Superimposed Dolphins

Blind date number one; I had the life sucked out of me by the champion of emotional vampires…. People always put their biggest effort in at the start and then the not so good traits creep in – this guy started off negative about the entire world. When he said online that he’d given up his career in construction because of the stress and pressure, I assumed this was a man who’d grafted to the extent he could almost retire off it at 30. No, he was in admin and had quit after making a mistake with a print-out and fled before anyone found out it was him. He’s spent 9 years since on the reception of a family friend’s funeral directors – and has apparently adopted the personality of a corpse as a result. I counselled the poor chap for as long as I could bare – not so much because I cared, but because my ego couldn’t cope with someone topping themselves on a date with me.  

I then went on to receive interest from a man who had 13 profile pictures, taken in succession in his office chair, each with increasing severity of cheesy grin, and the last of which had a superimposed dolphin, ginger cat and dog around his head.

Troubled by the fact my profile picture was obviously saying I am seeking someone really weird with an absent gauge of humour, I sexed-up the photo (just to clarify I mean stepped-up from a hiking photo and not performing naked splints and squeezing honey over my knockers). Add a bit of rock n roll edge and boom! Extremely funny man appears! I make joke about death, he makes joke about being a serial killer. This is an immense start. He has since sent me brilliantly appalling lyrics from Chaka Demus and Pliers.   

In other news; I apply for decent job, I get interview and immediate request for second interview.  I’m more or less told it’s mine when I leave, then a phone call to say are deciding on which of the two posts to place me in. Four hours later – a call to say the jobs are suddenly unavailable. I bought a massive brie triangle and defrosted and ate 11 sausages. I felt a bit better, if a little full.

So I remain envelope-stuffing, miles from home. The lovely lady in marketing threw me some copywriting which was amazing for 10 minutes until she got caught and I was put firmly back in my ‘admin temp – know your place!’ position. They apparently have ‘kick the admin/reception staff’ celebration days, but on a good front, I took the Queen bully by the horns and, despite my attempt to be assertive, stopped just short of throwing her threw the window…. oh well, points rewarded for bravery. And I am now left alone!

Finally, what a wonderful confidence boost to receive, not one but three, calls from the cash cow (!!!!). The penny (or 10 million quid) has clearly dropped that I had that place whipped into shape, but they’ve failed to realise the gangster criminal scene is not really my style. Eyes now wide open. (I say this but the chance of me naively going on to date a serial killer is highly likely. Oh well, at least it would be a good blog).

‘RealDeal1983’

A week in, I am grateful for the attention from the online daters, however, I am saddened that the ones who have shown interest fall into one of 2 camps: ‘still living with mum at 50′ or ‘step inside my lowered Renault Clio.’

Reassured by finding ‘man with Jetski’, I message him immediately, (this time withholding my inappropriate joke about death). Nothing. In fact, worse than that; he’s since disappeared. My anxiety states are currently so that I assume that this departure is after seeing my photo; his leaving the site and forfeiting not only his fee but the chance of meeting ‘the one’, all so that he doesn’t have to suffer the pain of my profile picture once again. What if he’s so offended he becomes suicidal?  What have I done? Will I be asked to leave the website?  Will the police become involved? (This spirals out of control until about 4am, after 2 pints of warm milk, 2 hours of sleep hypnosis and 200 pages of reasoning-writing). I wake from a dream, about a call girl leaving my son in a stately home whilst she goes clubbing, to my son patting me on the cheek, informing me he wants to make a fish pie for his best friend. I become absorbed with thinking how much the Jetski man might have liked the fish pie, had he still been alive.

During the day, I get a call from a withheld number – it could be him! No it couldn’t, he doesn’t have my number. It was the health visitor calling me explaining a home visit was compulsory, due to the Victoria Climbie case, but reassuring me it’s ok, she doesn’t think I had anything to do with the case. I thank her for her reassurance on that.  

I seek support from an experienced online dater who does nothing to ease my fears and shares some troubling dating stories. The first, she is grabbed randomly post- non-communicative cinema trip and snogged awkwardly in the middle of a busy West End pavement; people, some with buggies, knocking into them. (He didn’t stop). Another date found her interrogated about, firstly, her medical history and then the medical history of her family before again being snogged aggressively at a restaurant table (once he knew she was medically safe). Oh and then she remembers the guy that went to kiss her goodbye on the underground but missed and kissed the window of the train. Then texted her awkwardly to say ‘I’m really sorry I accidently kissed the window instead of your neck.’ NECK?!!!!

