You know what !!!


Well my little part-time job in the local cafe has gone. Hopefully just for the time being. It wasn’t the most intellectually challenging work I’ve ever done, ‘Pot Washer/Kitchen Porter/Kitchen Assistant’ but it was a small friendly place that got me out of the house for a couple days a week. I say ‘hopefully’ because you never know what pressures small business owners have in keeping their business open. I suppose one of the dangers is that the owners will just give up, call it a day and that is my worry now. If the shutdown goes on for too long then maybe the staff will think the same. It has crossed my mind. I was aiming to hang my apron up just before by State Pension date in April 2021, but that may have to change.

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K*** has gone off to work and she is not looking forward to it. She works part-time in a large supermarket and has seen first hand the chaos and bitterness this virus has caused. It’s the staff that are getting the blame for the shortages and it can get dangerous in some cases. I can understand a little about ‘panic buying’ and stock piling. When you see someone buying up packs and packs of toilet rolls, you begin to think, maybe I should do the same. But what I don’t get is some of the things people are stockpiling.

I needed to get a few things on Friday and went to a nearby S********s. It was only bread, eggs and a bit of veg that we wanted, but I passed an elderly couple pushing a trolley. There wasn’t much in the trolley, but they were discussing how many bottles of ketchup they needed. As I ‘ear-wigged’ it came to light that they already had two bottles, at home and were a bit disappointed that they were only allowed to buy three. They were actually thinking about coming back later in the day and getting some more. How many bottles of ketchup do anyone need? Crazy! I do think that the rationing most stores are doing, should have been started a month ago though.

From then to now . . . back to work


Jump forward to the 1st September and I am summoned, by works phone, to appear in front of my line manager. It seems, that although it was pre-determined how long I would be away work for recovery, I had to have an interview to discuss my “return to work strategy“. It was not a disciplinary interview, more of “fact finding interview” Fortunately I had already formulated my phased return, so I was able to show her my plan of action. There was a slight moment of finger wagging during the twenty minutes I was there, but I got over it.

Two weeks later, and another phone call. This time it was HR, who wanted to have a little chat with regard to my phased return. They said they could come to me at home, or if I wanted I could see them, at my nearest office. I opted to see them and made an appointment for the next day. This turned out to be a real discussion. I explained my plan, which was to phase my return over four weeks. One day, then two days, then three days followed by the last week of four days. The lady that interviewed me said the plan was a good one, but was worried that it might be too quick and they would monitor my progress. I did mention that I had had the same interview with my line manager and was told that it should not have happened. It seemed that because it was a pre-elective procedure with a set recovery time, I was technically not on sick leave.

The phased return worked well for me, and I managed to get back to working full time with very little problem. However, people were very understanding and I think they made special efforts to get me back to normal. In all truth, during those four weeks I had very little to do. In fact apart from reading work newsletters, catching up on emails and trying to read software manuals, I did very little at all. It became very boring and quite stressful.

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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.

Internet abuse …


You may be aware that I work part-time in a local café. One of the many features of this café, is their free Wi-Fi. The access Wi-Ficode is displayed for anyone to use if you know where to look. Most customers will use the Wi-Fi for what it is there for i.e. so they can check their emails or show someone pictures on their phone, that kind of thing. However, there is an increasing number of customers that seem to visit the café with the sole purpose of accessing the the free internet.

On Tuesday this week, I arrived at work around 10:20, which is my usual time and noticed a customer sat at a 4 seater table. He had his laptop open and was also using his phone. I also noticed he was wearing Mikea pair of headphones and one of those ‘cheek mikes’ that seem to be the norm these days. I hovered around his table for a few seconds before entering the kitchen and realised that he was conducting some kind of interview Customerswith somebody. Over the course of the next couple of hours, he still seemed to be talking to someone and on a couple of occasions, he got quite animated. He eventually left at around 12:45, or at least that’s when I noticed he had gone. From what I could see, he had drunk one cup of coffee and who knows how many glasses of free water. I mentioned to the chef that he had gone and he explained that he had been sat at the table since about 09:00. Just one cup of coffee!! The table staff have been told not to move people on, but to keep asking if they require anything else. They call  it ‘good customer service’. But what about the ‘good customer service’ for the customers who cannot get a seat?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting free Wi-Fi in places I visit, but come on … lets not abuse it.



“What’s It All About … Alfie ?


It’s the question I get asked most if the subject of my blog crops up. Well the word “Alfie” isn’t usually part of the quest, Cillaalthough someone did sing that line to me on one occasion. However, it confuses most people when I tell them that it’s “About nothing, but then again about any and everything” And that’s more or less what it’s about. What I want to say and when I want to say it. I don’t have a theme. I tried that when WorkI first started with Blogger and failed, although the “From then to now” posts do have a sort of theme running through them. So this is possibly one of the reasons my posts are more random than some other blogs. Something could affect me today and I’ll post about it and then something else could happen tomorrow and I would post about that. Then it could be a couple of weeks before I’m ready to write again.

