Sim’s visit

Sim arrived Tues pm for a couple of days stay to make a start on the Oak Cottage Plants Website. Good to see him – as always. It was really a working visit: apart from mealbreaks we worked on the site pretty much non-stop. Tues pm and eve saw basic design decisions – a “Welcome” page and a couple of other pages not driven by the cart database, colour scheme, and some design of basic buttons. Weds was spent on bringing the colour scheme of the cart into line with basic design decisions (much swearing at .css design, and a bit of hacking of .php).

Sim also signed up with a web host upgrade, so he should have a host we can upload to within a couple of days. Sim spent some time sorting out terms & conditions, privacy statement, etc, and getting to grips with the html area basic editor that Zen Cart uses.

Ended late on Tues, shortly before Toby arrived to stay the night: all had a pleasant chat for 20 minutes, and I finally remembered to hand over the much-delayed Christmas / Birthday presents for that family! Sim left around 0900 Thurs.

Boiler – again

Engineer arrived on Weds pm as promised. He said that he knew the cause of the “rapid flashing” fault (sticking exhaust fan), and sure enough this seems to be fixed. however, the longstanding (slow flashing) fault with the electronic ignition is still present. Bummer, given the freezing weather, and I’ll have to re-report it.


Letter from the pensions people arrived just before Sim on Tues, confirming my pension entitlement – they do seem at last to have caught up with my time in Scotland! Payment on 26th of each month … and return form with copy birth certificate etc, and a note of any transfer of money from lump sum to added pension. After some discussion with Sim, I don’t think I’ll do this – I may need the money for cashflow if I move, and the rate of return they are offering is only 4.95% at my age: I can get 5% in a saving account with First Direct! (although this would not be index-linked, of course). Form posted back on Thursday, along with a letter requesting payment of lump sum direct to my bank account as I don’t want them to risk the post in Tottenham!!

Job application

Phone call at lunchtime on Thursday inviting me to an interview for the part-time post at The Castle, Wellingborough that I’d applied for. It sounds like a job I could really enjoy, and very much the kind of thing that I’m looking for. While Wellingborough (Northants) is just a little further away than I’d ideally been looking at, the general area of Oxon / Buck / Berks / Northants is the area I’d most like. I’d honestly have been a bit peeved if they hadn’t asked me for interview, as I’m very well qualified indeed for the post. After that, I always reckon it is as much about personalities as anything, so as long as I get an interview I don’t think “blame” attaches on either side if I don’t get the job. Anyway, next Tues (21st) at mid-day – 10am originally offered, but later is better as it avoids peak-time travel (and is half the cost). Must decide which suit I’m wearing and get it cleaned tomorrow.

Now an ex-smoker!

Quit meeting Thursday – last cigarette at 1853 on 16th March. Prescription arrived Thurs pm, so have strong 24-hour patches (chemist out of stock of rest of the course, so pick it up tomorrow). On precription = £6.50, as opposed to the £167 it would have been if I’d bought over the counter.

Also got an inhalator – just because I think that (as at present) there are times when I need the finger / hand / mouth actions. Plus a stock of fruit, chewing gum, etc…

There may be frequent updates to the blog as a distraction from feeling stressed over having given up – boring, but it’s a major thing in my life at present!

I think I’m getting serious

Yesterday am to the doctors. Dr Sargeant has left the practice – a shame as I always got on well with her, and she had seen me through the whole process of becoming disabled and understood quite a lot about me. However, I saw Dr Singh – Monica, in fact. Thirties, very professional, very sympathetic, obviously caring – I really liked her.

We discussed Zyban – unfortunately (as I’d slightly suspected) it is in fact an SSRI, and given my history of adverse reactions to assorted SSRI’s (suicidal thoughts, impotence, virtual blindness due to eye tremors ….) it’s clearly not a suitable route for me. She said she would be happy to prescribe NRT if she has a letter from the smoking cessation group, so I picked one up at the meeting last night. Given that the cost of a standard course from Boots and other chemists is around £170, a prescription could be a considerable saving!

