Category Archives: Work and Studying

Simply The Boss …

mugJust when I think my life is bad, The Boss proves me completely wrong.

Not only is he juggling three jobs at the moment, he is also without a van, his phone and his hair.

I’ll explain:

A few weeks ago he was in a crash at a notorious roundabout. Luckily no one was badly hurt and it wasn’t his fault (it was an 84-year old, on his way to his birthday party, poor thing).

Sadly, his beautifully sign-written van (designed by moi) is a write-off and was sent to the Crusher Yard last week – a day of sad reflection for us all.

So he hired an interim van after much grumbling about lack of shelf space and roof rack. Last week he had to sort out the plasterer at one of the jobs, left his phone on the dashboard for a minute (d’oh) and came back to find the van broken into, the phone gone and half his tools as well.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, after sporting a Donald Trump-esque haircut for a while, he went to a new hairdressers and came out with a razor-thin cut, looking like someone I saw recently on Crimewatch.

And finally, to top it all, he’s had to put up with me going through an MS floaty-exacerbation-of-symptoms.

I worry about him.

At work today, I tripped over countless times. I took ten minutes to doze in the corner. All the while, he was on my phone, sorting out a new van, chasing up his new phone and working out which tools have been taken. He collects them as a hobby so this in itself was a monumental task.

Anyway, as I was packing up to leave, he said he’d worked out a plan for the week and ran through it for me. I gently reminded him I was having a blood test on Wednesday and seeing my neurologist on Friday, so wouldn’t be in work those days.

I left pretty sharpish.

As I got in my car, The Teenager sent me a text, ‘Sixth form party tonight, can you iron my jeans? Can I have some money?’

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The One When I Argue With a Mini-Digger …

miniI love my job (the boss may read this).

It’s quite sedentary, excellent for an MSer, working as a project manager on a building site.

I deal with architectural plans on room-sized paper print-outs, customer’s wishes and all the rest that this job entails, mostly keeping the neighbours happy. I sort out who should be where, when and why. And if they’re not, why not?

My boots may be muddy but I enjoy pontificating, pointing and generally positing from an elevated position.

And so it was this week. I directed our newest recruit to the sewage drain and explained the brick-y stuff to our very handsome builder – not for nothing he’s known as ‘Handsome Dave’.

The Boss was happy; we had a newly-delivered mini-digger and dumper. I won’t boast, but I’m pretty good on the mini-digger (I get to sit down all day, what’s not to love?). There’s even a space on the dashboard for a cup of coffee, if I’m careful.

So far, so good. I sat down, showed off a little, then a bit more. Swing. Swoop. Swing. Get me.

I was trucking along, then paused when I had to take the mini-dumper to the pile at the front. Easy.

Problem was, it had rained. I tried my hardest, got the pile of mud to the bigger pile of mud out the front, positioned it carefully, and just as I was about to tip the contents, the dumper went all wibbly and started to fall.

What would you do?

If you’re me, you try to catch it as it’s falling.

So, I did.

Massive burn on my arm. Extremely painful.

I have a handy tip – never try to catch a one-tonne piece of equipment. I ended up at my Doctor’s, muddy boots removed and carried through the surgery when I explained what had happened.

‘Um, yes, I tried to catch a falling mini-digger. Is it bad? Ah. Really? Ah. Infected Right. I see?’

Long story short, I was soldiering on – I waited four days until the burn was so bad even the apprentice asked my why I hadn’t had it checked out.

As I apply the latest plaster and take the antibiotic, I still think I’m lucky that I have a job I love, despite the … setback …

In other news, I have written an extra 1,ooo words of my Master’s …

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I (Heart) My Boss

grand prixRemember everything mean I’ve ever said about my boss?

I take it all back.

Last year I tagged along to the Austrian Grand Prix with him – which had more to do with me having lived in Austria for two years, speaking the lingo (lol) and sharing the drive (yes, we drove, from Cardiff to Graz).

I’m not a petrol-head by any stretch of the imagination and spent most of the race in Austria tugging on the boss’s arm, asking, ‘where’s the loos?’, ‘why’s that car crashed?’, ‘when does it get to the exciting bit?’ and ‘can we go home now?’.

This year is different. He was toying with various Grand Prix locations, weighing up the prices. He worked out it was only a couple of hundred quid more to have me go along with him, than for him to go as a single traveller. Knowing that I was adept at travelling and scanning a guide book in the blink of an eye, he has asked me to accompany him to his Grand Prix of choice this year.

Singapore.

Sing-a-blooming-pore. Ah. No way. Absolutely no way. 31 degrees in September? I really don’t think so.

I said to him, ‘that’s soooo sweet of you, you know, to organise this ‘works do’. I mean, most boss’s are happy with a Christmas party at the local Carvery. Erm, have you thought about Belgium? Very clement, I hear.’

‘D’uh, we drove through Belgium on the way back from Austria last year. I’m striking out, being more adventurous. Just like you advised me to do?’.

‘Er, boss, when I said ‘adventurous’, I meant, perhaps going to Sainsbury’s for your ready-meals rather than Tesco’s?’

‘Yeah, well, I like Singapore Fried noodles, so it was pretty much a safe bet’.

‘Ah’.

