m quickly getting used to that. What will take a time is what I’ve been told is my ‘heavy clutch foot’. Occasionally, I will come off the clutch too quickly and stall. It has been a small problem, since I learned drive. I even managed to do it on my driving test. I thought i had failed, but I “…responded to the problem, quickly and correctly, so it’s just a minor fault…” or so the tester explained. The comments I have got from people range from “dinky” and “nippy” to “smart” and “economical” and I prefer the latter two. The audio/entertainment system is great. Great as in 500% better that the radio cassette player I had in the other car. It has a USB port, and can play MP3 tracks. So haring along the country lanes, with the window down and Bruno Mars belting out, is quite a new experience.

Long, hard day yesterday. I was decorating the bathroom. Now when I say ‘decorating’ I really mean refreshing the current decoration, as we’ve kept it the same colour scheme. I bought, what I thought was a decent paint-pad tray, but it turned out to be so bad, that I binned it rather than try and clean it (note to self … the stuff from the £ shop works just as well.) Ended up using an old pad for the ceiling, and a largish brush for the walls, so it took a bit longer than expected, but it’s all done now. Saying that, I need to do the ceiling and door frame in the en-suite, when the lighting has been sorted out. Deep joy!

Work continues as only work can continue! The bitching, the back-biting and the internal politics are as ripe as ever. I try not to get embroiled in it all, as I’m not sure who’s side I need to be on yet! And of course, there has to be sides so people have someone to blame when things don’t go right for them! I thought the last review was tough, but this one has yet to get going properly and it ready shows signs of it being a bad experience. At the last team meeting, the Service Manager could give us no “ ……new information on where things stand at the moment…… ” and promised to tell us as soon as she know anything. I took that to mean, tells us “ .. what we need to know, when they think we need to know it …… “. Politics !!!

So what’s new …..


      Well, after a lot of persuasion from Mrs H, I’m getting a new car. Yes my trusty and slightly rusty old Ford Ka is being consigned to the “part-exchangesphere”. On Wednesday I will take ownership of a brand spanking new Hyundai i10. To be more accurate, both S**** and I are getting new cars. Both getting the same model just different colours.

      My Ford has done a great job over the past eight years, but with S**** needing transport on a regular basis, it has had an effect on my work time. I’ve not had a flexi day for over a year. I just seem to get a little time built up and then S**** has a 9:00 start and the time is used up. It has also had an effect on the mileage. I had been thinking about a new car for a couple of month and what finally convinced me was what is happening at work.

      One of the things that has happened over the past couple of years is a move to asking staff to take early retirement, or ‘Early Leavers Initiative (ELI)’ as it had been called. I had looked into this and was working on the notion that I could retire at 60, with not too much of a loss of pension. I had put the application in and received my quote and we were coming around to the idea, and of course I would not need a car then. I just needed to wait for confirmation from the service head. But…… a couple of weeks ago, my manager dropped a bombshell! It appears that certain staff would are classed as essential, and are not eligible for early ELI and this includes ICT staff which is the area I now work. Hence I would have to work until 65 or 66, (I’m not sure what the government has decided) and hence I would still need a car.

      So Mrs H had been looking for a small car for me (I don’t anything large, it’s just to get me to and from work) with the view to giving S**** my old one. But things are starting to go wrong and we both thought that if we could get a good deal, then he should have a new car also. We got a reasonable deal, and so I’m getting a Red one and his is Black.

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      So what else? Work is still a bit of a worry. Although I won’t get to retire early, it still concerns me as to where I will fit, in the new structure. My manager tells me I have nothing to worry about, and her manager says more or less the same, but with more enthusiasm, but I just don’t know. There are people a lot more qualified than me, and that is the big worry.

      R*** continues to do well at his college. Of course there are good days, okay days and bad days. This weekend has been ‘good days’, but who knows what will happen tomorrow. It can feel like you’re living on a knife edge.