I also talked to her about applying for part-time jobs: she’s made a note in the file that it’s something I’d discussed with Dr Sargeant, so hopefully any enquiries from prospective employers will meet a positive response.

Then into town to see Guiseppe for a long-overdue haircut. Actually, Joseph cut it last time, and didn’t really taken enough off – I usually reckon that a haircut lasts six to eight weeks, and the last time it had only lasted about five (although it was 7 before I got round to having it cut – the cold weather we’ve had really discouraged me from going out).

Then home for a much-needed nap: Weds night had been a bad one resulting in only around 2 hours sleep before the alarm went off at 0630h to get up for the doctors’ at 0940.

Smoking cessation group in the evening was motivating. I’m thinking in some detail about what kind of distraction techniques I can use once I quit (which will be at 1900h on Thurs 16th March 2006) – posting to this blog is on the list.

One of the recent topics and subjects headers on the ex-MCS e-mail group (of schoolmates) I belong to was “No smoke without fire” … so I announced my intention of quitting to the group under the subject heading “No Smoke at All?” Obviously, I’m nervous about committing myself in “public” – and I certainly don’t intend to tell family! – but there’s something in “Lord of the Rings” about “sworn word may strengthen faltering hearts …” As promised, CO levels were measured and mine came in at 29 … actually lower than I’d expected as the guide says:

11 – 20 – smokers

21 – 39 Definitely smokers!

40 – 79 Heavy smokers including pipe and cigar smokers.

and I consider myself a heavy smoker.

I *really* want to be a ex-smoker! But I’m terrified of “quitting”.

think I’m gonna quit


A regular e-mail arrived last weekend from PACE about courses they and other organisations are running. One of them was a smoking cessation course – run by GMFA in Soho. As the course started on Thurs 2nd March – only five days after the e-mail – I thought it would be booked out, but applied for it anyway … and got a mail last Sunday saying I had a place.

So I went along on Thursday. It seems an incredibly focussed group, and the course leaders have very strong goals, but are equally clear that a decision to quit is a personal one, and everyone has times in their life when quitting may just not be possible because of others things in people’s lives. They say that has the highest success rate of UK groups that are properly assessed (ie proper follow-ups), and attribute this to being a gay group: they think it’s a setting where men are less uncomfortable about really expressing their feelings about the process and the struggle it can be.

CO level will be measured next week as a baseline, and weekly thereafter so any backsliders will be detected … one is not allowed to return to the group if one relapses (defined as buying a pack, or smoking a whole cigarette, but a single lapse of a puff in a pub which is rapidly stubbed out would be OK, provided at least 24 hours before the group meeting).

There was a long session on the various Nicotine Replacement Therapies available, and a session on Zyban (which cuts cravings in some people). While I like the idea of Zyban, one of the guys (cute, name of Adam), said he’d tried it and went blind after eight days … sounds not unlike the effects I had with one of the SSRI’s I was prescribed in 2004, although I must ask Adam for more details. However, I think it is worth discussing with my GP – I need to see her anyway to discuss working part-time (as she’s bound to be asked by prospective employers), and whether I decide to try Zyban or stick with NRT patches it would be much cheaper to have a prescription!

The course runs for seven sessions, and we can smoke as much as we want until QUIT DAY which is 16th March … during the session, in the evening, which is a bit of a bummer because I think I’d do better on a “new day, new leaf” approach. However, I feel that quitting is now something I’d like to do – I’d like to go into any new home, new job, new environment as a non-smoker. I don’t delude myself that it’s going to be easy! However, I guess it’s worth trying the groupwork thing, as I do need some accepting outside support.


Got a text from Sean on wednesday to say that he’d rung up Johnathon in Brazil and proposed to him! I’m delighted – it was very clear when we met that Sean was deeply in love, and J is a really sweet boy who clearly is deeply affectionate (in his first real relationship). I texted Sean back with congratulations, of course – I must ring him to arrange another meet to celebrate and support (I suspect that his family won’t be altogether chuffed at the prospect).