Another friend confirms the disaster rate of online dating with a man who turned up with the gift of a large toy mountain dog, and another who laid everything on the table in date number one and announced his use of weapons and masks in bed.

Whilst somewhat dubious that this route could lead to true love for me, I rub my hands together at the potential writing material this could bring, just as a handsome 6ft 3” sends me a message….

 

 

Getting Back on the Horse

 

I said I’d never do it, I’ve done it. I have erected an online dating profile.

I figure if I see it as writing research then I won’t be bothered by any rejection – but 5 unanswered messages later, I’m feeling the pain. Perhaps I shouldn’t have referred to myself as the love child of Alan Davies and Jilly Goulding, perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned wanting someone who will punch me in the kidneys if I take life too seriously, perhaps I shouldn’t have written messages like this:

Hi,

Erm…not sure how this whole thing works….oh well, at least I’ve not mentioned death yet.

So I jumped ship to another site and placed a dull serious advert – which seems to be getting some interest. Great! No, not great. I am being virtually poked and prodded by men that make me want to wash with a Brillo pad or call the police with an anticipated murder tip-off.

I went for a respectable photo with me supporting a big puffer jacket, intentionally non-provocative but obviously triggering some sort of ‘whey hey, what’s under the padding and wellies?’ intrigue.

Having found temping  work post cash-cow incident, I am fortunate to be working amongst some lovely men. All attached so ruled out, however I think I’d probably have damaged any potential interest had there been anyone single, by my office ‘accidents’…. In 2 weeks I have walked into a wall, accidently printed 608 copies of a brochure (instead of one copy…), broken the photocopier, a sentimental cup and the toilet flush, missed my mouth with a cup of black coffee and got severely lost within the (small) building.

With regards to the cash cow, I learnt from the cleaners that their activist fighting since leaving had been successful in that they had been paid. I hadn’t. I found the bravery to email the MD (copying one of the lasses’ ‘don’t give me none of your shit mister’ templates and ta-da! I got my money too, obviously paid into my bank by a company I’d never heard of….

My phone’s just pinged; I’ve received a message from a man who looks like he uses kittens to practice rehearsing the murder of his family.

I started drafting my insurance blog – insurance man likes it. So, unless I get engrossed in cyber-sex, or I get murdered by a 47 year old virgin, I shall be presenting blurb about business protection next time. And in addition, I have more subject matter from being a guinea pig for an Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner – who has let himself in for more than he bargained for….

 

 

 

 

Narrow (boat) Escape

I successfully tone down my unemployment anxiety with a canal side stroll; beautiful sunshine and tranquil countryside. What’s the chance of getting accosted by a madman on a narrow boat? Very high apparently.

Out jumps a mole-eyed tattooed 50-plus with an enthusiastic acknowledgement of the fine weather, only to spiral rapidly into acid-tongued re-enacting of his ex-wife’s capture by a witch’s cult from Sheffield. He knew far too much not to be somewhat guilty of this kind of behaviour himself. He also acted out a form of sex face that will haunt me forever and mentioned sex a few times for good measure, before stating he’d like to invite me and my friend into his canal boat and reassured us he does wine, candles and open fire. And no doubt a side of murder.

Being naive, I was part thinking what a great character he was, part trying to work out what meaningful reason was behind him coming into my life on that day and then I do have to admit I was quite excited about going into the boat – I’ve always wanted to see what they’re like inside and this, to me, would be like a living version of those property programmes. Is there room for a bath in there? What about a freezer? Imagine if there’s a cornor sofa! I’m shaken to reality by my friend, who drags me to safety then shakes me whilst repeatedly affirming I should never enter a murderer’s canal boat. She’s probably right. 

Good Friday saw me stuck indoors applying for any existing jobs within a 40 mile radius I’d not yet begged for. The knowledge that my little boy was off riding horses with his dad and Madame Backflip got all a bit too much and I legged it out, in attempt to eradicate my irrational loneliness.