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It’s funny how politics and scandal seem to invade everyday conversation these days. The subject of Boris and the alleged ‘thigh METOOgrab’ came up at work on Monday. My colleague was completely bewildered by why she did not do anything about it at the time. I did try and explain, that 20 years ago someone who is trying to establish themselves and build a career simply did not ‘tell tales’ about an employer. If they did, it could have serious repercussions. It is only since the ‘#me too’ allegations came to the fore, that incidents are now being exposed.

That’s enough ‘politics’ for now. Normal service will be resumed in due course.


From then to now … yawn …


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

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

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

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

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

From then to now … the start of something big


One of the things that was enjoyed during those early years was the local pub. For us in the Main Kitchen, our favourite port of call was The George. ItThe George was quite easy to get to, just a matter of out of the kitchen, through the loading bay, cross the road and we were Town Hall Tavernthere. The staff in the Staff/Private Patients Kitchen tended to head to their nearest pub which was The Town Hall Tavern. Both were Tetley houses which was the only local brewery in those days. It tended to only be weekends and birthdays that staff enjoyed a pint or two in either of these two pubs.

We normally only got a half hour lunchbreak, but often people started early and turned the half hour into a full hour. It wasn’t officially allowed, but we seemed to get away with it and I was a regular partaker. It was on one of these lunchtime forays, that I got to know the ‘new girl’ a bit better. She was called K***, and someone invited her to the pub one Sunday lunch. That ‘someHouseone’ then said they could not go, and totally out of character I said I would like to take her for a drink. We got on quite well, although I thought she was a little posh at the time. Her father was the senior Pharmacist which was a position that was Consultant level. One lunchtime led to another and before long, I plucked up the courage to ask her out in the evening. More evenings out ensued complimented by full days out. I was on a different planet. She was my first proper girlfriend and it was always going to end a certain way. Early November 1978 we were married. We bought a house in Bramley, just off Raynville Road. Life and work was really good.

However, by the middle of 1979 it became obvious that we could not work together in that kitchen. We were always on different shifts. An example would be K*** starting at 6:00am and me starting at 11:45am or the other way around. Days off together seemed impossible as the then manager could not afford to have his two ‘star cooks’ (his words!) off together. We decided to talk the the Catering Happy CooksManager about the issue. As luck would have it, one of the trainees that started with me had left his job in the Staff Kitchen, so there was a vacancy there. The so called interview went my way, possibly because I was the only applicant and I was soon installed in a different job. Days off were beginning to happen and I could often swap shifts so we started and finished around the same time. Everything was back on track.

From then to now … back to the start


I was informed by a phone call from the Catering Manager, that I was to return to the LGI the following Monday. It was as simple as that. I was half expecting it to be honest as the the person I was covering had come back to work. It wasn’t expected as everybody thought that the pressures of the job was too much for him. That was the main reason he had been on long term sickness and the reason I was covering his job. But he had returned and as such I was  surplus to requirement. The worrying thing was that the follow up letter from the Catering Manager, talked about the post I was to take up as being a ‘temporary position at the moment’. That did not sound so good.

At the time, I was not a big fan of the hospitals Trades Unions. The primary two were the National UnionUnion of Public Employees (NUPE) and the Confederation Of Health Service Employees (COSHE). The issue I had was that neither of these would have anything to do with employees under the age of 18. This I thought was unfair as the people most likely to have issues were the youngest of the workforce. However, one of my colleagues, K**** was a good friend of the shop steward. ContractHe mentioned to the steward (called D***) the problems I was facing . He looked closely into my initial contract and found a clause that stated that at the end of my training, I would be found a permanent position within the catering teams. The kicker to this clause was that it never been changed in subsequent contracts and still stood. They had to provide me with a permanent position. I was a bit worried that I would need to join the union, but this never materialised.

This delayed my return by a couple of weeks until I received a letter explaining that there had been “… some confusion … the job was a permanent job, but not necessarily in the same kitchen …” The letter finished with “…please report to the Main Kitchen for 9am on Monday …”

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The kitchen was divided into three sections: the vegetable section; the meat and fish section and my Vegparticular favourite; the pastry section. I was hoping that I would get pastry as it was what I felt was my best area. But there was some new girl in that section. More about her later. No, I got the section I was dreading, the vegetable section. I was not a veggie person, in fact apart from  baked beans and processed peas, I did not eat vegetables. Simply did not like them, and to be given the job of cooking the stuff felt like a little bit of ‘pay-back’ for my unintentional union help.

Hospital vegetables were not cooked the way vegetables are cooked these days. Before the late 1960’s vegetables were always cooked to death and whilst the 1970’s saw new thoughts on cooking, hospital vegetables were still being over cooked. The premise was that poorly people needed soft food. Thankfully, to a greater extent that has changed for the better.

There was a set order for the rotation of vegetables on the main meal. I cannot remember the order, but the list consisted of: carrots, green beans, swede, peas (always on Swede n CarrotFriday with the fish) and cabbage. Occasionally, there were broad beans and very occasionally mashed carrot and swede. The broad beans were always served in a white sauce, but the swede/carrot mash-up only occurred if there was a shortage of one or both of the two vegetables. I love it now but back then I thought it smelled awful, and fully thought it would taste disgusting.

