Monday, 27 October 2008

Job Applications

I spent all last week preparing a cracker CV with which to impress potential employers, and the first job I apply for doesn’t want CV’s, as it has its own application system online…

I managed to connect my wibbly wobbly mobile Internet early this morning, and then clicked on the job description. The page slowly unfolded before my eyes – a veritable online assault course of an application form complete with clicky hoops for my Internet dongle to jump over. I narrowed my eyes at the dongle; it saucily winked its blue connection light at me. Healthy enough at the moment, it seemed to say, but you just wait until you want to submit that form ho-ho!

I told it sternly that I’d had enough of its shenanigans over the weekend (it took me simply hours to watch the whole series of Moondial on youtube) and set to with the application form. My word. I have never applied for a job that seemingly wanted me to sweat blood through my finger tips and pass out over the keyboard in order to get within sniffing distance of an interview. When I started that form, I thought the job sounded interesting and it was worth a punt. When I ended that form, I thought if they don’t call me back tomorrow first thing straight away with interview date / job offer then I shall demand their heads on a pike. Seven hours that form took me – that was a day’s work just even applying! It’s not like I’ve asked to be Prime Minister, or a brain surgeon. I’d understand if it took seven hours then, and possibly a multi-choice quiz. And of course the dongle loved me trying to press submit – oh the fun we had!

I’m sitting here at the moment with all my windows open, which is very strange for me, but I’m desperate for some fresh air. This is because the whole house smells of bad fish. Sigh. It really has been one of those days.

My mum said to me there was some smoked salmon fillets in the fridge if I wanted some for lunch. This is the same mum that once made me green bread sandwiches to take to school – the day blindly trusting youth went in the bin along with the sandwiches. So, ever wary, I went downstairs at lunchtime and poked at the salmon fillets – use by October 9th, said the label. Not a chance, I thought, but it was then I made my first mistake. I put them back in the fridge.

Later, mum was home and clattering around in the kitchen. I, upstairs with the door to my domain firmly shut, didn’t notice anything odd until I felt a slight rumble of tummy and decided to go downstairs to see if there was anything worth rumbling about in the kitchen. One step outside and the smell almost bowled me over. Mum, oblivious, had decided there was nothing wrong with fish smelling fishy and thought she’d cook the little blighters anyway. Cue teenage like explanations of why you shouldn’t cook old fish (‘Yuck! Urgh! Oh My God I’m going to die!’) as I whipped them out of the oven, into a bin-bag and away down the garden.

So now I am back, door once again closed, internet connection all perky from its daily bit of fun, and am off smoked salmon fillets for life. Apart from that, all is well. I might try and watch Moondial again…

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Curse that Meddling Credit Crunch

I’ve become a victim of something that sounds like a cheap healthy cereal – sadly been made redundant. Agh!

How can one person be so oblivious yet observant at the same time? Ever since I joined this company in July, there have been group emails doing the rounds seemingly every week. They have all been the sort that say ‘so and so is sad they didn’t get to say goodbye but they hope everyone except the boss will come for a last pint of ale at the Boozer’s Tavern next door’. I didn’t really pay it much attention, as people slunk out the office door with all their possessions (herbal tea bags, high heels, company pencil and pack of mint tic-tacs) in a cardboard box. It just didn’t occur to me that it would be redundancy that would get me out of the door; I thought the dodgy coffee would get me first.

But it appears cut backs are in order, and it has now reached my department. Last in (me) means first out (cunningly one day before my probation period ends), and sadly that is that!

Or be it so sad…? The people were nice although I hardly knew them, but the job itself, well, it was boring me to tears. The problem was, as you all know, I was in a rush to find anything back in July to get me out of the money pit, and I chose that job as it was easy to do, and they were quick to employ. Foolish me – it was so easy that my brain was melting. It wasn’t challenging in the slightest, and while it may have eventually had potential, it’s not the end of the world at all. At least I am back living with my mum and not paying any (major) bills!

So I am dusting down the CV and I am determined to find a job that is interesting. I also plan to use this time to crack on with the novel polishing and rewrites – in a weird way this has come at a great time for me, as I really needed more time on the book! The world moves in mysterious ways, is all I can say…

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Stepping up a gear

I have to tell you this quickly, before it goes past midnight and today will be forever lost in tomorrow. But ever since Wednesday I have been poking and prodding the novel, wondering if perhaps it needs a change here and there. And joy of all joys, I can see how to improve it, it's like all is now clear? Strange feeling, but I feel like I am moving to the next stage with it - thank gawd for chats with friends, eh?!

So I have been using lunchtimes at work to sit in a little coffee shop around the corner, far from the milling tourists, and scribbling ideas down in my note pad. It's hard to leave your desk, sprint out of the office, buy something that warrents you sitting in the shop and then settle, open your pad and think right - go! But it has to be done - windows of opportunity have to be opened! Otherwise they remain shut, which is a bit hot and stuffy, especially when you live in the Sahara (aka my mum's house).

I have also been putting tonight to good use by cracking on with the new changes. I love them! I don't want to go to sleep! I think for sure this will be a good thing. The only problem is a lot now needs to change - whereas before this was a skinny novel that needed a few more pies, now I am stuffing in the steak and onions. Ye God, my analogies need work.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Worries that Wait behind the Door

And so they’re back! From out of space! I just walked in to find them here with that panicky look upon their face! I should have changed my stupid story; I should have thrown away the pen, if I’d known all along I’d start worrying about it again!

