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.

 

 

 

Stealing a Prostitute’s Dinner

Mid-party, I latch onto a conversation where disappointment is being voiced loudly by a man observing the vast change in a women who he’s known for years. He is stumped by what’s happened to her – a prudish Accountant, with a partner commonly known as ‘Dull Martin’.

“She used to be nuts – in a good way. We once saw her steal a prostitute’s dinner: bold as brass she grabs this guy who’s been stopped by these hookers and goes “why pay for sex when I’ll give it to you for free?” and she took his hand and dragged him to the beach.”

It made me think: how much do we change when we’re with someone?

On closer scrutiny of my own life, and the recent Russell-Brand-style-departure –from-committed-relationship-via-text-message, I become aware that, in the name of love, I am as guilty as the prostitute’s-dinner-thief-turned-dull-Accountant.

Firstly I love salmon.  I’ve not eaten salmon for 4 years. The consideration that went into this move is worrying – based on the shouldn’t-be-relevant fact that the Midlife Crisis didn’t like salmon. Could I ever forgive myself if he had the scent of salmon absorbed by his T-shirt? Would he enjoy his alternative steak as much if my salmon was winding him up from across the table? And the error to think that any loved one is worth a sacrificed fish – they’re not.

Dancing. I morphed from competent salsa-dancer to an imitation rigid dad at a wedding, no longer able to adopt even a simple side step without fear of causing shame. Perhaps this was related to the number of strippers my ex had previously been with (which he genuinely had). I guess it equates to cooking for someone who’s dated Nigella Lawson – there’s a fear of being pale in comparison.

And I look around and see we are not alone: an apparently self-assure male friend has recently traded Led Zeppelin T-shirts for cable knit – thanks to a plum-in-the-mouth girlfriend (who incidentally is forcing a cockney accent).

And then there’s the biggest culprit of them all: my countryside-hiking, gardening, book-reading ex who now has a twin-exhaust Vauxhall Nova and is hanging round in LIDL car park with girls too young to have even heard of Roxette. Also, the previous pride that meant work would be attended even with a bilateral pneumothorax, has diminished (now the relationship is over) to the point of five minute interval moaning about his painful toe, a cut the size of a dust speck on his finger and tooth ache. To the extent of limping and talking with a lisp…

Whilst we often change beyond a compromise of supporting our other-half’s interests, aren’t we too often morphing to fit only a concept of who are partner is? Initially I find this quite saddening. But on the positive side it’s a got to be good for those dating serial killers.

Paranoia Anyone?

The source of the recent random aggression from the impulsive-dumper has been identified: he believes that, during my manic 18 hour days, and only a few weeks after he walked out, I have met and introduced a new man to our son…

This would be an incredible feat so soon after being rendered a single mother, but whilst I remain a big fan of the motto ‘the best way to get over a man is to get under another’, to come over all Katie Price and introduce the kids after the first sight of a new penis is not quite my style.

It’s also somewhat out of character given I have the adopted guilty conscious of Fred West at even the slightest thought of wrong-doing. (I once pinched a half-penny jelly teddy sweet from a post office and after a sleepless night of shame I wrote a heartfelt apology letter to the post office owner with the coin value attached – not that this was successful in reversing my criminal guilt).

And the source of this altercation? This apparent burning rage was triggered by a comment that I’d “had a friend round”. It’s tricky to have avoided the misinterpretation here given that I had….. had a friend round.

Rapidly this female friend of over 30 years becomes a man who I am singing duets of ‘A Whole New World’ with and allowing to play non-biological-dad with our son and his pet hamster Linda.

I have visions of the twin-exhaust Vauxhall Nova (the mid-crisis purchase of the fleeing ex) being flung sideways around roundabouts amidst visions of a new man baking Fireman-Sam-themed cupcakes and making true-to-life sand sculptures of One Direction, as our son stands in ore, unquestionably emitting thought bubbles of how this new man is up there with Chuck Norris when it comes to male-on-male admiration. 

Further twisted inception is evident as the visiting ex picks up a plastic bag and asks me what I’ve been buying. “Cereal.” He’s relieved. “I thought it looked like a wine bottle imprint”.

Who the Falcon Crest looks for these things?  And more to that matter why do you care, when you’ve supposedly left someone less tolerable than Shingles?

In a combination of keeping the paranoia at bay and entertaining myself, I go out of my way to explain every action and object’s presence within my flat.  It just gets silly; “this marmalade is just what I had on my toast”, but thankfully the internal rap of the interrogator is clearly quietening down. (That is until a soiled pair of pants waddles into the kitchen aboard our two year old and is deemed a deliberate act of spite towards his father….).