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That first week was terrible and I did consider looking for another job. Staff treated The Goonsme very indifferently at first, but as the weeks went by, I found myself enjoying my role more. The person I worked with shared the same interests as me both in hobbies and music and had a very similar taste in comedy. We were both huge fans of The Goon Show and often talk to each other using a couple of The Goons voices.

I was also getting to know the ‘new girl’ a little better and things were starting to get to a similar stage as they were before I was forced to leave the Maternity hospital. And the ‘new girl’ was beginning to play a very important part in my life.

From then to now … the journey begins


So, I’ve bitten the bullet and decided to become a chef. How was I going to achieve this this dream? It Despair-Manlooked like I may have to back the Careers Advice Centre (CAC) and see what they had to offer. My parents put it around their friends that I was wanting to cook for a living and asked them to have a look out for me. I booked an appointment at the CAC but wasn’t really looking forward to it and eventually didn’t go.

I decided to see if any of the teachers could offer some advice. I drew a blank with most of them, but then that certain geography teacher said he would try and find a few things out, if that’s what I wanted to do. After a few days, he came up with a list of options that ranged from a full-time college course to an apprenticeship and even joining one of the armed forces. None of these appealed at all.

It’s now the beginning of May 1971 and we are all 16 years old. The school is now wanting us to leave so they can free up teachers time. The six or seven of us that are still Newspaperleft are simply reading the local papers in search of a job. Then someone, I cannot remember who suggests I might want to have a look at hospital catering as an option. It was the one thing that I had not even thought of. My parents looked into it and somehow managed to get me an interview. I was a bit concerned about having an interview and my father went with me. I think him going with me may have been one of the reasons I got the job. A trainee cook, due to start in August. Their advice was that I should find a temporary job in a kitchen somewhere, doing anything that was needed. To ‘… gain experience of kitchen life …’ they said.

After the interview, we met up with my mum and she thought it would be a nice idea to go and have some tea or coffee to celebrate. Now I thought we would be going to oScholfieldsne of the cafés in Leeds Market, but no mum said we should ‘do it in style’ or words to that effect. The best place in those days was a department store called Schofields. They had an a ’la carte restaurant and a café and we went to the cafe. It was whilst we were there, that someone noticed a small sign advertising a kitchen porter job. We found out who to ask, and I was interviewed the same day. I’ll never know whether it was because I looked the part, or the fact that I was going into the catering industry, but I got that job too.

The actual job title was “Cake Boy” and for the morning entailed me pushing and pulling a huge wooden trolley full of wooden trays (no plastic in those days) of cakes fromCake tray the bakery on the top floor to both restaurant and café. In the afternoon, I worked washing up on a huge dishwasher. It had a conveyer system which was a continual loop. The trays of crockery were loaded as the conveyer belt Conveyormoved along. They went in the machine at one end and came out the other. The image is the closest I could get to the one I used, but you need to imagine the conveyor coming right across the front. The trick was to make sure that you unloaded the clean crockery before the tray got to the place where they would be loaded up again. It didn’t always go to plan and sometimes a double wash would happen.

I was there for ten weeks, before my ‘real’ job started, but I was on the first step of a long catering ladder, and on my way up.

To be continued …

From then to now … the prequel


I have been wanting to write some kind of auto-biography some some time now. But I had largely been put off by reading an old work colleague’s attempt. Believe it or not he started the thing the phrase:

I was born at an early age …

This was a miss-quote of a quite well known Groucho Marx statement. To be honest, I don’t remember much of my early childhood, and there are not too many people left to ask these days. So I decided that the ‘then’ would be my work start and the ‘now’ would be basically be the start of my current part-time job.

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In order to clarify a few points that may or may not crop up in this tale, I need to go back to school. It’s 1966 and I in the 2nd term of my 5th year at Harehills County SchoolSecondary school. It was just after Christmas and we were having our obligatory “Careers Advice” meeting. This took place after school an involved my form teacher, some very old bespectacled gentleman from the Careers office and my parents. Oh, and I was there too. My only role was to say what job I wanted to do when I left at the ripe old age of 16. That’s all I did. I said I wanted to be a draughtsman. It was my best subject and the one I enjoyed Draughtsmanto most. After stating this, I was totally ignored for the rest of the meeting whilst the other three parties discussed why this was not going to happen. To this day, the only clue I have is that I was not expected to get 2 grade 1’s and at least 2 grade 2’s (these were the CSE or Certificate of Secondary Education. If I had gone to a Grammar School, it would have been the GCE or General Certificate of Education which was the old ‘O’ level.) That was the one and only official Careers Advice I was ever had. In those days, kids who only obtained a CSE normally did not go onto University, and after nearly 12 years in a classroom, the idea of more education certainly did not appeal.

What was to become of me? What else interested me?

The inspiration came from a rather unexpected source. We had a geography teacher, whom most of the class detested. He never seemed very good at his subject and was the most arrogant Knittingperson I ever knew. But he had a habit of asking kids if there was anything worrying or bothering them. He asked me and I hadn’t realised that I was worrying about my job/career prospects. His Chefadvice was to look at interests and hobbies outside of school and consider if there was any opportunity there. I told him my three hobbies and he replied that plastic model kit building would get me nowhere and that at the time, there would be very few opportunities for a male knitter. But cooking, if I was good at it could ‘…take me places…’.