I met up with good friend I last night who hasn’t read my story, as I wanted to pitch it to her and see what parts of it hook her in. It was an interesting experiment, firstly for me in talking about it and thinking of what sounded the most captivating (and then wondering if the bits I was disregarding needed to be in the novel at all), as well as seeing her instantly like the sound of one of my main characters.

I have had such a good response with him with everyone that has read this (and there’s not many – a few friends basically), the character is fun, interesting and you care about him – my pal last night was asking me all sorts of questions about him, some of which I guess I hadn’t pondered, as perhaps my attention was more on the main female character. This led me to wonder whether I should increase his role slightly, as god-dam it, he is a very fun character to write, which is not to say the female character isn’t, but perhaps he is just as important as her, in a way.

I think it’s because I use him as a foil for the female character, they are complete contrasts. The female character is based in reality and her situations are very real human ones, hence research into different historical decades, and being careful with details. But he – well, he is more free as he is not confined to reality so I can just play with him, and I guess that shines through the pages.

So now I am all worried again, as I feel I should capitalise more on him and perhaps change a few things… oh it’s a long slog this, as anyone else writing a book out there will no doubt know!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Autumn Gold at Leeds Castle

Regardless of how blustery the weather is, I always like to celebrate my favourite time of year with some sort of show, be it a harvest, craft fair, or a chestnut gathering walk in the countryside. Last year was the inspiring ‘Dig for Victory’ in St James Park, and this year was the Autumn Gold Flower Festival at Leeds Castle.

Leeds Castle is not in Leeds, a fact that everyone will clamour to be the first to quiz you upon. ‘Going to Leeds Castle – do you know where it is then, eh? Eh?’ is the question asked as you soon as you mention your visit, and if you reply confidently ‘Kent’ then watch as faces drop slightly. I bet the real Leeds is a bit disappointed that the castle is not in their city – they should get their own back by having a Kent Castle. I would, if I was in charge of Leeds.

It was once the Saxon Manor of Esledes, which probably explains how it became to known as ‘Leeds’ and has had many a portly royal figure stride around its sumptuous grounds, one of them no doubt wondering how to dispose of the current wife at his side. But its last owner, Lady Baillie, very kindly bequeathed the castle to the nation in 1974, and it’s been ours to play in ever since.

The Autumn Gold show brought the colours of harvest into the castle itself, with each grand room further enhanced by creative flower, fruit and vegetable displays. We filed past pumpkins, admired apples, and ogled onions, and then it was time to find the restaurant, as for some reason we were all suddenly really hungry…

We got to the restaurant before the main rush, and even then it was packed, with shivering folk ordering soup. As soon as we were seated I became one of them, as huge cold gusts of wind hugged my neck every time the door was opened and peckish people ventured inside. 'Soup please!' I said, refusing to relinquish my scarf and coat, as the door banged open and shut, letting in people driven demented with hunger from viewing artistic displays of food all day.

‘Four soups’ announced our waiter, sloshing one bowl down in front of J’s mum, leaving the rest of us wondering exactly where the other soups anounced were, as it was blatantly 'one' soup on the table (and napkin). But the rest arrived shortly afterwards, and were all very nice - not that I stuck my spoon in all four to tell you that, though.

After dinner we viewed the world’s oddest museum – the ‘Dog Collar Museum’. I did think perhaps it was just a quirky name until I got inside, but no, it was just dog collars, and as fascinating as they are, I do think an museum for them is stretching interest slightly.

This picture was my favourite display in the castle - a dress made out of flowers and fruit. Beats dog collars... still, we left that room quickly behind us and decided it was 'time for outside' - as the rain stopped squalling and the sun peeked out briefly behind a cloud, obviously not enjoying the view, as back it went again for the rest of the day. Stumping along thinking fond thoughts of fleece, which is where my thoughts tend to lead me in cold weather, we were in time for the birds of prey display. But the best was yet to come...

Leeds Castle has a maze!

I love mazes, and this one was very well done indeed - it was very hard to work out the way to the middle. J immediantly scooted off in front, I bolted the opposite way, and poor J's mum and aunt were instantly lost. And so was I, to be honest, glaring down at a puddle that I was sure I had seen before (I had, three times). Oh yes, this was a maze to be reckoned with.

I made it to the middle first, only because I heard someone ahead of me say 'aha!' in a very knowing way, and quickly followed them. I then had the pleasure of standing up high on a mound and trying to direct J and his mum and aunt, who by now had bumped into eachother again. 'Which way?' asked J, and I called 'by that hedge!' which probably wasn't the best directions to give in a maze come to think about it...

Still, we got out in time for tea, which I am very happy to report.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

It’s the Internet, Jim, but not as I knew it

Since I might not be back at my mum’s for long, I decided I didn’t want to sign up for broadband, mainly because of the bother of installing and running cables everywhere that mum can eye suspiciously. So I have gone for a ‘3’ mobile pay-as-you-go internet dongle - and look! Here I am at home, online, and posting to my blog – surely all is well!


I’m not altogether sure me and my new little dongle buddy are going to get along. It says my connection is HSDPA, which stands for How Slow Does Piddly Attachment go, or something… although to be fair I have been insisting it downloaded the 600 or so emails I had stacked up in the ether waiting for my Inbox to become active again. I also expect it to be able to handle youtube, posting pictures, opening more than two web pages at once, and not choking if I have outlook and photoshop open at the same time. So far my expectations are very high, and the reality is everything is rather s-l-o-w. And since my standard response to slow websites is to click refresh repeatedly, I can see me and the dongle are shortly going to be having words.

But at least for now I can read your blogs, and catch up a little with the outside world without feeling furtive at work. So I’m back, but not at full throttle just yet. Still, its nice to be home!