Oak Cottage Plants

Sim gently reminded me last weekend that he is beginning to be in a state where an on-line shop for his plant nursery would be useful. I had a quick review of the e-commerce open-source software that’s around – it doesn’t seem to have changed much since I last looked: still promising “easy to edit” templates “real soon now”. However, I’m a lot happier working with PHP than I was a year ago, and while I still don’t begin to understand the complexities of .css, I know enough to hack an existing stylesheet about enough to make it do most of what I want it to.

Sim doesn’t yet have a suitable host, so I set up a demo version to discuss with him on – it took most of Tues and all day Weds to hack it into a state that I was happy for him to see. He rang me on Fri – we’ve arranged that he’ll come up on Tues 14th and we can sit down and work through the site together, which will be quite a long process I think.

Apart from the benefits of the positive learning involved, I’m keen to do it and have a finished site to my credit: I think it could be a useful thing to point to when prospective employers wnat to know what I’ve been doing with myself since I haven’t been at work!

Wellingborough ?

Thinking about getting a job.

There have been various jobs in “The Stage“, on “Arts Professional“, and elsewhere recently. Most of these are full-time – although I suppose there’s always the possibility of job-share. However, there’s a part-time (20 hours) one at The Castle, Wellingborough, which has rather caught my eye. A new post, as Functions Co-ordinator, to develop the catering / lettings/ conferences etc side of the business. I’m probably ludicrously over-experienced for it in many ways: having had overall responsibility for lettings for 4 venues / 14 rooms in my current (nearly last) job … although my specifically sales experience is not very recent (1990-3 ish) I did have three years as a Sales Manager so that should also be a consideration.

On the other hand, I haven’t been at work for 18 months, and they may worry about my physical ability to do the job. I think that I’ll need to see my GP and go through a few things … although 20 hours a week is on a par with what LBE were suggesting, and I feel sure that I could cope on that basis. Also, I think that it will be largely customer-driven, so hours may not be that regular … meet customers when customers are free. That may mean working split hours, which would be a positive bonus for me! The pay, of course, is frankly lousy (it would be around £8,500 pa), but I think I need the challenge of being at work, meeting people, and it would be better than benefits!

So, next couple of days will be spent filling in the application form to maximise my employer-appeal.

exit interview, meeting Sean

Exit interview

Exit interview went really well. Matthew was about ten minutes late turning up for it, but once we got started it was really constructive, and he seemed to take on board a lot of the points – especially those about “disability” being different from the “race” and “gender” equalities because it is unique to each individual, and people may wish to be “in the closet” about the way in which they are disabled (especially to their line managers!). He seems to take an especial interest in stress/depression and I pointed out the problems of “reactive” depression (on becoming disabled) …, I rather think that he feels that a considerable reduction in “lost working days” is possible with a not-too-great investment in appropriate handling (and, as a given, decent managers) which would make this a cost-effective “quick win”.

He asked me what I was doing after I finish, and seems to think that he may ask me to get involved in preliminary assessments of training that he is commissioning – which I would certainly be happy to do. It probably wouldn’t pay, but it would be personally satisfying, and also look good on the CV! I do have the advantage of ticking two boxes at once (“gay” and “disabled”), and I know that I was on top form for our discussion, coming across as articulate, passionate about equalities, and concentrating on the constructive.

Interview ended at 1455, but I stayed in the Unison office talking to Steve for nearly an hour. He’s submitting a paper to Corporate Equalities Working Group tomorrow (entitled”Giving The Council A Ticking Off – Does the Council Deserve To Use The Disability Symbol?), and I had some input to that. He mailed me a copy of the final thing, which I received when I got home at 2230h … I was a bit pissed off but not very surprised to see that the paper says “The perception that many disabled people feel unsupported is likely to be more quantifiable when the results of the recent Employee Survey are published. ” This suggests that the survey has actually happened: if it did, it didn’t include me, and may well have also missed others who are currently not at work because of disabilities … so the result may seriously underestimate the effect tht current and past practice has had on disabled employees. I mailed Steve late last night (unusually for me, flagging the mail as high priority, because I’m not sure what time his meeting was).