So that was it. I was going to be a cook/chef. Now all I had to do was find a way of getting to that status.

To be continued …

Should I, could I? …


Back in 2016, a few months before I retired I heard a rumour that my old school was going to have a reunion. This was to coincide with the ‘celebrations’ marking 50 years since the England football World Cupteam actually won the World Cup. I asked the school friend that I mentioned in my last post if he knew anything but he had not heard anything. I did a bit of Googling, but nothing about a reunion turned up. I did however see a name, linked with the school. The person, I’ll call him “Eric”, was not at the school for very long. He started at the same time, but after about 4 or 5 weeks he left. His father was an English teacher and had got a job in South Africa. As a consequence we did not have much to do with him. I remember him because he was the same size as me and had the same side parting hairstyle. He was on “Linked in” and I ended up sending him a message just out of curiosity. Turned out he is a University lecturer now, but in Australia. We messaged a couple of times, but he was more into Skype and Facetime video messaging which is something I avoid like the plague. As with a lot of these things, the messages dropped off and I only hear from him at Christmas and birthdays.

Then in March this year, out of the blue he emailed me with a pdf document. He had written his autobiography and thought I would like a copy to “…remind me of bygone times…” To be brutally honest, it was dire. I’m no writing guru, but I could have done it better Biowithout trying. Lots of sentences starting with ‘And then…’ or ‘The next day…’ or ‘After that…” For the son of an English teacher, it could not have been worse. But it got me thinking. Should I and could I do my own autobiography? It could not be any worse than “Eric’s” and I would not be publishing it. I wouldn’t want to do a ‘birth to now’ type, but I could concentrate on my work life. It then struck me that I could write it as a series of blog posts, taking say 5 years at a time and writing about the best bits.

So guess what? I’m going to give it a go. I need to work out some kind of time-line and highlight key points and dates before I start, but I think it may just work. So as the saying goes …

Watch

A small world …


Way back at the beginning of 2017 I posted about a familiar face popping up on FaceBook and how I was in two minds as to whether I should make contact or not. Looking back, I don’t think I posted that School palsI did get in touch. We had a good evening out some time later, and have kept in touch (on and off) ever since. In fact, we had lunch just recently. Now this is where the title comes in. At that first evening meeting we talked about our family and such. But then we got onto work, and it turned out that this old school friend worked for the son of my maternal grandmothers brother (my mothers cousin). Not only did he work for him, but he knew my grandmother and often visited her. All this came out at that evening out. And before you ask, we both did have that amount of hair in those days.

Then around June time, last year I noticed a post, again on FaceBook from a friend that I worked with way back in the late 1980’s. Back in 1986, I went to work as a clerical officer Typingfor the Local Authority. She started in 1988 as a clerical officer and left that job around 2001 which caused us to lose touch. The post in question was a reply to another post from a current local friend who knew this girl from college way back in the late 1970’s. Thankfully, although she now lives in New Zealand we are now back in touch again. She and her husband are a couple of the nicest people I know.

Leap forward to this month (May 2019) and the relative smallness of the world is again raising it’s WPhead. This time, through this very blogging platform. I was reading through some of the comments on a post I had just read. I often have a look at blogs of people who make interesting comments and this was no exception. One of the commenters (is that what they are called?) I visited had an interesting post that had an image of a place near where we used to live. I commented on the post and to cut a long story short, after a couple of messages I now find out that this person lives close to my wife’s father, and may even know him. I refer you back to the title …

It’s that time again …


Tonight is the ‘works’ Christmas Party night. They’re going for a Christmas meal and dance at a local venue, all paid for by tChampagne-Glass-Remix-4-by-Merlin2525he boss. I’m not going for the full evening as social events are not my thing. I am not the biggest fan of Christmas either, so having a party with people I only see for a couple of hours a week, to celebrate Christmas, is possibly not going to be the fantastic fun time everyone tells me it will be. I will of course do my best to give the impression that I am enjoying myself and laugh at all the old jokes, but deep inside, I’ll be clockwatching.

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I don’t get the whole idea of ‘compulsory enjoyment’. By that I mean, people seem scroogeto tell me to “just enjoy yourself” and “it will be fun” or “it’ll be good”. It’s as if they know what I like better than I do. But I’m sorry to say, they don’t! And if I say that I’m not going to enjoy myself or have fun, then out comes one of the most over used phrases “Bah, humbug!” Someone even call me a “Grinch” but as I’ve never seen the film I had no response.

So I’m out for an hour between 7pm and 8pm, on a day that the first snows of winter are set to arrive (or so the BBC Weather-planks tell us). Wish me luck.

First one done …


The first ‘official week’ of my new part-time job is over and done. After the trial day, it was very much as I expected it to be. It’s fairly physical and quite hot especially at the peak time of the day between 12:00 and 14:00. I did end the day with a bit of a sweat-rash (in a place that I have no intention of mentioning) and my legs do feel a bit tired today. It is understandable, I’ve not done a standing job for over 25 years!

I don’t think I made any mistakes and everyone seems to be quite pleased with me. Unfortunately, I did forget to turn off the water heater when I went home yesterday. The boss did say that it did not matter too much, but I was a bit annoyed with myself at forgetting. I think I’ll make a list on my phone of the jobs I need to do at the end of the day. See if that helps.

