Monday, 19 November 2012

I'd Rather Have a Piece of Toast


I knew I hadn't blogged for a while, yet I was aghast to load up Blogger just now to find the last time I had scribbled some utter nonsense was almost two months ago. TWO MONTHS! Time to rectify that, I think. I haven't blogged for two months(!) because since my last blog my life has gone a bit mental, and that's not even taking into account the rather lengthy column Nigel Hastilow penned about me in The Shropshire Star a few weeks ago. Thanks for taking my constructive criticism on board, Nige. So what on Earth has been happening? I'm not too sure where to begin, so I'm just going to start typing and hope for the best.

A few weeks ago I was sitting here at my computer when something caught my eye out of the window. It was a cat, wandering around our garden. That wasn't unusual, as Tom Jones might say - our neighbours either side of us have a few cats, and they are always jumping into our garden and being chased by our dog. But I hadn't seen this cat before, and it was loitering by the gate at the back of our garden, which leads out into a neglected field covered in brambles and nettles. I didn't think too much of it, until the next day I saw it out there again. So I went to investigate, and found a gorgeous tortoiseshell who was worryingly thin and had no collar. She wasn't going away, so we put up a bed for her in our greenhouse and fed her whilst we asked around the neighbourhood whether they knew where she had come from. Nobody knew, so we took her down to the vets, where they confirmed that she wasn't chipped...but she was pregnant.

It was a beautiful cat, but with a dog already in the house we couldn't keep her, and she deserved to have her kittens in peace. So after phoning several cat shelter places, all of which were full, apparently, we decided to take the vets advice and "leave her to it. Cats are very resourceful". Meanwhile, our next door neighbours were in the process of moving, hiring a skip to chuck all their rubbish in before they left (can you see where this is going?) The cat disappeared for a few days, and when I next saw her her "saddlebags" had gone, and she was sitting on the fence in our front garden, peering into the skip (which was full of rubbish) before diving down into it. Again, I didn't think too much of that, until my mother saw her doing the same thing. Either the cat was very hungry, and was scavenging, or...but surely not?

Alas, it was true. The cat had gone off and had her kittens in the bottom of a skip, which was filled to the brim with sodden junk thanks to the insane rainfall we'd been having at the time. Any of you ever knocked on someone's door and asked them if you can root through their rubbish? If you haven't - trust me, you feel wonderfully awkward doing so. They probably thought we had gone bonkers, as we stood on their driveway in the drizzle rooting through their trash. We knew what we were looking for, but we didn't find it. The skip went the next day. It wasn't a nice experience, but the cat didn't seem bothered at all. Maybe they were already dead. The cat soon became the newest member of our family, I'm pleased to say - our fears about the dog failing to materialise after the cat whacked him one and then stood her ground after he tried to chase her. They're best friends now.

(God, this is boring. When is he going to talk about interesting stuff and shut up about cats?)

Finally graduating from university was a huge weight off my shoulders, but my mental health still wasn't improving. It turns out that my tactic of "try to ignore it and hope that one day you'll wake up and it'll be gone" wasn't the best, so I needed to re-think things. Against my masculine urges, I decided I needed to go to the doctor. I've had some horrific experiences down at my local health centre, but the doctor I landed with this time was honest, clear, and actually bothered to listen to me, which some of the dickheads down there don't. I'd been on tablets before, but I hadn't really got on with them and I had given up on them far too readily. The doctor listened to my concerns, prescribed me the same medication but in a lower dosage than before and then told me to stop being a knob and actually take them. I've been taking them for a month now and - touch wood - they're working brilliantly. I feel much more content with 10mg than I did 20mg. They're not miracle pills - I'm not suddenly "cured", and it's still a battle sometimes, but I'm fighting.

Away from cats and happy pills, the main reason I've not had time to blog is because I've started doing a course down at my local college. Like the idiot I am, when my advisor down at the Job Centre asked me if I wanted to do a six week SAGE Accountancy course, I said I wouldn't mind. The next thing I knew, I was booked onto their next one. True to form for the Job Centre, their communication was absolutely bollocks. I was told the start date for my course, that it was six weeks long, and....that was it. So on the Monday morning I walked down to my local college for 9am, not knowing: if I needed to be there for 9am or later, what hours I was doing, who I was with, who was taking the course, what room I was in, whether the course was just SAGE or with other stuff included. What a mess.

After eventually finding out what room I was in, I walked in with a very pleasant but also very confused German lady called Wera, and we sat down at a table with ten others. At the other end of the table there was a cute brunette, looking a bit nervous and shy. "She's pretty", I thought, but I didn't get the chance to talk to her until the following day, when our employability teacher (as part of our course, we have to do "employability skills". The Job Centre didn't tell me about that, naturally) put us in a group together. With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, I engineered it so that I could sit next to her, and I tried to make conversation and make her laugh. At the end of the day, we swapped numbers, a process made a little harder than it should have been by me taking half an hour to pluck up the courage to do so. I'm glad I did, however. Things have snowballed a little since then, but we're taking it slowly. I dunno about her but I'm a happy bunny right now anyway.

(That doesn't make any sense - why did they exchange phone numbers when they're doing a college course together and see each other every day?)

Because, my irritating little friend, after two days of the college course I thought I was done with it all. I had an interview for a position at the university, one which I felt I wanted to do and one which I felt confident I could get. The position was to be part of a team, conducting a survey on behalf of the university. Every uni has to do this survey, apparently - getting in contact with graduates and finding out what they're up to now they've left education and (hopefully) in the workplace. Drawing up a survey, sending it out, getting the forms back in and inputting the data onto a computer system for decent money and the chance to work at the university? I could do that! I wanted to do that!

So the interview was going well until the catches began to appear. Catch 1 - we had to hit a target of 80% of forms returned. Catch 2 - the overwhelming majority of people can't be bothered, don't want to do it, so don't do it. Catch 3 - it'd be my job to phone up these people, and go through the form with them on the phone. Catch 4 - there'd be roughly 3,000 of these people. Catch 5 - some people, unhappy with the fact that they're unemployed, get emotional/upset on the phone. Catch 6 - some people, unhappy with the fact I've phoned them up, get arsey on the phone. Catch 7 - the university would be setting up a "call centre" for us to do this job. It was the second that the words "call centre" were uttered that I mentally bailed out on the position. I still tried my best at the test they gave us, still tried to give a good interview, but I walked out of the university a bit despondent. This wasn't what I thought it was. This wasn't what I wanted to do.

I had a tough decision to make. I was unemployed after all, and it was decent money. I was secretly hoping they'd turn me down, but no, there was the email - they had offered me a graduate internship. So the choice was a stark one - a job and money, but a job I had lost interest in before I had even started, OR no job and no money but the chance to complete a £600 course (which I was getting for free via the Job Centre), which will look good on my CV, which might open some doors and which I could do alongside a girl I fancied like crazy and wanted to get to know a bit more.

What would you do?

I finish the course next week, and whilst I'm not assured of passing the exam, I feel confident that I can iron out the little problems I'm having with SAGE and get it licked. Then it's back to the daily grind - applying for jobs, not hearing anything back, applying for jobs, not hearing anything back....

So that's roughly why I haven't blogged for a while.

The other day I was sitting on a train when a weird sensation came over me. I realised - for the first time in 7 years - that I was happy. My soul felt....happy. It was a nice feeling. Life isn't perfect - never is, is it? - but it's getting better. Slowly. And that's all I can ask for.

Until next time knuckleheads!

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