Being Queen of setting myself missions, I laid down the law that I couldn’t go home until I’d made conversation with a stranger. I walked a distance of about 4 miles yo-yo-ing up and down the same 50m stretch of pavement before I braved Costa. I was just about to go and approach a man, when his girlfriend turned up.  I wondered about asking her about meeting people but she clocks me and demands they move tables. I consider going to see the man on the canal boat again before I settle for a woman in her 50s, mission achieved. At no purpose what-so-ever.

I got a bit of work: 4 1/2 hours admin at a chartered surveyors and a blog offer – to which I replied “have you read my work? I’m not sure if I’m the right person for your life insurance business….” He still wants me. So the challenge is on – can I take the grey suit out of life insurance…?

 

Cash Cow

What do you get if you cross a naive jilted single mother with a cash cow? A bloody good blog. Here goes my last 6 months….

So amidst ‘embracing the gymnast’, I go on the hunt for a job. I’m desperate, to the point that I surpass emailing, taking in hand-written letters and flowers for the most basic of roles, and start begging strangers in the street to let me polish their shoes – on my knees, clutching a photo of my son and my coat soaked in tears and snot. 

Along comes Robin Hood. And a job I adore, with the nicest most charismatic bunch of people alive (and a neurotic receptionist and a telesales guy with “8, or 9,” kids – more on that later). I’m in employment heaven; paid a decent wage, under huge pressure to get things done whilst juggling a million tasks resulting in an incredible adrenalin buzz, all whilst being told I’m wonderful. I love it so much I commute an hour each way and then move house to be near to the job.

At what point did I not twig that finance services don’t have used-car companies on their payslips…? 

After a week of chest pain and a month of insomnia, I bolted without notice, having realised I was the only person in the office with my name attached to the company, and after being blamed for everything possible, including the cleaning staff threatening legal action for their lack of payslips… (one of which copied in ITV to their email, at which point I ran to the toilets and both laughed ‘til I cried and feared for my life).

The cleaners walked with me, bless them (not without an uproar of obscenities and ‘power to the people’ joviality). I gave them a lift to the station and money for a chippy dinner – it was the least I could do for their support.

So I return to unemployment. But the fact I’m not taking paperwork home every night and getting up early to do means I am back with the breathing space to blog. Which is good because I’ve been itching to share my pride at having a trampolining certificate and badge rubbed n my face, with my replacement’s signature standing loud and clear. I did the right thing and learnt to sew very quickly, returning my son to his father and the bendy lady with her badge perfecting secured to some specifically-purchased trampolining trousers. They’ve bought a house, he can’t afford to share the nursery payments. Oh and three weeks ago he wrote a crazy formal letter stating he, a former boxer and doorman, felt threatened and unsafe in my presence due to my violent behaviour around our son…  I look like wine-taster Jilly Goulding, and I have the same degree of physical threat as her too.

So as a distraction to my award-winning anxiety surrounding ‘they’re gonna frame me for leaving the company’, I shall share my entertaining experience of working along-side Lancaster’s answer to Richard and Judy; the receptionist and the telesales bloke:

We start with Victoria (or ‘Tor’ as she prefers). This is one of the saddest yet humorous people I’ve watched, given her OCD. Allow your eyes to adjust to the bright orange glare of the perma-tan and avert your ears from the equivalent of a dog’s reception of a piccolo, and watch her make a cup of tea. 3 slices of kitchen roll are laid out, overlapped at precise angles. The kettle is filled and emptied 3 times before set to boil. A china cup is removed from the top shelf of the cupboard and unwrapped from a fierce coat of cellophane, then placed on the kitchen roll. The tea bag, individually wrapped in cellophane, is removed and placed into the china cup. The boiling water is poured from a dangerous height, to within a millimetre of the rip of the china cup. Then milk is added so that it spills all over the work surface. Both hands are then secured behind her back as the tea artist bows, in her painfully short skirt, and slurps the tea half-way down the cup, before filling it again to the brim with milk. Same every day. Oh and don’t even think about washing her china cup – it has to be done a certain way. Then re-wrapped.