I then spent a happy hour or so wandering round “shopping”. Visit to the Oxfam bookshop where I picked up a novel by Peter Robbins “Ruined Boys”, plus a book of Theatre History source documents which looks fascinating. Then to W H Smith to pick up “The Stage” – there are a couple of job adverts in this week which if I were not disabled would really attract me, so I’ll check out websites etc and see if I think it’s worth contacting them about possible jobshares or similar ways of doing part-time. Then to Poco Loco for a coffee.


It was really good to see Sean again. He was clearly missing Johnathon (who is back in Brazil, but may come back over here at the end of the year). He’s obviously seriously in love, and all the better for it – couldn’t happen to a nicer man. Sean’s course is still going well, and I’m sure he’ll make an excellent psychotherapist: he is deeply empathic, and full of a warm emotional intelligence.

We had a very pleasant meal at the Italian just up the road from Poco Loco. Wide-ranging talk as always – covering areas of “God” / the divine as an emergent property of life, Gaia, slime moulds, and theories of religion (I have promised to mail him the details of “Theories of Primitive Religion” by E. E. Evans-Pritchard, which I think was very influential in helping me formulate my own views).

Also had a rather interesting discussion about the “feeling of being different” that many gay people have from a very early age (in my case, around four or five years old). I think we both feel that this is in fact NOT the same as the experience of oneself as an individual that everyone goes through (as an afterthought, this may be society-specific), and that this has profound implications for feelings of being “on one’s own / alone” – ie one has never felt anything but on one’s own, no matter how close to loving family one may be! I think this was one of the very few areas where I felt that my (very useful) last course of psychotherapy didn’t hit the mark, because the therapist was straight. If, further down the line, I decide that would like more therapy, or even counselling, I think that I will seriously have to consider the sexual orientation of the therapist to be a factor.

Also had a discussion about life coaches- neither Sean nor I seem to think very much of them! And at the end of the evening Sean said that I seemed to be very relaxed, much more confident and outgoing, and he thought it was good. I’m not sure how much of that was the aftereffects of my exit interview, and how much that’s me getting back to the effective personna that was my normal social self until my self-confidence was undermined by becoming disabled, but I took it as a compliment, anyway. And, of course, it’s an interactive thing – Sean was more relaxed and open than he’s been with me before (why is it that gay men find it so easy to talk about the supposedly personal things like sex, but so difficult to talk about the really personal ones like love and religion?).

All in all, a really good day. got home around 2230h, and was totally wired – didn’t go to bed until 0400h , to sleep around 0500h, woke around 1000h. Surprisingly, not feeling too physically stressed by yesterday (wearing thermal long-johns and T-shirt probably was wise, and I wasn’t outside all that much). I seem to be fairly mobile this morning, although it is utterly foul with grey skies and intermittent sleet

exit interview preparation

Prep for exit interview.

Spent last night rounding up the various bits for my exit interview tomorrow. Took me a while to find what I’d done with my staff ID badge: I’d been looking for it in a plastic holder, on a standard retractable leash. However, I’d forgotten that the leash had broken last time I used it, so the card was with the other cards in my wallet. DUH! Also rounded up the original CD of all the work files I’d copied to my home PC, and sorted through my PC to make sure that all relevant work files were in a single directory so that I can delete them on 9th March. I need the space, apart from anything else.

My ID card photo was taken without warning back in 2001 – I’d been at LBE for a couple of months, but they hadn’t been able to arrange a photo session. I got a call the morning before I’d booked an extremely overdue barber appointment. The photo session was in a building up the road, there was a rainstorm, and there was no-where to even comb my hair before the session – no mirror, no toilets, typical of the “old-style” LBE. So this scan of it is not flattering!

Tomorrow night …

I haven’t heard back from Sean – he suggested we meet up tomorrow night, but that was ten days ago or so. I’ve mailed him to say “is it on?”. I’m in two minds about it anyway – although it’s been ages since I’ve seen him, and I’d really like to hear how his course is going and whether he’s recovered from a slightly dodgy Christmas, tomorrow may not actually be the best day if my exit interview doesn’t go well and I’m het up and irritated! However, as he suggested the date, and as my interview is only a few hundred yards down the road from where he lives, it seemed sensible to go for it, when we made provisional arrangements a fortnight ago. It *will* mean hanging round the Ealing area for a couple of hours though – although I suppose that I could always go shopping (how gay can I get?).