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Talking of phones, I’m getting a new one tomorrow. It’s bought and paid for and I just need to pick it up from the local Tesco in the afternoon. K*** bought a new iPhone as her old one just was not working properly. I just kept cutting out whenever she used it and the reception on it wasn’t the best. I like the phone I have. It was the phone I wanted when it came out and was top of the range at the time. However that time was about 4 years ago and the poor thing is starting to show it’s age. Apps don’t open properly and there is very little space to work with on the phone itself. So I’ve opted for a “Moto G6 Play Gold” which is a bit of a mouthful I know. Seems to have all the features I want, although I may have to order a new sim card from ‘3’ before I can use it.

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I think I got the job …


Well, I’m having a ‘trial’ day on the 10th and the words were “…to see how you cope, then we’ll go from there…” When I asked about a start date if successful, he told me that I’ll “…just carry on…” and finished with “…we’ll both know after a couple of weeks…” We shook hands and I left feeling both slightly bemused and pleasantly proud.

It was the strangest interview I have ever been in. He first asked why I wanted the particular job, which I explained that the hours, type of work and location were what I had been looking for. He then went on to explain aboutDishwasher the place, its history and what he was wanting to do in the future. I then got a ‘tour’ of the kitchen, which was tiny, followed by a demonstration of how to use the dishwasher and an explanation of how hot it gets. He asked me if I had any questions, and that was it. No references, no reflection time, no “I’ll get back to you when I’ve seen the others” type of phrase, just “ See you on the 10th!” So the 10th it is. To be honest, apart from the size of the kitchen (two chefs, one porter and a waitress or two could get a bit cosy!), I don’t see I’m going to have too much of a problem, but time will tell.

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Cats! Or more specifically, what cats like to leave in our garden. Three times this week K*** has had the unenviable task of removing cat mess from the flower bed at the front of the house. It seems that there are three cats in the close neighbourhood and I think I have narrowed it down to just one of them. It usually happens at night or early morning and the smell can be very offensive. We’ve put down coffee grinds which is supposed to deter them, but a slight shower and the effectiveness appears to wear off.

What I fail to grasp is why are cats any different to dogs when it comes to fouling? Most dog owners control their pets when they are outside, but cat owners seems to have a different attitude. Most of them just open their doors and let the animal out without any control whatsoever. The cat then can go wherever it wants and do whatever it wants. It seems wrong to me.

There’s a crossing of fingers …


I’ve got a job interview today! No-one is more gobsmacked than me. It’s the hours I was looking for, the days I wanted (no weekends) and the area could not be better. The job is “Kitchen Porter” at a café in Wetherby called PomfretsPomfrets. It is a highly renowned establishment and get excellent reviews on-line. Now I know some people will say that going on my experience and qualifications, I am over qualified for that type of job, but to me that doesn’t matter. I’m looking for a job that will give a bit of ‘pocket money’ for a few hours a week. I don’t want a career path, and am not looking for promotions, just a job that I can do without the pressures of trying to prove I can do better. I’ve been there and done that, and I don’t want to go back to that type of work. It’s come up at just the right time really. The end of October sees the 2nd anniversary of my early retirement/voluntary redundancy. I did hope at the time, that I would have a job within 6 months, but the jobs that came through the recruitment sites all had either too many hours, had weekend work or the location was too far. As I say, this one ticks all the boxes. Fingers crossed

Not happy … Daily Prompt


I’m fast coming to the conclusion, that the iOS WordPress app should be renamed the iOs WordPress (CR)app. I’m sat in the sun, with a nice drink and I quite fancy having a go at today’s Daily Prompt. “Hmmm,” I think to myself. “How do I get the ‘ping-back’ with the issue I’m having opening the Daily Prompt notification?” I know! I can go to the Dashboard, open the notification from there, then open the post and copy the link. I’ll just have another drink before I start.

Twenty minutes later, and the bl**dy post is showing as “Not available…” Awkward is not the word I used. It is so frustrating and I cannot believe I am the only one having this issue. I don’t like using the editor, as I prefer to double, even triple check my musings before they go public. I’m using the BlogPad Pro app, which I’m gradually getting used to, and I don’t want to have to lug a laptop on holiday with me. I know I don’t post every Daily Prompt, but it would be nice to do so when I want to.

The developers are supposing looking at the problem, but it seems to be taking some time over it. I know where I worked, if we had a problem, I would have to have it fixed within a couple of days or questions would have been asked!

Career, what career?


This was a post on LinkedIn with the hashtag #what did I want to be when I was 15 and I thought it would be good here too.

The year is 1970 and I’ve just had my 15th birthday, literally and I’m in the deputy head’s office for a cTeacherhat with the careers master. It’s coming up to the end of my 4th year and this is where I’ll find out if I’m going to the 5th year or not. In those days, if you were considered ‘bright enough’ you could go on for a further year and then possibly a 6th year at another school. This did not happen to many kids at my school.

Up to this day, I fancied being an architect, but I’ve just been told that I am not creative enough for that job and should think of something else. The deputy head is the Technical Drawing (TD) teacher and also the class teacher for year 5. He suggests that as I have a knack for TD, then a draughtsman could be a good choice. So that was my choice, a draughtsman. Taking the architects ideas and putting them down in a detailed drawing. Sorted.

