Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Off with their heads...

I am typing this at work because at present I do not have much to do and I feel the need to write something or my head might explode. All around me people are losing theirs and blaming it on everyone else. The atmosphere here is awful, I just want to go home and sink a bottle of white wine. I am one of the lucky ones, my contract has been renewed for another 6 months but I feel as if I am knitting by the guillotine. Those that have not been so lucky are huddling in corners or sneaking out for secret meetings, some are in tears, some angry, some bitter, some silent, some verbal in their fear and disgust at the way things have been managed.

I just want to hug them all and tell them it will be OK, but I know that for some of them it won't be. There are no jobs out there! Some have families, some are nearing retirement age, one person has a profound hearing disability. I am trying to be supportive and positive but I can't joke with my other colleagues, it is inappropriate and so the tension is almost unbearable. Why not just pay them their redundancy and let them go. It would be fairer for all. They are having to come in day after day knowing that the shape of the company is changing and there are new jobs being created for money makers. I just don't want to be here and to be truthful if I didn't have to work I would leave. I don't trust the integrity of the management anymore in fact it is hard to believe anything we are being told.

Well that has got that off my chest, I'll just have to keep my head down and get through the next month without screaming. At least I still have my head - for the moment .....

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A birthday lunch ...

On Saturday it was my niece Becky's birthday. I, another niece and Becky decided to have lunch at a little restaurant near the pavilion in Brighton. It had been recommended by a friend of Becky's and from the outside it looked inviting. Inside the d├ęcor was interesting, huge blown up photos of Paris and Venice and London adorned the walls and large artificial fig trees grew out of the tables and were sprinkled with fairy lights, all very attractive. On a bench by the entrance sat a full size puppet of an elderly lady which was amusing and quirky.

We found a table and a waitress, (we'll call her Dizzy) who could hardly speak English, attempted to take our order. We asked her what the ‘specials’ that day were and I have no idea what she answered. So we ordered coffees while Becky went to look at the 'specials' board. This was hardly any clearer to understand and so we beckoned over the young waiter (we'll call him Smiler) who, although he spoke perfect English, informed us it was only his second day in the job. Dizzy brought the coffees. We had previously asked her to wait for Becky's order while she was looking at the 'specials' board and she said she would come back - but she never did.
So, we beckoned over Smiler again and ordered a Cappuccino for Becky. He had by then found out what the 'Specials' were and we put in our order. Fish and Chips, Moulles and Chips and for my other niece who is on a strange diet white bait and soup of the day (we asked for these to come all together) As it was Becky’s birthday we gave out her presents and cards and were laughing and clowning around in a jolly birthday kind of way when we noticed (or sensed perhaps) a strange presence, who although he was dressed as a waiter didn't seem to be doing much waiting, unless you count waiting around and occasionally wiping dishes with a white cloth. He had a strange hunched stance and kept nodding his head in a peculiar way at customers and grinning in a ghoulish fashion. (We’ll call him Igor)

We had by then been there about half an hour and were beginning to feel hungry. In the far corner of the room was a service bar where 2 young men (who looked about 12) were plating up food onto which they seemed to be sprinkling copious amounts of salad dressing. We kept looking over expectantly hoping to see our order appear. After 3/4 hour we asked Smiler if our food would be long having noticed numerous orders of Paninis and such like being served to people who had arrived a long time after us. He said he would enquire. Five minutes later he came back and informed us that there were problems in the kitchen because the Chef had walked out that morning but we would be served as soon as possible.

We waited a further fifteen minutes and I called over Smiler again, he squatted down beside us at the table and apologised profusely about the delay. I said to Becky shall we have some wine. She agreed and Smiler returned with two very large glasses of white wine which he said were on the house because of the wait. We drank the wine which was very good and waited. All this time Igor continued nodding and grinning and wiping and unnerving the customers.

Just then a sinister looking man entered the restaurant; he was very tall and very fat and wearing a floor length leather jacket. He walked up to the service bar and spoke to the two twelve year-olds (who were still sprinkling) He then went round the back of the bar and returned out front 5 minutes later sporting a chef's hat.
Oh well, we thought, he might look strange but at last a chef had arrived, maybe we would soon be served. After a further 20 minutes I saw some Moulles and a plate of something golden brown appear on the service bar, hooray I thought, our food at last! But alas no, the food was taken and served by Igor to the table just in front of ours, they had only been waiting about half an hour, the food into which they, with no conscience whatsoever, proceeded to tuck in.

We were all feeling slightly hysterical by now not to mention drunk from wine on an empty stomach. I called over Smiler again and he squatted down next to the table again and apologised again and told us that they had just served our food to the wrong table (which we had already guessed) and what was more the soup that was on when we arrived was now off!!

It was just about then that I felt as though we had wandered into an Alan Bennet play or that we were part of Victoria Wood's 'Two Soups' sketch.

We were now giggling hysterically when Smiler returned and I shared my thoughts with him, he smiled and told us covertly that the man with the Leather Jacket had just walked in off the street with his CV and they had asked him to start immediately. Due to shock we giggled even louder (if somewhat hollowly). I asked Smiler if he was going to come back the next day. He smiled and said probably not.

Poor lad kept smiling attentively and apologising and I suggested that perhaps we ought to just leave. He said he quite understood if we did but he would really like it if we stayed. Because we had waited so long it was hardly worth going somewhere else and there was also a kind of morbid fascination with the whole situation.
The table in front of us (who had eaten our order) were now complaining about the food, this rankled with me and I thought “you've eaten our bloody food so shut up bloody complaining!”