And it’s been a foul day: irregular hailstorms, heavy grey cloud. Hope it improves tomorrow!

a grey day, a grey kind of posting

I’d been planning to go on an OUT trip to the Foundling Hospital yesterday, but I got a message from Yragael (the organiser) on Friday saying that he would have to call it off. I’m not really surprised – I gather he’s been in and out of hospital for the past couple of weeks, and I think it’s a tribute to his determination that he left it until then to decide that he really wasn’t up to it. Hopefully, it will be re-arranged for later in the year.

I’ve also still been feeling a bit shitty from the interminable sinus / throat infection I’ve had: really not feeling up to doing much at all. We had a couple of hailstorms midweek, and the weather since then has been a bit warmer but very damp – just the kind of thing that really restricts my mobility.

There was a bit of a spat on timmy’s message board (over the issue of flirting / inappropriate behaviour) and I sent one of the parties a couple of messages of support privately. I think it’s the first time I’ve done this – on the whole, I would prefer all my correspondence on that board to be a matter of public record, but on this occasion I thought that a private mail was called for. I trust the person enough to have given him my landline number in case he starts feeling really low over things … as he’s older than me, I don’t think this is an unacceptable risk. I don’t suppose he’ll use it, anyway: it’s more a question of showing trust in him, at a time when he felt his integrity was being (wrongly) called into question. The situation now seems to have been resolved – if not totally amicably, at least with all parties having an understanding of each others views.


On the website front, I’ve now redesigned this blog to fully integrate with the site, and finally sorted out an archive list page! I’m still not sure what was wrong with the syntax of previous attempts, but this time it works. However, I still can’t find any way of centring the list, so the archive page has a lot of dummy spacer cells in it – which looks OK at my resolution but may be a bit difficult on 800×600 (will check on the laptop). I’m not bothering to design for 640×480 … which is a bit naughty of me, but I really don’t think it’s used much. Archive is now weekly rather than monthly … but may change back when the archive page gets too long.

Also on the website – and here – I’ve sorted the problem with calling the menu from an external .js file, which is excellent as it means that I don’t have to revise every single page when the menu changes. For the time being, the “work” pages don’t use this menu, but a rollover menu along the top: in some ways I want to keep a bit of a distinction between “personal” stuff and the “work” pages, although they are fully interlinked and share the same background colour, main logo etc.

putting myself about a bit …

Putting myself about a bit.

Spent a fair bit of time over the past week thinking about jobs and stuff. I re-did a generic “functional, skills-based” CV, ( posted at )which I’ve submitted to a number of job-seeking websites. Bastards – there’s obviously no vetting of potential employers, as I’ve had half-a-dozen pretty obvious scam-type emails of the “you may not have thought of doing this, make £££ at home, all you need is a computer and a bank account” sort. However, I suppose it all helps get me in the mindset of work!

I’ve also discovered . As it suggests, specialises in everything part-time, including part-time jobs, so I’ve added it to the sites I regularly check (Arts Professional and The Stage). I’m also subscribed to the public/charitable sector site Jobs Go Public, and to The Guardian site … as I have been for a number of years, although I’ve recently updated the criteria that they use to search on and e-mail me anything vaguely interesting.

Website stuff

Doing a bit more on my website – mainly concentrating on the work / career side of things. I know that putting up a couple of pages about past achievements isn’t exactly going to help me to get a job, but it does certainly help in making me realise that in many ways I have achieved a lot in my professional life, and that I can be assertive and positive thinking when it comes to looking at what I’m going to do next.

Getting shot of it

I now have a date for an exit interview from my about-to-be-former employers: 22nd February. I actually leave them on 9th March, but I’ll take the opportunity at the meeting to return my ID card, and the CD copy of the work files that I’ve kept at home. I’ve been thinking on-and-off about the points I want to cover … really hoping that this is going to be useful and that they can take some of the points on board! There’s a new “statutory duty to promote disability equality” coming in, and they ***really*** need to get their act together.

