I Think I Am The Biggest Hazard!

I was back late after what turned out to be a sixteen hour work day on Friday and I finally made it to sleep at two o’clock in the morning. Then my alarm went off at four o’clock in the morning. I did something very risky. I pressed SNOOZE!

An hour later my phone was ringing and ringing. My friends were outside in their car. Very kindly they waited ten minutes while I showered and threw some clothes on.

IMG_20190330_180225

I am working all day as a volunteer. But with so little sleep…I think it is going to be a very long day. Where is the canteen? I need a coffee pleeeeeeeeeease!

I am just going to take it slowly and try not to cause any injury to myself of anyone else!

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Skipping In My Comfy Shoes

On Saturday, I worked a long day…and it was busy, very very busy! Before we unlocked the doors to customers, I arrived half an hour early so I could do some cleaning before we were busy. Boy did it get busy!

I was wearing a really comfortable pair of shoes (the day before I wore the wrong shoes and my feet were aching). I am so glad I wore those comfy shoes because Saturday was so intense. I kept on thinking about how wearing comfy shoes can make all the difference to your day at work.

Anyway…I only started this post to tell you about the ten minutes I was walking down to work early in the morning. I felt so excited about life, and Goldfinch, and my trip to Australia. It was a marvellous feeling. And I started to sing. Well, at first I was humming, because it was rather early in the morning and I was walking past residential houses. But when I was walking on the main road away from the houses, I started singing at the top of my voice with a happy heart a song that always makes me feel like skipping.

“LET’S GO FLY A KITE”

I saw the film “Saving Mr Banks” some time in the past year. It was very interesting. I had no idea of the story behind the author of Mary Poppins. I think this was my favourite part of the movie:

I Don’t Want You To Work All Day

The theme Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, has chosen for this week’s SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY is Occupation.

I had two big songs in mind – naturally Dolly Parton and Rolls Royce. I was torn between them but Dolly was winning. I am finding that now I have extra notice of the theme, I start changing my mind over which song to feature. So the song I have gone with is totally different than my first choices and it loosely fits in with the theme.

I always guessed this song is about a woman who does not want her man to have to work, she is happy to make a fuss of him. Maybe I misunderstood it, but it seemed to be a woman singing she is more than happy to do all the chores around the house and make love. She doesn’t want her man to have to do any work around the house. (I am hoping he is doing some work and not living off her wages!) When I first heard this song as a teenager, I was a bit shocked by it. Now, after singing it at karaoke nights a few times, it has grown on me. And listening today it today just makes me laugh. Which is good because I need to things that cheer me up after this week.

Although I think work is a fine thing – and nobody should be work-shy – I do totally grasp the sentiment of wanting to spoil the man I am in love with. I loved cooking and baking for Goldfinch. He did not ask me to do any of that. But it was something I loved doing.

Did I ever tell you about the time he came to see me on the way back from a work-trip overseas? He let me put his clothes through the washing machine and tumble dryer. And he let me iron his shirts, only I went on to iron everything, his underwear and his handkerchiefs! I could not help myself!

I would happily spoil him always!

I don’t want you to be no slave
I don’t want you to work all day
But I want you to be true
And I just wanna make love to you

Love to you, ooohooo
Love to you

All I want to do is wash your clothes
I don’t want to keep you indoors
There is nothing for you to do
But keep me making love to you

Love to you, ooohooo
Love to you

And I can tell by the way you walk that walk
And I can hear by the way you talk that talk
And I can know by the way you treat your girl
That I could give you all the loving in the whole wide world

All I want you to do is to bake your bread
Just to make sure that you’re well fed
I don’t want you sad and blue
And I just wanna make love to you

Love to you, ooohooo
Love to you, oooh

And I can tell by the way you walk that walk
And I can hear by the way you talk that talk
And I can know by the way you treat your girl
That I could give you all the loving in the whole wide world

Oh, all I wanna do, all I wanna do is cook your bread
Just to make sure that you’re well fed
I don’t want you sad and blue
And I just wanna make love to you

Love to you, ooohooo
Real love to you, ooohooo
Love to you, ooohooo

Songwriter – Willie Dixon

 

We Cannot Control The Movements Of Storm Clouds

Another post based on an e-mail I sent to Stuart during my job in Notting Hill:

Last night there must have been a terrific storm performing.  I heard rain hammering down above my rooms and grand cracks and crashes of thunderous fury.  I was so exhausted after the long day of house-keeping that I fell asleep very easily and slept the night through like a baby.