In desperation I called over Igor, who stopped wiping for a moment and nodded in response, he then sloped over and hovered near me, his uneven teeth exposed in a ghastly grin. I ordered more wine. Informing him, nervously, that it was on the house!

The wine arrived and to our amazement so did Kim’s Whitebait, great we thought our’s would follow shortly but alas no. We watched Kim with drooling mouths, eat her Whitebait, and by then Becky and I were laughing almost insanely.

Kim had had to change her order to chips instead of the soup (which was on but was now off) to arrive at the same time as the whitebait, needless to say they didn’t arrive. Another table, who had also obviously ordered something more complicated than Panini’s, were looking pretty fed up too. Igor continued to nod his bald head and grin and wipe, Dizzy continued to talk incomprehensibly to customers and wander about in a daze and Smiler continued to smile apologetically, but still didn’t bring our order.

The irony was that Becky had asked to meet us early as she was going out that night and her friends were all coming round before hand for drinks and nibbles and she didn't want to spoil her appetite for the lovely nibbles by having lunch too late!
Up until then we had been, if somewhat hysterical, in pretty good spirits, our interchanges with Smiler had been good humoured because we prided ourselves ,as a family, to always see the funny side of things (or maybe because we were drunk). But then, finally our food arrived.

It was horrible, the chips were tasteless and greasy, the fish overdone and the sauce for the moulles had no flavour whatsoever. We ate in silence having finally run out of laughter. We had walked in there at 1pm and the time was now 3.45pm. We ate quickly because we were starving, asked for the bill, paid half of it, left very honest and brutal comments on the feedback card, gave Smiler a big tip and advised him to find another job and left the restaurant. It was 4pm.

I only wish that I had stuck a notice on the old lady puppet saying “I WAS A YOUNG WOMAN WHEN I ARRIVED AND I AM STILL WAITING TO BE SERVED!

Later that evening Becky texted me to say she kept giggling throughout the day about Igor and co and hadn't laughed so much in ages. She had had a great birthday!

I went past the restaurant the next day and there was a blackboard outside saying “New Chef!!” I looked in the window and Smiler was still there. Still smiling.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Funding for Older People's Charities

It has been a long time since I last posted but I have been busy busy busy. I am proud to be still working for a charity for older pople. But there is sad news I'm afraid. There are several services we have not been able to get funding for. Those include toe nail cutting, befriending and advocacy. As a result we are going to have to charge for these services or lose them altogether which would be a great loss to older people in the community. Also the latter would mean, almost certainly, redundancies for important and valuable members of staff.

For many house-bound older people, receiving a 'befriender' into their homes is the only person that they see from one month to another. A friendly face to chat to them, make them a cup of tea, listen to their worries. It is vital to their well being. Also the Advocacy Service offers them a voice when they have no voice, a person they can trust, who will stand up for them and confront people they do not have the strength or confidence to confront. To help them with form filling, help them to understand difficult documents, to protect them from bogus people or neighbours who might take advantage of them. It will be a sad loss indeed. How can we ask these people to pay for this service when they often are already in debt or confusion and in need of financial help and advice?

Fund raising is the possible answer, but on an enormous scale. The local authorities, because of the cuts, cannot fund these services anymore, as a result, this is a sad day for the older members of our society.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

And so to work ...

It is really hard to believe but I have been offered a full-time paid job!!!!

After years of depression, anxiety, lack of confidence I finally managed to pull off two interviews in two weeks, the first I came a close second, apparently, and the second I was offered the job. It is nothing short of a miracle. Not well paid but at last I will be solvent again. A fully paid up member of society.

I don't say it is not going to be hard but I will do my best and hope in time I will pick up the basics. Anyway it is cause for celebration.

So cheers everyone xx

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Women's Refuge Chief Hands Back OBE


So the vulnerable are to be hit again, this time not by a husband or lover but by the 'Big Society' I wonder how you would feel Cameron if you had watched your father beat your mother to a pulp?

If you have then you should be ashamed. If you haven't then you should still be ashamed.

Take the time to read the comments attached to this link, some of them take my breath away.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The worse and the best of weeks

Those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning will know my story. Last week began a whole new chapter. The man, that I was escaping from when I entered the Refuge, has been charged with rape and his poor victim tragically died. The cause of her death is not yet known. Further tests are being carried out. He was originally arrested for her murder but has not been charged. Her injuries were found to be as a result of being raped. This poor woman was a mother of three children and it is believed she may have met him on the internet. I am in shock and can't believe that I ever had anything to do with such a monster. It makes me feel unclean and tarnished for life. But I am being self pitying and what I am really is very lucky. My heart goes out to this poor women's children because he has ruined their lives too. I hope he goes away for a very very long time.

The good news is that I have applied for two full time jobs. Both are local, one is at the office where I do voluntary work. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me and I will keep you posted. I haven't worked for such a long time, I can't remember what it feels like to have a wage coming in.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Art-is-an enigma

Since leaving the Women's Refuge I have been steadily painting. I have even sold a couple. I would very much like to sell more (if they are good enough) but it is difficult when one has limited income to a) frame them and b) find an outlet.

I have received praise from friends and acquaintances but art is very personal and subjective. I am self taught and therefore I have had no training in technique, as a result, my paintings would be considered 'Naive' or 'Primitive' and as such I have no idea of how to price them.

I did have an outlet at a local cafe, but there has been a change of management and art is no longer something they wish to display on the walls. I am not particularly knowledgeable about creating my own Web Site, I have dabbled but got confused, so I gave up.

If anyone who is reading this can be of some help I would appreciate a little advice.