My current thoughts on the ground I want to cover are:

Disability is not like the other big equalities issues (ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation) in that one can “become” disabled (most of the others are static, except possibly religion and self-identified sexual orientation which may change slowly). This means that it has to be recorded and managed in a dynamic way – it seems that this does not reliably happen, in that the records consulted during restructuring did not pick up my disability.

Additionally, the process of “becoming” a disabled person is likely in many cases to generate “reactive depression” of varying severity: it is essential that this is recognised, and that advocacy or other strategies are explicitly available to assist those who for this reason may not be able to be proactive about their situation.

Again – unlike race and gender – disability is not necessarily visible, and models of equalities management that are based on sex/race will not work with disability (or religion, or sexual orientation – with which it shares the characteristic that many will be “in the closet”).

Unlike other equalities – except probably religion – disability is unique to the individual and this needs to be explicitly recognised and managed. It isn’t like gender (yes/no) or ethnicity (the dozen or so census categories). There are almost no commonalities between “sensory impairment”, “wheelchair user”, “ambulant disabled” – let alone those disabled by other factors such as Aspergers.

Local holding of budgets may institutionally discriminate against the disabled in that Services may be reluctant to employ anyone who may “cost extra” (in time or money). A similar thing happens with women of childbearing age, where some departments have avoided employing them for fear of the cost of maternity leave & cover. I strongly urge that budgets are held centrally for both “reasonable adjustments for disability” and for maternity provision, and are accessed through HR specialists rather than line management.

There has historically been a very poor understanding of disability issues among directors, which has served to nullify the efforts made by some middle managers to improve conditions. General understanding among the workforce seems to be very poor indeed. The following specific steps may help, but a major training and awareness initiative is needed if the new ‘statutory duty’ is to be delivered.

All repair and maintenance of buildings should include a disability assessment (eg repainting – could colour contrast be improved to comply with current standards?)

All notices of meetings should include contact details, and a set of checkboxes showing what is provided (eg level access, lift access, inductive loop, vegetarian food, hallal food,). Where breaks have been agreed, they should not be curtailed (I know from experience that objecting to a curtailed break can lead to a long and inappropriate discussion of the specific medical nature of a disability).

Although remote e-mail access is possible, the strong opposition to remote file access prevents effective teleworking even in posts where it is otherwise possible. This is disabling and disempowering, and unlikely to meet the new ‘statutory duty’.

Directors and some senior managers have historically not only set an example of ‘presentism’, but have expected it of middle managers. This disadvantages those who are unable to work extended hours, or who work on a part-time basis (which is likely to include some disabled people, and those with carer responsibilities).

One good thing about having an exit interview on 22nd is that I e-mailed Sean (who I haven’t seen for ages) to see if he wanted to meet up, and he suggested we meet on 22nd … he’s just down the road from my (former) workplace, so this should work out pretty well.

Other boring stuff …

I’ve spent the past week with a sinus infection – actually, I think it’s been lurking since just after Christmas. During the day isn’t too bad (except I’m needing to drink rather a lot), but the first few hours of the morning are not good: sore throat, aching face, all the usual stuff. I rather think it’s just one of those post-viral things that takes ages ti clear up, but if no progress over the next week or so then it’s off to the doctor. And too cold to go out much, except sporadic trips to Tesco for salad stuff.

Heating is back to it’s usual semi-reliable state … but eating money like there’s no tomorrow. Hope the weather warms up a bit soon.

freezing cold, rss and stuff

The past couple of days have been freezing cold. I don’t know whether it’s a result of the annual safety check, or whether it’s just the boiler having one of its periodic fits, but it kept going out and needed to be re-set every couple of hours. This is not pleasant when the outside temperature has been consistently below zero (the ice on the fishpond hasn’t melted at all since last Monday). It’s been a real struggle to keep the flat up to a temperature where I can operate: I gave up around 2200h and retreated to bed with the laptop and read romantic stories on the net until the small hours!