I truly thought I was going to have an easy morning today after all the work I did yesterday.  At 5.30am I was sitting up in bed, sipping coffee and thinking I would give myself “just another minute” before I jumped in the shower…when suddenly the door to my bedsit started to open gradually.  A little face appeared…it was one of the little children who live upstairs.

The children know they are not allowed to walk into my room without knocking.  We are all trying to strongly discourage them from being interested in my little abode at all.  Their father has forbidden them and he has told me I must tell them off if they go into my room.  I am not very good at shouting at children.  I respect that in some cases a parent might have to shout at their children in an effort to make them realize what they are doing is dangerous, or foolish, or wrong.  I have never been a parent and I don’t know how to shout at a child.  I try to reason with them.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.  I don’t think I am winning with this subject.  The youngest hates being told off, he hates me trying to reason with him.  He will run away.  The only way I can catch his attention is by speaking some Mandarin Chinese to him.  He is fascinated by this.  He has only just turned five, but he is eager for me to teach him as many Chinese expressions as possible.

I often find their toys under my bed or in my bath tub.  The lodger thinks it’s funny to encourage the children to play little tricks on me. (Afterall, when I clean their rooms I use their toys to create comic scenes…at the moment Darth Vadar is reading a copy of Vogue I found lying around and one of the trolls is sitting in a toy car with a little teddy in front of the car on his back, as if he has been run over.) I found an item from my underwear drawer on one of their teddies about a week ago. I understand their curiosity, but we must instil in them a realization that my rooms are off-limits. Young children rifling through your underwear drawer is so annoying!

Understandably, I was anxious as to what he was doing walking into my bedroom.  I was about to tell him off sternly, when he whispered with an urgent tone that there was a large pool of water outside of my door.

I jumped out of bed because I realized the little munchkin was unlikely to risk getting in trouble like this if there was no truth to what he said.  He was serious. Just up the steps from my room, sure enough was a large pool of water. I asked him to go and wake his father and tell him what had happened. So, the morning turned out to be quite different to the one scheduled.  Every resident in the building has now seen each other in our nightwear.  A roofer came…well, you can imagine how the day went hey?  We all just got on with it and now peace and order are restored, and the house is still gleaming as I managed to do all the tidying up and cleaning as well as dealing with the leak / flood situation.  Another six washes have been through the machine.  The normal clothes washing and all the towels we used this morning.

Aaaah…so this leads to yet another proverb for today:

We cannot control the movements of storm clouds hey!

Storm Clouds

I really feel I need to lay my head on a pillow and have a little nap – starting work in my pyjamas is not ideal is it!  I am going to head out to see some friends.  We have planned to have a drink at a bar near the river.  It will be lovely sitting outside in the sunshine enjoying the cool evening breeze.

Aaaaaah!  I have to say on sunny days like this, England is gorgeous.  It is just the rest of the year when skies are grey, and we are blown about with gusty wind and always slightly damp because the rain seems to come at you from all directions.  We have to make the most of this sublime sunshine, because we have a problem that as yet we have never learnt to overcome.

We cannot control the movements of storm clouds.

We Cannot Control The Movements of Kamikaze Squirrels

This was another e-mail to Stuart that I adapted into a post. But I wrote it while working for the family in Notting Hill that I was living with and working for:

Have you ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong?  You seem to have worked hard all day and accomplished precious little.  Despite the best made plans, your efforts are thwarted and your hard work is sabotaged even by the most unlikely of candidates.  “Looks innocent enough”, you might think!  Do not be taken in by the cute fluffy outer-shell.  This little one has made himself public enemy number one.