Moving on to January 1971 and the results of my CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) mocks indicate that the 3 grade 2s and 1 grade 1, I needed for Technical College, are not going to be forthcoming. So, there is another meeting with the deputy head where I must make another career choice. Just like that. I did have a second choice, which was catering, and that is where I ended up. I was always disappointed that my first choice was side-lined, as I did get the grades I would have needed.

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Whenever I talk or write about my schooldays it never fails to invoke laughter, especially HFTSamong the younger people. They cannot believe some of the things that happened way back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. You tell them about the punishments that were handed out and they are amazed. One English teacher used to have small flat bat, which was called “Heat For The Seat”. You can probably imagine what use it was put to.

Have I answered my own query …


Last month, I posed the question about upgrading to a paid plan rather than the free plan I currently use. The type of blog I write is basically a random thought blog. I think of something or something is on my mind, and I write a few words about it. My wife’s argument was that I ‘…don’t write enough to warrant the fee …’ and my counter was that ‘…it would encourage me to write more…’ Now I’m not sure who wins that particular discussion as I think both are valid. But, and there always is a ‘but’ it’s been over three weeks since I felt the need to sit down and say something, so maybe my wife is correct. On the other hand would a fee encourage me? A lot more thought needs to go into this I think.

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Mrs H is out tonight. She has gone with her sister to see a musical play at the theatre in Leeds. R*** went on respite this morning, so I’m ‘Home Alone’ as the saying goes and pondering on what I want to eat. Do I have a bacon and eggs, maybe egg and chips or quite possibly something else and chips? K*** always says ‘Have something nice for dinner …’ and I always reply that I will. It will probably be fish-fingers again. It usually is fish-fingers! Or … I could go out! Now that would be different. But where would I go and what would I get to eat? I did it once, went out that is. It was when K*** was away for a few days back in 2015. I thought ‘I’m going out to eat!’ I ended up at a McDonalds and I ordered the same as I usually order. So it looks like the usual will happen and I’ll settle for fish-fingers (yawn…)

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Been doing a bit of decorating today. The hall and staircase was the task and I had to start with the ceiling. The ceiling has three levels decreasing in size as you come down the stairs. All the ceilings except for the bathrooms have a cornice. It’s a bit 90’s style, but it does break up the height a little. The real issue with decorating the hall and staircase is the access. It almost takes longer to move the ladders round the  area that it does to actually paint the thing. The second issue, and it’s almost big an issue the access, is seeing what you have painted. I’m putting white emulsion on top of white emulsion, so you can probably see where I’m coming from. Still it’s done. The next job is the walls and for that, I’m putting ‘Pale Hessian’ emulsion on guess what? Correct, Pale Hessian. Expect the same volley of bad language as before.

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The on-going saga of the eldest son’s relationship break-up continues. His ex-girlfriend has opted to go down the road of a formal ‘separation agreement’. It’s probably the wisest move as it will legitimise the break-up and all that goes with it, but it is a cost that he cannot afford. We’ve told him not to worry about it as I can cover the cost, but it doesn’t leave him with a comfortable feeling. He doesn’t see why we should get him out of what he calls ‘his mess-up’. We have tried telling him that’s what parents do, but he still finds it difficult. It is going to be a long few weeks ahead. The big issue is that he cannot get his own place until he has been removed from the mortgage/help-to-buy agreement, and that could be a long drawn out procedure. It shouldn’t be, but it could be, if his ‘ex’ does not get the correct advice. Watch this space.

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It has now been over a year since I retired. I’ve been looking for some part-time work, but I may have narrowed my options too far. I’m looking for no more than 12-14 hours per week, in a location around about 5 miles from home, with no weekend work. I gat an application pack for a post in the local council garden centre, but when I looked into it deeper, it turned out to be a ‘zero hours’ contract with no fixed working days. Basically I could be working, for example 20 hours one week then nothing for the next couple of weeks. Just not what I wanted at all, and I’m not sure I want to work in a garden centre.. I’ve an application in to work as a receptionist at a local doctors surgery, but I’m not holding out much hope. When have you ever seen a male doctors receptionist?

Finally over …


This, of course, refers to our new bathroom. The fitters finished at around 1pm on Friday, but there was an issue with the lighting. They just couldn’t get it to work. The issue started on Thursday morning when they had fitted the ‘over the sink’ cupboard clip_image001which has two LED strip lights to light it up. No matter what the guys clip_image002did, there was no lighting. One of them called the electrician that they use, who couldn’t come straight away, but promised to come early that afternoon. He didn’t turn up. Next time we had was Friday morning which quickly changed to Friday afternoon. We needed him to be away before R*** came home at 5pm. The guy turned up at around 5:30, which was too late if he needed to turn off the main power supply. So it was arranged for him to come on the following Monday, just after 9am, which he did. Took about an hour, and when he finished he explained that one of the cupboard lights was not working. He had informed the company we were buying the bathroom off and they advised that they would be ordering a new one. That was fitted yesterday. K*** is very pleased with the outcome and we both think they have done a good job. It was not cheap by any means, but it is 1000 times better than it was before.