Unless the boiler dramatically improves over the next 35 hours, a call to the service team on Monday is indicated – it’s covered by my annual service agreement, but past experience has been that no-one seems actually to be able to find out why it happens, or what the problem is, so engineers’ visits are cosmetic rather than effective.

RSSrss subscription image link

The slightly-more-constructive part of yesterday and today has been spent starting to get to grips with creating RSS feeds. I’m really not interested in learning to write xml stuff, but I do like to know in general terms how it works, and to check what the various blocks inside an RSS feed are doing. This is pretty typical of me – I work best at the “block diagram” level, where I like to see how the bits link together, and get a feel for what the options are, but I have little interest in the actual mechanics of what’s inside each block (other than to know that – if I *really* need to, or if something goes horribly wrong – I could put some effort in and quickly learn enough to hack my way to an acceptable result). I guess this is the old “Production Manager” streak in me coming out again! Anyway, there is now an RSS feed for this blog, and an RSS feed for my main site.

Jobs ‘n stuff

I’ve also spent some time looking at and thinking about possible jobs, once I leave Ealing on 9th March. Anything would come as a shock – I haven’t worked since September 2004, and 18 months without work will mean that I’m well out of practice! But – apart from the financial need – I really do feel that I would benefit from some kind of outside interest. Obviously, I’m extremely limited in what I’d be able to do – probably no more than 16 hours a week, and 12 would be better, split over around two or three days. Currently, the options seem to be either sessional (relief Duty Manager, or similar: there is a standing recruitment for the East Thames / East Potential charitable group, for locum/relief foyer workers, and currently an ad. is in for Relief Duty Managers at the Tricycle Theatre), or to apply for a Local Authority / Charitable type post on a job-share scheme. I may be limited on this as my retirement from a Local Authority post may prevent me applying for some posts. On the other hand, sessional posts are badly paid – under £10 an hour – and I’d need to do something that covered transport costs, costs of any food or other expenditure, tax, and any costs involved in knowing that I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything much the day after I’d been at work. Ho Hum! still, it’s getting to a time to make some decisions ..

the gasman cometh

Had a pretty disturbed night last night – one of those where I went to sleep at around 0200, but woke up after half an hour and didn’t get back to sleep until nearly 0600. Alarms went off just after 0700, as the gas service engineer was due “am” – which they define as between 0800 and 1200. As I’d tied myself to being in all morning, I’d also booked a Tesco delivery for the 1000-1200 timeslot.

Doorbell went at 0955 – Tesco. I don’t mind them being 5 mins early (although last time they were over 2 hours early, saying that they just happened to be in the area and was it convenient – if not they’d go away and come back later!). I carried the stuff in from the front door: it was one of the regular guys who is fussy about not being insured to enter customers premises so I didn’t bother to ask him, even. Rather slow, as I can only carry 2 bags – say max 3Kg – at a time. Once I’d got it all carried in, it struck me that it had in fact all been rather lightweight – by that time the delivery guy had dug out the sheet, and on checking the 4x6pack of Arthurs catfood had been out of stock, and they had for some reason not substituted. Mental note to fill in the substitutions box for this item next time! However, moglets will not go hungry: 4x6pack of assorted kitekat ordered as well.

I’d just started unpacking this lot when the gas engineer arrived for the annual safety check and service. I explained about the electronic ignition not always being reliable – he said it was probably dust and he’d clean it throughly as part of the service. He was here for nearly an hour, leaving just after 1100, by which time the shopping was put away (I was moving slowly, and kept having the engineer needing to be let outside to check the flue, ask how to operate the timeswitch, etc). For some reason, the shopping seemed a lot more effort than usual.

So I had a light brunch of half a large pork pie and some biccies, and felt exhausted and lay down, going straight to sleep for nearly an hour. When I woke up, the muscles in my back had done the “going into spasm” thing, and it took painkillers and effort before I was able to stand at all. Clearly, I must have lifted some of the shopping awkwardly, or too much at a time, or whatever. The weather (below freezing outside, all day) clearly doesn’t help stiffness, either.

So I’m proposing to spent the rest of the day playing web things – a bit more on, and possibly download some other browsers and install them on the 2k box, to test the site so far