Kamakaze Squirrel

When I attended the interview for my current post, I was told that there were three or hour hours of work to do each day, and occasional child-minding.  They said “occasionally” they might need to ask me to do a “little overtime” and asked me to be flexible as work might vary from day to day.  They asked me to start at 8am.  But I soon realized that they had absolutely no idea of the time it took to complete the tasks they asked for each day. I have actually worked a few ten hours days so far, but they don’t seem to realize how much time the tasks they are giving me are taking. I thought that I was managing to get closer to completing my work within the suggested time frame the first two days this week. It seemed that I was roughly managing 7.30am-2pm – and then a lunch break followed by an hour of ironing.  It is essential to escape before every one comes home and wreaks havoc on the house!

But today everything has gone out of the window.  I still have three loads of washing drying outside, the big towels are on the tumble drier and a dark wash in the washing machine.  I am hoping to wash the lodger’s linen today and hang it outside while there is still some sunshine and then I really need to do a rag wash – I have a huge bag of used micro-fibre and buffing cloths that I need to put through the washing machine, because I am running out of cleaning cloths.

Nevermind!  It is just going to have to be one of those days.

I keep analysing my schedule and trying to work out where I can shave time off my tasks. I am a woman! I should be able to multi-task more effectively! I have sort of a game-plan. I try to have all of the ironing finished by the evening and everything is stacked neatly ready to be delivered first thing in the morning. For example, I might grab one stack and run up stairs to the top floor and deliver and at the same time make the beds and tidy/wipe the bathroom. I grab the laundry bag which seems to be always full and grab the bin liner and go down to the bedroom below. I make the bed, tidy/wipe the bathroom and grab the laundry and the bin liner and head downstairs to the utility room to start off the washing. Then I can head back up and ideally the family will be on their way out so that I can start cleaning up the kitchen.  After all of that I can start the thorough clean of a the entire floor of the house.  Five floors of the house, one floor each day.  Now in principle that sounds straightforward doesn’t it?

But life is unpredictable is it not!!!  Proverb for the day:

We cannot control the movements of kamikaze squirrels.

This morning the delay was as follows.  The nanny leaves the boys clothes out each evening so that everything is ready for the following morning.

However, today Dad was very concerned about his youngest, “It is so hot today the little one will be too warm in a long-sleeved school shirt, so could you find a short-sleeved school T-shirt for one of the boys?”  Well, I ran from the ground floor up to the second floor.  No other T-shirts at all on his room.  I run back down to the ground floor to deliver the message that he does not have any other shirts in his room.  I was asked to go back up to the second floor to check if there were any in his brother’s room?  I pointed out that if his brother has short-sleeved t-shirts they were unlikely to fit the little one?  Four years age gap between the boys. They wanted to give it a try.  So, I ran up to the second floor again.  His brother had three T-shirts but they are all long-sleeved.  I ran back downstairs to tell them.  They asked me  if there were any shirts anywhere else? Well, I guessed the other shirts must be in the laundry, even though I washed everything in all the laundry baskets and ironed everything I washed yesterday (three loads yesterday).  I ran downstairs to check.  There were five dirty school T-shirts in the laundry baskets.  Why had the two boys been through five school shirts in just one day? – I have no idea.  There were also three unlabelled T-shirts which were clean, but all  long-sleeved.

By now I had wasted 20 minutes running up and down stairs. The poor little one still had to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt for school.  Nothing has been accomplished, except I could possibly claim I have already burnt off all of the calories from my breakfast.

I headed back up to the third floor to start bed-making.  Only I heard my name being called.  I ran back down to the ground floor. They wanted to tell me that they were going to keep the front windows open to create a through draft.  Great idea!  I ran back upstairs.  Then I heard my name again.  The shopping had arrived.  Somehow, it has suddenly become my job to deal with the shopping, even though they say they do it themselves.  This is the fifth week in a row I have done it.  I am pretty quick at organizing shopping – it is one of “my things”. That’s fine, if they need me to do it, I will do it. So, I unpacked the shopping.  Only, it wouldn’t all fit in the fridge, so I had to carry a lot downstairs to the spare fridge in the utility room.