I find myself bypassing the annoyance of the accusations and instead praising this trait: I am suddenly rendered totally void of any feelings of loss and instead feel grateful for the bendy girl who ploughed my man – and now has the joy of managing the lunatic.  

 

 

Click and Erect

Very Similarly to drinking two and a half bottles of red wine and then going on one of those cup-and-saucer rides, the thought of internet dating makes me feel very sick.

Having been pushed against my will, I had a glance at a site thrust at me by a friend this week – and instantly wanted to wash myself.

Despite having some lovely friends that shop for men online, I can’t see myself ever getting over the following issues:

1. You can’t detect an energy vampire from a profile. 

2. If I have time to browse 45000 men and read messages like “fancy riding the love train?” then it’s time to call the local vet and have myself put down.

3. It’s not safe to meet strangers.

4. I can’t reject anyone without suffering the guilt of an adulterous and I can’t hack rejection without focussing on the fact that I look like Alan Davis and have the sexual prowess of a mop.

5. A friend of mine internet dated and was asked for her full medical history and that of her family during the first date.

6. The same lass in point 5 landed another chap who spoke at length of his love of ‘tractor dancing’ and it’s benefits to the farming industry. (When you have to cut a date short for the genuine excuse of “ironing” it’s not worth the hassle).

7. As quoted by an internet-browsing friend “there are too many bald people called Barry.”

8. There is no option of a joint account option – so you can at least share the work burden with a friend.

9. I know a guy who used the site Grinder to get laid and the liaison resulted in a broken nose from an inappropriate measure of force during oral sex. 

10. Another real experience of a friend was being taken on a date to a budgie show in a local leisure centre by a chap with ill-fitting clothes and scratches on his head (which she was certain were caused by his budgie).

11. I just simply find it a turn off. Possibly unfair and incorrectly judgemental but it’s like Russell Brand driving a Daewoo Matiz: I’ve lost all respect.

 

 

Woman in a Tabard

So I’m stewing over the reality of my mother’s recent words “why don’t you try ALDI for a job?” and wondering if the tabard-induced self-esteem dip would be counter-balanced by the potential writing material. I’ve done supermarkets before and even on the Kings Road branch of Waitrose I got a tub of butter thrown at me (and worse than that, a (still current) huge love of mine, Jean Boht, shot me a look of pity on the day I was handing out free samples of apple whilst wearing a butcher’s uniform).

Then it dawns on me that I have previously fought off bankruptcy – adding Ann Summers party-hosting to a hoard of jobs – and, whilst I’m far from desperate to return to plugging Cock Rub, I thought there may be some mileage in documenting one of my recalled evenings of working in this role.

This particular party started less than confidently, given the previous day I had… (oh dear, this is embarrassing…) managed to break my nose and eye socket with a hammer, whilst replacing floorboards. I turned up looking like I’d been hit by a tram – not someone who could aid your love life. The evening, an 18th birthday party held in the middle of Byker (think The Bronx, in Newcastle), went rapidly downhill in terms of people caning any liquid they could get their hands on (I swear I saw Tipex-thinner necked at one point).

Amidst a post-menopausal woman revealing she’d been “pissed on” during a one night stand, (which got an applause that would have done Newcastle United proud), the doorbell rang and the room fell silent as a man walked in with a baby.  In an accent thicker than that of geordie Michael in Alan Partridge, he matter-of-factly told the host (the mother of the child) “it’s been bein’ sick for two days like so I brought it back”. The baby was grey.

Now normally I’d have questioned my own judgement and kept quiet (I once witnessed a car crash and completely missed the fact the guy on the bike had an arm hanging on by a string because he said he was fine – shock not occurring to me). But this baby’s skin-tone was the colour of a middle-management suit; my inner warrior kicked in and I informed them I was taking them to hospital.

So I’m bundling the baby, mother, grandmother and I think her mother and grandmother into my car whilst a gang of paraletic girls throw chin-strap-mounted-dildos into my boot whilst screaming abuse at the grandfather who returned the grey baby.  

Geordie shore has nothing on this.

A supermarket job suddenly feels a bit more appealing in comparison. I leave it three more days to hang onto the hope of the Funny Women Awards comedy writing long-list. Surely there’s some commission-related karma due after my late night scripting, extensive mentoring and Louise Hay affirmations….? Oh and the fact that my personal life is up there with that of Sue Katona.

And there it goes – fifth rejection of the week.

Bugger.