‘Listen. You in? Or you out? I’m paying?’

‘Well, when you put it that way, erm, yup, it sounds, erm, pretty amazing’ (googles Dengue Fever quickly).

So the upshot is, I’m going to Singapore in September. I’ve rationalised it in my mind by thinking, ‘it’s experience, I could maybe write the next great novel out here, I might have the experience of my life’. If the heat doesn’t get me first.

I had a chat with the boss about what I should wear – always a touchy subject, being a fat-ish person.

‘Doesn’t matter – they’re all here to see the race, wear what you like’.

‘Like, I know, but a hint about the kind of hotel we would be staying in would be helpful?’

I should have known.

‘Raffles. Singapore’.

All my worst nightmare have come true. That epic, five-star hotel in Singapore? The hotel that invented Singapore Slings? The hotel that gives you a butler, just because they can? Gah. Really? I am neither rich nor thin. Will they accept me as a fat interloper?

Deep breaths.

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End Of An Era

booksAs I put the cap back on my special black inkie, zipped up my pencil case and gathered my scribblings together, I pondered.

I’m very good at pondering, but this was a very special occasion; I have reached the end of my Master’s course. Me!

The two years have flown by and my dissertation looms.

I started out wondering (pondering?) if I could write anything apart from a blog. I’m still not sure, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

I would love to say that I enjoyed every minute – but where would be the fun in that? I took this course to push me to my absolute limit. And it worked.

My MS brain was failing me big time and I wanted to do something that would/could wake  it up. I like books. I like reading. MS started to chip away at that, so what better way to wreak revenge on this pesky illness than to do something completely contrary? MS reared it’s ugly head again last year (gah) and I had a third course of Campath in September to help combat it.

Then my relative became ill and real life took a dramatic turn, no need for improvisation. But, honestly, what kept me going was writing. I know it sounds strange, but telling it as it is was was a lifeline – in a strange way, it allowed me to distance myself from the emotional turmoil. I would fashion sentences in my head, such as, ‘she walked with trepidation towards the ward, room, blissfully unaware of what she would could face’. I was self-editing.

But back to the Master’s. The whole course has been an exhilarating journey through literature, a non-stop assault on the senses. I’ve been reading my whole life and now, suddenly, I find that those decades, those towers of books I have read, are coming in to good use.

I’m not a starving artist in a garret, much as I’d like to be. Instead, I’m a chocolate-addicted scribbler in a very small cottage. I don’t wear fingerless gloves and I’m not freezing, MS heat-intolerance has put paid to that. The Teenager doesn’t like baked beans much, sadly. Nor baked potatoes from the microwave.

Yet, galvanised by the last two years of lectures, tears, upsets and criticism (always constructive), I am tentatively calling myself ‘A Writer’.

Don’t laugh, lol.

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How Not To Write …

artistI was flicking through, ‘How To Write A Best-seller in 72 Hours’ the other day, when I had a thought.

It’s really hard to write.

I started blogging almost four years ago due to sheer frustration, and with no one else to talk to about MS in such depth, having bored my dearest friends to death already.

I’d always wanted to write ever since one of my essays got an A+ when I was 12, and harboured visions of myself signing books, scattering bon-mots in interviews and generally being regarded as a leading light in a brand-new literary genre.

Now I’m coming to the end of my Master’s in Creative Writing and I’m not feeling very creative. At all.

I need to produce the beginnings of a novel – 6,000 words to be precise – plus a proposal and a critical reflection. Huh?

I have a few days off work to tackle the three assignments so this morning I got down to work: cat fed, three cups of coffee, quick look  through Twitter, and I was ready. New document in Word. Title. Page One. Mess about with fonts for half an hour.

Time for another cup of coffee and loading the washing machine.

Back to the computer: ‘She entered the room slowly, gently feeling her way softly across the vast, huge, vaulted-ceilinged room. ‘Where are you? she asked with a solemnity belying her tender years.’

Cringe. More Mills & Boon than Martin Amis.

I backspaced. ‘She stands in the large room.’ Then, nothing. Delete everything. I cast my mind back to all the advice I’ve read:

  • Write about what you know.
  • Read a lot.

Ok. I know about:

  • MS
  • Teenagers
  • Cats
  • Chocolate

A novel about a woman with a teenager who works in a chocolate factory and along with her trusty cat, solves crimes with astonishing detection?

Just as I was about to begin again, The Teenager thumped downstairs, gym-kitted and clutching his protein shake.

‘Goooood morning Mother. Off to work out. Need money. Ta.’

‘Hang on … I’m just finding the right word.’

‘Muuuuuum, gotta go – friends waiting. Money? Hello?’

‘Gah. I’ve lost the word.’

‘Mum! What’re you doing wearing my old Penguin t-shirt? What?! It’s from when I was fat – you promised me they had all gone to the charity shop. Muuuuum!’

‘It’s comfy.’

‘You can only keep it if you promise never, ever to wear it when my friends are here. Promise? Too tragic.’

With a fiver in his hand for a protein bar, he was gone. And so had my train of thought.

Back to square one.

‘It was a very dark and stormy night with pin-needle rain, forking down upon the unfortunate souls who forged their way through the blackness towards possible fortitude and redemption.’

Nailed it.

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