I do think the company is missing a trick though. I would have taken some photos before the job was started and more when it was finished. I would have then asked for permission to upload them to the company website, as a ‘Before & After’ type of self-advertisement. Could even have a few shots (not many though) of the fitters doing the job.

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I thought I had found the perfect part-time job for myself yesterday. I don’t want (or need at the moment) a job with many hours. This one would have only been 7 hours, on a Friday doing mainly admin work on the reception desk at a local school. Slightly fewer hours than I was looking for, but it would have been something.

Now, the issue here was that when I took early retirement, there were some conditions laid down. The main one was that I could not work for the Council, either paid or voluntary for 12 months from my final working date. This was because it wasn’t actually retirement in its usual capacity. How it worked was that I was taking voluntary redundancy (VR) and that the Council had arranged with the Local Government Pension scheme, that I could take my pension and lump sum early. As the closing date for this job is the 9th October, I would be in breach of the VR terms by applying before the 1st November.

A little disappointing, but it’s been the first time I have seen anything, that I know I could do with the hours that would suit. I just have to hope that they re-advertise the job again. It sometimes happens.

And on it goes …


So we are on day four of the new bathroom (weekends don’t count) and it seems (?) to be all going to plan. Well someone’s plan anyway. It does seem to be taking a long time. The guys are just on with the grouting of the tiles at the moment, and I understand that the cleaning of the tiles afterwards is a long job, due to the type of tile we have chosen. At the moment, there is the floor to lay, the toilet and sink to fit, the wall unit and under-sink cupboard to install, the lighting to install and fan to remove and finally before the cleanup, a new radiator to fit. They are supposed to finish by Friday … I’m not too sure about that. The main problem is that we can’t do anything. We have had to shut all three bedroom doors to keep the dust down which means that upstairs is out-of-bounds really. K*** has gone to have her nails done and to see her parents, but I have never been comfortable in leaving workmen alone in the house. Even those that we sort of trust. You hear so many stories of break-ins after work has been done. And they do like their tea/coffee breaks, which may account for the time factor.

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I did a silly thing a few weeks ago. It didn’t seem so silly at the time, but I am really regretting it now. You see when I left work, I had taken a copy of all the user guides, help documents and training manuals that I had written over the years.  I thought they would come in useful. Well about six or seven weeks ago, whilst (do you say ‘while’ or ‘whilst’?) doing a clear out of old stuff on my computer I took the random decision to dump them all. Now normally I would have copied them onto a CD just in case, but on this occasion I just deleted them. I now realise that it was a bad idea, as that kind of thing can come in useful when looking for a job.

I know that they were all in a single folder on the works computer network, and I have emailed a colleague a few times and asked if he could look for them, but he has not got back to me about them. He has been on leave, but I kind of get the feeling that he is not too happy with sending me them. I can’t be sure, but he either does not reply to the email or tactfully avoids the question. I think I may have to accept that for me, they have gone forever which is sad.

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More on the eldest lad’s predicament. After a lot of thought and input from others, he has decided that he cannot afford to keep the current house. His ‘ex’ has said that she would take it on under the same terms that she offered him. Basically, he would come off the mortgage and she would pay him a lump sum that equated to the half money that they had put into the property that could not be reasonably divided up. Thinks like carpets, lighting, appliances and the like. He is really up for this and me and K*** went to look at a new build not too much further away than he is now. It looked nice, but when he mentioned the location to his colleague, who knows the area, he was advised to not even consider it. It was a shame because it would have given him a three bedroom, semi-detached house at an affordable price. No amount of talking last night would change his mind. He is now looking at a new two bedroomed property, in an almost city centre location which, with a little help he could afford. This story could run for a long time.

It seems so much longer …


Strange post title some may think, but today it is three months since I retired from working life. Not a long time, but like the title says “Seems so much longer …” Of course, my initial plan has gone out of the window. My intention was to have a part-time job before Christmas. Nothing too much. Somewhere around 16 hours, just to give me a bit of pocket/petrol money. At the moment, it is not needed and to be honest, there does not seem to have been anything in the offering that I feel I would have enjoyed. However, now that Christmas is over, maybe the type of work I would want to do will start to resurface.

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With work in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I contacted my old boss. My security access card was still sitting in the glove compartment of my car. It was my intention to call in at my old office, just before Christmas (possibly on the day when they had their Christmas fuddle!) and hand my card in then. It never happened. Or more to the point, I never made it happen. I bottled out, I’m afraid to say. There are many reasons for this, but at the moment I want to keep them private.

So, I contacted my old boss to explain and to ask for her address to send the card back. I did the usual and ask how things were going on etc etc. It took a couple of weeks, but she replied today. The email was brief, but had a lot of information, and I felt enough confidence to email a couple of other colleagues to ask how they were.

It is unfortunate that I only have their work email as I feel it takes some of the personal aspect out of it. Still, I hope that they get back to me, as at the moment, I still want/need to keep in contact.

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Yet again, on the subject of blogging I was asked “What is you blog about?” And, yet again I get the same puzzled look when I reply that it is just about ‘What I want to write about, when I want to write it!’ I don’t have a theme, it’s just general ‘rants & raves’ with a slight emphasis on the ranting aspect.