Then there’s the UK’s most prolific meathead: Micheal, or ‘Big M’ as he calls himself. This is a man who can’t even tie his shoelaces but claims to have played tennis for England, ran multiple companies in the Bermuda Triangle, sold a patio to Britney Spears and fathered 8, or is it 9, kids:

Me: “M, how can you not know if you’ve got 8 or 9 kids?”

Big M: “Ah well, the fing is right, me ex hangs out wiv this kid who looks like me an’ me nanna asked her if it were mine an’ she went dead cagey.”

Big M earns up to 6 grand a month from the cash cow. Which he spends at KFC.

My brother was once asked in an interview if he had any questions, to which he replied, “Yes I do….have either of you noticed I’m wearing trainers?” I think mine will be a simple “Yes, please can I have a contract?”….

De-capacitated

I’m not a fan of property repossession, and given the fact I’ve failed to get a job having applied for everything available bar sex slavery, I’ve been forced to re-open a slammed door and re-register as a healthcare professional.

Mandatory training was never going to be fun. I knew it had the potential as writing material but it surpassed my expectations…

From the outset it was evident that the course leader had the ego born out of still sharing a bed with his mother – and used the entire day to try and prove himself to his audience, making sexual references at a frequency that gave me a feeling that could only have been relieved by ripping off all of my skin.

If there’s any clarity needed about the character of this man, here’s an example of one of his jokes, (one he obviously uses every day and still finds it hilarious, in addition to it reinforcing his belief that he’s a lady-killer, as a result of his wit): “feel free to put the kettle on – but be careful: it might not fit”.

40 minutes after the starting time, during which we were treated to a combination of the worst stand-up attempt and drivel about what we weren’t going to be taught, we commenced “intro time”. This filled the purpose of scratching the leader’s itch to find out personal stuff about us, and then gave him the opportunity to introduce himself  again…. He’s worked every specialism known to man – plus a few he’s made up, he’s worked in every country in the world – plus a few he’s made up, he works out 3 hours every morning and he’s just got a new Mercedes and some new bedding for his home – which I can only imagine he shares with an invisible woman he believes is Jane McDonald, Hoovering in a leotard.

With a smugness David Brent could only dream of and a much-rehearsed ‘wink-and-point’, he purred “without me, people can’t work”. They also can’t sleep at night without washing themselves for 2 hours with a Brilo pad.

“I don’t use powerpoints they’re lazy” – phrase otherwise known as “I’m too lazy to use powerpoints and also the entire subject matter will be me”. 

We eventually start with Risk Assessment. The whole of healthcare and the examples that could have been used, he selects this gem: “…for example, when you all walked in this morning you risked assessed your safety by sussing out everyone and whether they hated you. You all started off paranoid and I made you feel safe – which is my job.”

He proceeds to inform us that adrenaline is released from your kidneys when you’re excited about sex.

We move back onto the reoccurring theme of his pending Marathon, (I tallied the number of times he mentioned this throughout the day and it was 7), to which some foolish girl responds “wow”. No! Don’t feed the ego even more for heaven’s sake.

Then we’re treated to Manual Handling. I kid you not: “I have scratches all over my back, but that’s from stuff at home”.

I’m writing down everything he says and he asks me what I’m doing…

Me: “doodling”.

Him: “Ah I just had this sense when you came in you were good at art – you draw at lot at home don’t you?”

Me: “No.”

I’ve got an over-keen guy with a prosthetic nose to my left and a girl who claims she is dying (and has a dead cousin…) to my right. I’m losing the will to live.

The subsequent ‘required to be safe to practice healthcare’ topics were in the format of ‘discuss it between yourselves whilst I go and grind my deprived penis on the corner of the receptionist’s desk’. He then comes back in asking us what we have learnt and then responds to our silence with “come on guys, this is just getting boring”.

It occurs to me how much they are paying this man and I want to cry.

I try not to be sick, or to kill him, and keep myself occupied by writing down all his quotes. Here are some of the best:

“You’ve got to be careful where you put your hands when you’re rummaging through someone’s bed.”

(After an earlier massive lecture about respect) “Bin men – bless them.”

“What do I know about you? Are you wearing underwear?” (Said whilst drawing a picture of some curtains – which was actually a vulva).

“You know the website whatyourwifedoesntknow.com?”