I was looking at my watch and realizing that it was over 50 minutes since I started work. I still had not made my first bed yet.  I headed back up to the upper floors. I made the beds, I wiped bathrooms and brought the laundry and the rubbish down.  I put on the first wash I headed up to the kitchen.  I was a whole hour behind schedule by now.  I would like to have cleared the breakfast and wiped the sides and emptied the rubbish already – but suddenly the nanny arrived.  Five minutes later, the lady of the house came home from yoga.  Yoga just happens to be the same time as the morning school run.  So while the rest of us are trying to bribe the children to put their uniforms on, finish their breakfast and make their was to school…she is meditating and stretching.

I was now working around them while they sipped coffee and discussed the arrangements planned for the day.  They are both super lovely and I had a little chatter with them both.  But there is always a little “oh could you just do this or just do that” to slow me down and it normally involves running up and down stairs in the process.  I decided there is no way I could just wait around to be able to do the kitchen properly, I would have to do that after they had gone.  Instead, I decided to start with the cleaning upstairs…

I was cleaning the children’s rooms today.  Of course, before I can really start cleaning, there is always a lot of tidying to do.  Toys, clothing items, books…they seem to be everywhere except they ought to be.  I might be imaging it, but it sometimes seems as if the boys go into their room and open up all the cupboards and drawers, and then pull everything out and throw their belongings up into the air to see where they will land.  I was still tidying and had not started cleaning their rooms, when I heard my name again.

I went down to the first floor master bedroom where the voice was coming from.  I could not believe my eyes! Yesterday, I had done a thorough clean of this room.  An hour earlier I had spent fifteen minutes making the bed and tidying the clothes that were left on the floor.  This time I really was not imagining it.  Somebody, (and it was looking very much like that somebody was the lady of the house) really had opened all of the closet doors and drawers and pulled out all of her clothes and shoes and bags and thrown them on the floor.

Ay ay ay!!! My parents forbade us from using expletives…but the thought that ran through my mind was not a happy one.  She was looking for some shoes.  She has possibly sixty pairs I realized last week when I cleaned the inside of her closet and re-arranged everything at her request.  I put the normal looking sensible shoes in the main shelves and the weird shoes (you know they types someone might want to wear for a fancy-dress party) on the top shelves of the closet.  She described to me the pair of shoes she wanted to wear, while I tried to hide the horrified dismay on my face.  I asked her if she meant the spice girls shoes.  She didn’t know what I meant.

Well, tell me, if someone asked you to find shoes that are red, blue and white, with sequins and with a platform wedge…how would you describe them?  When I originally saw these shoes, I thought they were hideous, but I concluded they must be part of a “Ginger Spice” fancy dress costume.  Apparently not, I discovered today that they are the latest creation of some sensational designer – of course she would know about these things since she works in the fashion industry.  After I had found the shoes, I had to put everything back into the drawers and wardrobes.  Then back upstairs to clean the rooms on the third floor.  I still had not cleaned the kitchen after breakfast.  All the washing needed to be sorted out.  I was not sure when, or if, today was ever going to end!

Well….this is life…this is house-keeping!!!!  I am telling myself to get on with it and deal with things calmly and not get flustered but see the funny side of things.

The “funny side of things”…and now we come back to the squirrel…he looked innocent enough didn’t he?

…I had just finished for the day – everything was looking immaculate and I turned the lights off.  I was heading downstairs to take a quick shower before I went out, when…..CRASH!!!!….I turned around and my jaw dropped.  A kamikaze squirrel!!!!!  It had just done some kind of “Fosbury flop” and a triple somersault.  As it had done so, it knocked off several plant pots from the wall.  Now there was broken pottery and soil all over the patio and some of the plants had come right out of the pots.  The squirrel (who must have had some kind of a death wish) was outside the window staring in at me!!!  So, I had to fetch the broom and start sweeping up the soil and re-arranging the plant pots.

This is life! – things will crop up won’t they!!!  We cannot control the movements of kamikaze squirrels.

I am going to head out for a walk as soon as I have finished.  I am going to take my sling-shot, or perhaps my bow-and-arrow and try to find that squirrel.  My aunt Judy would love a new fur hat!