      Because of the success he has had with the local drama group, S**** has been approached, to work with a group that take drama into schools. They quite keen on having him on board, and he is equally as keen about the idea. His worry, I think is the financial aspect. It is not a full time job, and he would be self-employed. We are under the impression, that he wants to move out of the family home and into his own place, with his girlfriend. He does not know how he can do this, without a full time job. We’ve told him we would support him if needed, but he is still in two minds about it. He has another workshop style interview to do at the beginning of October, so we will see what happens then.

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      I think that’s about it for now, although, as soon as this is posted, I’ll think of something I wanted to add.

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.

The days get longer …..


It has been an stressful if not interesting week. R***’s medical team have decided that they need to reduce the dosage of one of his medications. To be specific, Lorazepam. He has been taking half a milligram every morning, Monday to Friday, with a full one milligram if needed (PRN). This has been working fine. However it’s been decided to try and get him off the drug completely, as it is supposed to be highly addictive. The issue here is, what will replace it, and what effect will that have on R***. We saw the effects of medication change some years ago, when a doctor decided that he would be better taking a form of Risperdone, which is an anti-psychotic drug. This caused severe problems at the time, and was stopped. I fear that the same thing may happen again. Not with the same drug, but something similar. We are going to tell his medics that we feel he should stay on the half milligram dosage, with the one milligram PRN for the time being, then gradually reduce the dosage, over a number of weeks. I will let you know how we get one, with that one.

I think I may have tempted fate, last posting with regard to Mrs H’s next project. Her hand has been forced somewhat. On Tuesday evening, I had given R*** a shower and decided that I needed one too. Now whether the shock of this was too much for the shower to bear, I couldn’t say, but the shower broke. What actually happened, I have no idea, but the controller made a cracking noise as I was turning it off, and then would not turn off. I eventually managed to get it turned off, but there were problems turning it back on. So a new shower is the order of the day. Mrs H went out and bought one yesterday, and the guy that did the kitchen said he would fit it. We just have to wait until he can, but Mrs H is already thinking we need a pump for the shower also. The one we have is gravity fed, so not much of a power shower. Apparently, a pump would improve this. Expensive days ahead, I think, as she also wants the whole of the en-suite replacing.

It’s been a while


I’m struggling to find anything to write about really. Work plods on as usual, with very little change. There are a couple of courses coming up, but nobody seems to be that excited about it. There are quite a lot of changes going on with some of the other teams. That is causing a lot of stress for some people. doesn’t really affect me directly, but it’s not a nice atmosphere at the moment. But, I went through it, and at least their managers won’t be blaming them for the changes, as happened in my case.

We have had a bit of a stressful time with R*** over the past few weeks. He seemed to have settled into his new placement, or college if you like, but there have been issues. There is a young man that R*** knows from his school, and R*** does not get on with him. We do not know why, but it seems to cause R*** a great deal of stress. We have spoken with the people at his college, and they say they understand, and are going to keep the two apart as far as possible, which may help. The transport has changed, because R*** grabbed the escort and bruised her. That caused more stress for my wife than for R***. Hopefully that is sorted now. To cap it all, his medical team, have decided to change some of his medication. Apparently, he can build up a tolerance to some of the drugs. That makes them less effective, so the dosage would have to increase, which is never good.

It is his birthday coming up soon. We never know what to get him, but his current obsession, is with Pingu. He has searched through Amazon and eBay, and found a Pingu toy that he wanted. This was the first time I had bid on anything (usually just buy the things) but it was the only option. The bid started at £3.99 plus £5.00 postage, which was not too bad. I ended up winning the bid, but it has cost me £30.00 all together. But if it is something he wants it will be worth it. I just hope he is not disappointed when it arrives. I know it is second-hand and there may be some damage, but fingers crossed.

We (or should I say K***, my wife) is having some work done at home. We have an fridge and freezer that sits under the work surface. Over past few years, the seal on the fridge has deteriorated, meaning that sometimes the fridge door is left slightly ajar. K*** has decided that she wants one of those American style fridge/freezers instead. So, that is what we are having installed. The usual handyman is going to remove the old one, build a new cupboard, where the freezer was and dismantle the tall store cupboard/pantry. That is when he finishes replacing the tiles. It will look good, but the house is in such a mess while the work is being done.