“Be wary of flashing people’s bits when you’re hoisting them.”

“I had my manual handling DVD stolen – I was very upset.”

“I dive with sharks”

And my very favourite quote: “I know a police woman that saw someone get decapacitated”. (Capacitation: the penultimate step in the maturation of mammalian spermatozoa and is required to render them competent to fertilize an oocyte).

Someone pay me to write – please.

Broken English

I felt compelled to write an additional (and serious) blog this week and address the matter of someone who was in a far more influential position to promote the benefits of going through a tough time to other women/single parents, but chose instead to publically announce her victim state to Lorraine Kelly.

On scouring the headlines for material, Apprentice winner Stella English got my attention with her reported comment that she is now too poor to feed her children and “living a nightmare” as an unemployed single mother – with nothing but three London homes, two children and, as the Mirror evidenced, two bags of Harrods shopping.

Amongst a sea of women that can’t have children and the magic that’s brought about by daily kid’s conversation like “My got a bale of hay in mine nappy” (*plastic farm hay-bale located in nappy gusset*), I find it really sad to hear this women state she “has nothing”, has “lost everything” and her life is “horrendous”.

Break-ups are shit. And the majority of people have to go through them at some point. From my personal point of view, I find having a child around when your partner leaves is an absolute blessing in terms of having company, love, someone to make you smile and most importantly ensure you conduct yourself with absolute dignity and set an example to them that will make them proud of you in the future.

If you report crying all the time and your kids don’t know why – stop crying in front of them. When they’ve gone to bed then put on as much Celine Dion as you like and rock in a ball for hours, in fact don’t stop there: make a voodoo doll of who you’re most angry at and attack it with a soldering iron, saw your bed in half, drink lighter fuel – but when your kids are around you’ve got to man-up.

Ok, so my post-resignation Employment Tribunal claim wasn’t in the media or against Alan Sugar and didn’t involve a job that paid anything like £100,000 a year, but it was served with the same dessert of being landed a single mother. As for many other women around the world.

Stella English complained that she only got a Solicitor a few days before her trial – this is surely a blessing to have had one? If you are confident in your case then fight it yourself – it takes hours of fine-tooth-combing the scrutiny from the other side’s Solicitor but then surely this is what is expected? I would have been chuffed to have a Solicitor share some of the burden but I certainly don’t feel a victim for having to fight my own corner. This is a woman far from the back of the queue when they were handing out intelligence so what level of stress / correspondence did she anticipate from an Employment Tribunal?

And to say it can’t get any worse? It can. Your husband could have sex with a Trampolining Instructor ten years younger than you and you could find out via Facebook. A few days before you are due to have surgery. Again, this is a reality of life. And a gift of a learning curve.

It’s not that I don’t lack empathy – I do, and, in addition, I admire the strength to have stuck with such a huge case against a very powerful man. I’m just disappointed that, given my present near-obsession with latching onto the inspiration of every women I can find who has got through a break-up gracefully, here is a case in the media that shows a woman playing the ‘poor me’ card. She could have helped so many women by setting a robust example and cracking on with her life.

It’s also tough viewing to be presented with someone so apparently desperate for money yet still getting her hair dyed, shopping in Harrods and then spending her time tweeting several times an hour – when she could be applying for jobs.

One huge positive element of being in a position of unemployed single mother is the overwhelming empowerment it brings. Someone with the balls to go on The Apprentice and the fight to win it would surely have the inner Warrior to get out there, rent out her houses and claw at any job that would bring in an income.

I’m no perfect example of how to deal with being landed in this position – blogging my disappointment at my ex’s twin-exhaust Vauxhall Nova and new 18 year old friends is an admitted therapeutic move to try and find humour in the situation. And I can take little credit for the strength I’ve gained – I’m supported by the biggest backbone of friends I could ever wish for and hang onto numerous spiritual and motivational tweeters to reinforce keeping myself in check.

I had no knowledge of Stella English prior to her Daybreak interview. She is pretty, well-dressed, clearly bright given her achievements, apparently healthy, fortunate enough to have two children and her marriage seems to be a grey area – and therefore she is in the lucky position of being able to try and fight to keep it. It’s a shame someone with so much going for them can only see negatives and dwell on them, particularly doing so very publicly.