You know I am joking right!

My New Job In Notting Hill

Well…I have told you about some of the challenges I faced and some of the ways I started to learn how to deal with life and challenges again during my first job back in London.

The major decision I made was to leave that job as soon as I found another “tied-accommodation” role. I found a role fairly quickly as I have mentioned. I was moving to live with a high-profile family near Notting Hill.

I was moving to a very interesting and very diverse part of London. Ridiculous wealth in one street and around the corner dire poverty.

I was living and working in a house with a total of six floors because there were two floors below ground. I was running up and down the stairs a lot, which was probably good for me! There was a lot of work to do. The role was advertised as 4-4.5hours per mid week day, with the weekends off. I also agreed to do occasional child-minding.

The most important thing is I felt safer than I did in my first role. That was so much appreciated.

However… (always expect some trouble whenever you see me use that word!)…the role pushed me more than I anticipated. Those 4-4.5 hours were often 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 hours days. The child-minding was only very occasional. But I ended up having to do a few hours on Saturdays although that was not mentioned at the interview.

It was a big step up for me, as some weeks my hours were more than twice the hours we had agreed before hand. I regularly worked between 40-50 hours. I enjoyed the work. But I was exhausted with those hours. I was not ready for those kind of hours yet. It was a beautiful house. I took a lot of pride in my work. I really liked the family and the nanny that worked for them. However, I was pushing myself physically. I had not worked those kind of hours since before I was attacked. The more tired I became the more pain I found myself in.

I have a couple of posts scheduled which describe some of the elongated workdays I faced and give you an idea why those days became so long. But before you read those posts, I will say this, I managed to keep up with the work and still enjoy life in Notting Hill. I saw lots of friends at weekends which was great. I went out on a couple of dates which was a big step because for the year after I was attacked, I was very nervous around men. I found out my sister Milly was expecting her first baby during that time. I found some amazing designer clothes in charity shops in the Notting Hill area.

But one day while I was working with the lady and gentleman of the household, I bent down to pick something up and as I stood up I knocked the back of my head on the underside of a large sink. I felt a little dazed. They had both seen me bang my head and asked if I was alright. I said I was and I carried on working. By the end of the day the whole right side of my face was covered with bruises.

That prompted my employers to take me to hospital where I was given a CT scan. The blow had aggravated the head injuries I received when I was attacked. The verdict was, I needed rest. I was told I was not to work for at least a month and it was suggested that really I should rest for more like 2-3 months. After contemplating the needs of the household I was working for, I suggested they may want to find another housekeeper. I had to leave London and return to the north of England to stay with my parents while I recovered from the knock to my head.

I had mixed feelings. I love my family. But it was so disappointing to me to be leaving London less than six months after I had moved down there to recommence working and living in London. I felt a huge sense of failure. But I was exhausted and I knew I had to heed the advice I had received from hospital.

But that was not the end! More to come in the CARAMEL LEARNING TO LIVE AGAIN series! But the next couple of posts are based on e-mails I wrote to Stuart while I was working in Notting Hill.

The Scary Supervisor

Another TELL THE STORY Challenge and this time I have been tagged by the lovely Sadje, the creator of Keep it alive as you can see from her post below:

Tell the story Challenge #11

Here is my story (based on the photo directly under the title):

The Scary Supervisor

There was once a colleague of mine who was quite brilliant at her work. She had a fantastic understanding of her job and how the whole company worked. She always knew who to speak to and where to look to find answers. She was highly intelligent and was able to demolish stacks of work in her in-tray due to her untiring work ethic. There was no faulting her actual work.

However…(when you read that word “however”, you must realize that there is going to be trouble ahead)…she was made a supervisor. She may have seemed to be suitable for the role, after all, her work was excellent. But you never know with people. They may be very good at their work, but they might turn out to be completely ineffective in their role of supervising a team.

Her first task was to conduct interviews for the two administrators that would initially make up her team. One candidate she chose based on her being a relative of her best friend. The other candidate she chose based on his smart appearance and the impressive way he communicated at the interview, and his previous work experience and glowing references.