It has given me food for thought though. Maybe, just maybe I could add a paragraph or two about my hobbies! As I say, food for thought.

Not letting it bother me …


I’m trying to not let it bother me, but t does slightly. I’ve been trying to contact a colleague. Nothing serious, but I don’t want to lose touch with the few real friends I had at work. I have known and worked with D*** for 6 maybe 7 years, and we always got on really well. Now there may well be a simple explanation, but he has not replied to any of my emails, and the text to his work phone went unanswered too. I have initially put it down to him having a new phone number and the possibility that the email I have been using is being blocked by the works server, for whatever reason.

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It’s been an interesting week though. S**** and A**** have been doing behind the scene work for this years village pantomime. K*** invited them both round for dinner on Wednesday and Thursday, to save them have to drive to and from their home. She picked S**** up from work and they did a few jobs that he needed to sort out. They arrived back here at around 4ish, and S**** had brought A****’s dog! Now, I may have mentioned this before, but I’m not a huge fan of pets, and neither is R***, so I was a bit surprised when he walked in. The dog in question, is a miniature dachshund. No more than a foot long, but quite hyperactive and giddy. S**** was a bit concerned about leaving the dog for the whole evening. I was more concerned about what R*** would do. In the end, he was fine. Very tentative when the animal was around, and he did not like when it startled him, but he coped.

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I have spoken before above how R*** sleeps with his television on all night. We think it’s a comfort thing, but nobody knows for sure. So at 8pm on Friday evening it came as a bit of a shock when his TV started to go to ‘standby’ and would not say on. I tried all sorts of ‘fixes’, none of which worked (they never do) before Googling the issue. The replies I found indicated that it was more than likely to be something called ‘ the volt caps are overheating’ whatever that meant. Basically it meant it was broken. It could possibly be repaired, but the chances were that the repair wouldn’t last long and that the cost of the repair, if we could find someone to do it, would be as much as the cost of a new one.

We had a bit of a melt-down, whilst we tried to explain that we would get him a new one in the morning. He could not understand. For a couple of hours, all we got was ‘dad to fix it’ and ‘television on’. His medication eventually calmed and settled him, but it was a tense night. K***’s biggest worry was that she would not be able to get a new one on the Saturday morning. My worry was that it would not fit in the room as although K*** had the details, she was toying with the idea of getting a bigger one.

This particular story ends in success though. New TV purchased (right size too), fitted on the wall (same fitting as before), installed and up and running within 30 minutes.

Then we had to get him used to the ‘dog’ visiting again. This time from 1pm until late. Again he coped very well, but I can’t help wondering what he would have been like if we had not got him a new TV …

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IMG_0020It is just to see what they look like, but I have put up my knitted Christmas decorations.

I’ll explain what I have done here. On the right we have 5 small Christmas stockings. Each one has ‘candy cane’ in it. On the left we have three white bells, each one has one of those tiny dog collar tinkle bells as the clapper. So they actually make a noise. It’s taken a coupe of weeks, on and off, to get them finished, and I have to admit, they do look quite good. Feeling quite proud.

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*** Now this I find interesting. Since starting this post, I tried to send an email to my old work email address using the email address I had been using before. I got no acknowledgement or anything. I then tried sending to the same address from a different email alias that I use. This time I got delivery failure message, which basically means that my work email account has been deactivated. So why didn’t I get the same message with the first email? Does give slightly more evidence that that particular email address is being blocked.

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 finally arrived …


After what seemed like an eternity (maybe a slight exaggeration) today has finally arrived. I am now officially retired. Well not quite! Today was the last day I was working. My last contracted is Monday, but as I had managed to build up enough ‘flexi time’, I was able to finish at 3:15pm today.

It seems to have been a long three weeks back at the main office. Even the days when I was quite busy dragged on. But now it’s over. How do I feel? I don’t know. I don’t really know how I feel yet. I thought it has sunk in, but I not sure if I have got my head around the idea that I have retired.

So back to today. It started as a normal day, except for the photos lifted from Facebook that seemed to be plastered around the office. Nothing was different at all. People were getting on with their work and I was busy tidying up the files on my laptop. Then it all started. The manager turned up at around 11:00 and presented me with the biggest cake I had IMAG0546ever seen.

She had told me that she had ordered cake(s) as a celebration, but nothing prepared me for this. She also gave me a bottle of Cava, as I had said I was not having a leaving party and a card also.

This was from her. It wasn’t a team thing. It was my managers way of thanking me for everything I had done. I have to admit, I was taken aback slightly, and if the truth were known, I got a little emotional, but successfully did not show it.

Then at 2pm came the official presentation. I got my official gift from the Council for such long service and with it was £30.00 pounds worth of Amazon vouchers from the staff. The manager gave the customary ‘things that people might not know’ speech and I responded with the customary feeble thank you. Then it was all over! Hugs and handshakes all round and I was on my way home. The only downside, was that a good friend from the other office thought I was finishing on Monday and has got a present for me. I was a little disappointed … no scratch that, I was a bit upset about it. I think I might have a drive down there on Monday or Tuesday and see him. I will have to think about it.