(As soon as I saw him, I recognised him – I gate-crashed his wedding, but that is a completely different story – he did not know me.)

So, on his first day, the supervisor trained him in how to perform the job. She seemed to be pleased with him. As time went on, issues arose. Some were due to his being new in that role. Every now and then he would have a question to ask because he was unsure about an aspect of the work, or he had forgotten something she had mentioned on that first day. She became impatient and irritable. Why should she have to repeat herself – what was the matter with him? She viewed him as an annoyance because his questions and requests for clarification slowed her down from getting on with her own work.

Then there was the computer software that was used. The system kept on crashing. That meant that until the IT department could resolve the software issues and get the system back up and running, he could not perform the tasks she had hired him to carry out. The way she treated him every time the system crashed seemed to manifest a suspicion that he had caused the computer software to malfunction. Rather than providing other work, she told him to keep ringing IT to demand they sort out the software urgently. Oh the IT department loved that! He must have been in nervous knots everytime the software crashed, when he knew the reaction he would receive from her.

She became more and more hot-tempered with the new administrator. He began to look unhappy. Although I sat on the other side of the open offices and worked within a different department, I observed what was happening, I could hear the conversations between them. I also heard her grumbling about him when he was away from his desk. She was watching his every mistake and I could see her hatching a plan to get rid of him. Just like that cat up at the top watching the goldfish. She was scary! She was incredibly intimidating and icy when she spoke to him. She did not see why she should be patient and make sure he was confidant in his role. She was essentially a very poor supervisor.

I often floated past and chatted to him. I confessed that I had been at his wedding. He wondered how that had happened. One of my friends was a close friend of his wife. On the day of the wedding, my friend’s husband was ill, so she asked me to go along to the wedding in his place. So I did. After that I regularly stopped by for a chat and also chatted with his supervisor telling her how nice the wedding was and what a lovely family he came from. She respected me. She knew I was very good at my job, and she also knew that I had played on the hockey team at school, and that whenever we had played the hockey team of which she was a member from the school that she attended – we always won!

But she wore that man down. One Friday evening around five o’clock I saw him in tears at his desk. I knew why. The system had crashed for several hours earlier that day, so she insisted he would have to stay late to catch up with the work. I had heard him ring his wife to explain he was not going to be home on time. I approached him on my way past. I was aware that the manager of the department who was the superior to the scary supervisor was nearby. She noticed me strike up a conversation with the administrator.

Very quickly I came to the point and I did so in a tone loud enough for the manager to hear:

She is going to make your life miserable. It is not worth it. I honestly think that for your own mental health you should get away as soon as you can. She does not deserve you. She is great at her own work and has respect from many in this company, but in her new role as supervisor it is very clear that she is not great with people. It’s your decision, but if I were you, I would find another job.”

He thanked me. I don’t normally get involved in anything remotely like “office politics”, but I felt that this guy was being pushed towards a break-down by his scary supervisor, so I intervened. I could see the huge sense of relief that came from over him and a weight lift from his shoulders. I went back to my desk to get my coat and bag to head home. I was extremely gratified to overhear the manager approach him and tell him that she did not want him to stay late on a Friday evening doing overtime. He should be with his wife at home. The manager said she would explain to his supervisor that she had told him to go home.

On the following Monday he handed in his resignation letter. He told me later that over the weekend his former manager, at the company he had worked at previously, had called him to ask him to come back to the company but on a much higher salary. He had jumped at the chance. I was so pleased for him. He was soon gone and I hope he never looked back.

The scary supervisor repeated her mistakes over and over. Her work was excellent. Her poor people skills, her impatience with new staff and her demanding, overbearing, intimidating manner of communicating meant that she was one of the names that were put forward to meet the quota for redundancies. She was soon gone…and I hope for her own sake, she learnt to be a bit more empathetic when she was a new member of staff at the company she went to work for, and had to be trained by her new supervisor.

__________

This is the photo I am choosing as a writing prompt for the three bloggers I am going to tag for the TELL THE STORY Challenge:

waiting

And the three bloggers I am tagging (if you feel inspired by the photo – no obligations if you don’t) are: