Thursday, 30 August 2012

Job Applications!

Well, dear reader, here I am, just a few day away from my birthday! How old will I be? That is not important really, or is it? Having resigned from my last job and finished with them earlier this year, I felt that I needed a bit of breathing space to assess my options as is said in popular parlance. Having a lot of experience with many aspects of life and work, well, you would have at my age wouldn't you, I thought that it was perhaps time that I might be ready to once again join the happy throng known as the workforce. Yes, I decided to apply for jobs that would make use of the social and life skills, education, abilities, insights, maturity and wisdom that I had amassed over time. How should I start I thought. I decided to look on the internet. Now, I am fairly well versed in this new technology and felt confident and happy to complete on-line applications and e-mail them to the recipient. This state of mind was not to last. Read on, dear reader......

I applied for three jobs with one organisation, forms easily completed, sent off, confirmation of my applications received. Brilliant! A great start. Having saved all my details  so that it would make the completion of the necessary forms on line with other potential employers somewhat easier and quicker for me, I applied for other jobs. This is where it all goes wrong. Now, I don't know who is responsible for setting up these on line application forms, but there are great ones and there are the abysmal. I started to enter the realms of the abysmal ones. The very worst, I found were the ones set up for various Councils. About as user friendly as a great white shark with toothache. I laboured to fill in the form, cutting and pasting into the various columns my carefully saved details, taking nearly an hour and a half, wisely clicking on "save" each time I entered some important data. Then, having almost finished entering my education details which needed more than two pages, (smug mode entered), the form had no further space to enter any more! So I went to the ubiquitous diversity form. Being happy to provide the information, I duly tried to click yes or no as appropriate. But, the response on the form was nil. Nothing happened. I tried the keyboard method, my trusty mouse, but all to no avail, not a dicky bird, not my fault as no one else could do it either! So the person that designed the form had got it badly wrong. Now, what does this do for my impression of the organisation. I will tell you. It makes me think that they are not worth working for, because if they can't get this right what else is in need of urgent attention within the workplace that may be of vital importance, like tea and coffee making facilities. I eventually sent the form off anyway, minus some of my achievements (remember, no more room). Another job I looked at was with an educational establishment which proudly boasted their commitment to excellence, advertising for a "permanant" position. I wept with laughter both at the advert and for the poor souls that would be "educated" there.

The thing is, on all these application forms, they require you to state your date of birth, yes, I have returned to the question at the start of this post! I may be wrong (I rarely am, but I will concede sometimes) but what employer would want to give a job to someone who has only a few years of working life left, as in me? I have an absolute wealth of knowledge and experience, I am reliable and honest, but also aware that my age will count against me, even though they will all say that it has nothing to do with my application. (Yes, right, what is that smell? Oh, bullshit again).

So rant over for now, got to get back to filling out forms designed by the inadequate, led by those promoted beyond their ability, all encompassed within a PC environment where everyone is scared to say "Good morning" just in case it gets misinterpreted as some kind of insult. Until next time dear reader..........

Saturday, 25 August 2012

First Day of the Blitz, London bombed!

First Day of the Blitz, 07/07/1940 My lovely Mum's 22nd Birthday!

Well a bit of a way to celebrate her birthday! Especially as she had my brother who was only about five months old with her at the time, along with her sister, Mum whilst her Dad was out doing his duty as a police officer. Her brothers of course were either enlisted or waiting for call up. The bombing started in late afternoon/early evening and the bombers had turned around and were on their way home by about a quarter to six. 965 enemy aircraft took part on this day, not all of them bombers of course, fighters and other escorts were involved, but within the space of about an hour, London's docklands and the East End were ablaze. The London Fire Brigade classified a fire requiring 30 pumps as a "Major" fire, yet in the early evening of the 7th September, the Fire Brigade were tackling nine fires which were officially rated as "Conflagrations", in that they required more than 100 pumps each. The largest was the Surrey Docks, where the fire was too large to classify, and it was arbitrarily rated as a 300 appliance fire.

Just after eight in the evening, the next wave of 318 bombers began to pour down tons of incendiaries, 306 civilians died in the bombing, and 1337 more were seriously injured in the City, with 142 more killed in the suburbs. An enormous pall of smoke hung over the capital, and the fires burned on.

Thankfully, my Mother and brother survived, as did the rest of her family. They had another close brush with death though, and if it were not for the quick thinking of another, neither they nor I would be here. But that is a story for another time. Surviving all that and eventually being bombed out of their home, unfortunately, my Mum died far too young just over a quarter of a century ago. Happy birthday on the 7th Mum, I just wish you could have had many more of them. May your soul fly in Heaven.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Football is Back!

Football is Back! Oh joy beyond words, the Premiership season starts today, Lady Perry and I can once again wear our team shirts, listen, watch and support the very best of the best. Now, what is our team you ask. Get real chummy, as if I am going to tell you just so that you can post silly comments and have me remove them from my Blog. I might be old but stupid I am not! It's like this face-book and twitter stuff, or farce-book and shitter as we call them. Used by many people to tell the world that they have just had a hamburger and fries (chips, to you and I dear reader. Another blog post on chips soon, really exciting stuff!) as if anyone is remotely interested. Do I use them? Now you are really insulting me! But back to the real subject.....

Footy, how Lady Perry and I love it! I still remember my lovely wife's face when I first took her to our old stadium, (bit of a give away there dear reader) walking up the steps, standing at the top and she just stared and said, "Oh wow". I knew then that she was hooked. So now we are in the realms of team-shirts, with numbers, visits to the shop, etc.
do I mind? Not a bit! My wife now very nearly understands the offside rule (unlike a lot of referees and linesmen). I like using the term linesman, that is exactly what the chap does, runs the line. Now, I am not going to criticise referees too much as I personally know one and also used to work with him. He is a thoroughly good egg and not biased in any way, as far as I know. I shall try and get him to wear our team shirt under the official garb, but really don't hold out much hope of him doing so!

The sun is shining, the radiogram is tuned into the football news, our team shirts are clean and ready, tea is being enjoyed  contained of course in official team mugs, the time is fast approaching that of the first kick-off, oh joy, what more could a chap want, except that we give our opponents a lot of work picking the ball up out of their net and we keep a clean sheet. Come on lads, three points for us please.

Until the next time, all the best, Grandad .........

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Never Bullshit a Bullshitter!

Bit of a title that one, dear reader, I hope that I haven't caused you to be too distressed by my plain speaking or overcome with "the vapours" as our ancestors used to say. If I have, hard cheese as they also used to say! 
So, you are waiting for the story then, it goes like this.......

Recently I took it upon myself to view a property for sale. Accompanied by my good wife, Lady Perry, we arrived in our vehicular transportation at the appointed time to meet with the agent. Now, as all of you that know me, I am NEVER late. Early, yes, by a few minutes or so out of old fashioned courtesy and consideration, (thanks for that lesson Mum) but I repeat, NEVER late.
The "agent" was late however, by about ten to fifteen minutes. Now I had driven approximately fifteen miles to view this property, but he had driven about two. Good start then old son, I am not amused already.

Having met the agent, who looked as if he should have been at school, except that it was the holiday time, he weakly apologised for his lateness, did not bother to shake my hand and introduce himself and virtually ignored my wife. Bad move. His appearance was neat and tidy, but oh the shoes! Modern, long blunt toed as seems the fashion, fair enough. But, they needed a darn good clean, it looked as if he had just finished a hard game of football whilst wearing them. Now, what does this matter you might say. I will tell you. It matters a lot and I mean a LOT. First impressions are lasting ones, so he has first of all been late and then doesn't seem to care about his appearance, which he should do as he surely wants to appear professional. His errors continue dear reader, if you have a moment......

We proceeded to enter the property. Whilst viewing the house, I asked some questions regarding the alterations that had been carried out, additional works that should be officially documented, etc. This lad, (well, most are when compared to my mature years) could not answer one question with any clarity or certainty, despite being the one that is trying to sell the house on behalf on the client. I quickly realised that he had met me poorly prepared, (if at all), unable to answer the most basic and I mean basic questions, (remember in previous posts, my former life having a business as a builder) and worst of all dear  reader, he waffled and tried to bullshit. Bad move old son.

Now, in an even more previous life, I was in sales, sales management and trained salesmen in their task. I instructed them never to give out bull, one can smell it a mile off. So I know what I am talking about. First impressions in any walk of life are important. As humans, we evaluate each other all the time, on appearance, manner, speech, etc. It is said that we make up our minds whether we like someone or not within five minutes or less, when first meeting them. I believe this to be true and have always trusted that "gut feeling" when dealing with people. Now I had nothing against this lad, he was trying his best and failing spectacularly, but never, never bullshit. If you are selling something to someone and don't know the answer to their question straight away, tell them. Tell them also that you will find out and get back to them. Take a contact number so that you can. People in general respect this and will not mind, just so long as you do what you say you will and get back to them!

The moral of all this? Have respect for yourself and others will respect you, look the part and like the good old boy scout, be prepared. Remember, prior preparation prevents p*ss poor performance. As for the property? No, I don't think so lad, thank you.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

This one is for you "Gramps"

This one is for you "Gramps"

"Gramps", I remember the nickname with more affection than I can possibly say. It was the nickname of my wonderful father-in-law, a fabulous husband to "Mumsy", grandfather to our lovely sons, father to my amazing wife (she has to be amazing to put up with me over all these years, dear reader!) and quite simply a man whose qualities that I would like to have as I mature. 

Now, "Gramps", or G, as I will refer to him from now on, had an amazing life. He was in the Royal navy, came under enemy fire on numerous occasions, his vessel was sunk, he survived various injuries, oil in his lungs, but, he endured all of this to become a man that I had the privilege of meeting, knowing and becoming a part of his family.

I will always remember the times when he played with our sons, laughing, crying with laughter a lot of the time, as I did myself, taking them to his workshop, letting them cut up pieces of old wood for fun and just rejoicing in the fabulous relationship of the old teaching the young. Whenever we went to see him and Mumsy, G always had something for our young sons to occupy them. It could have been an old game previously stored in the loft, comics, marbles, wooden skittles, etc. Simple pleasures for our boys, given with thought by a chap that loved to be with them and see them grow. I sincerely hope that when it becomes my time that I am as good a "Gramps" as you were.

Thanks "G" for being part of our lives, you certainly enhanced not only mine, but all of your family, may God hold you in his arms and shower love upon you every moment.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Family and friends

Family and friends.

Now, dear reader, there is an analogy. Not all of your/my family and friends will be viewed in a pleasant or gracious light. Personally, I have family that I have not spoken to, nor seen for years, despite some of them being very closely related. Indeed, when I have had the fortune/misfortune to have met them, usually at funerals or sometimes by surprise, mostly, it was polite conversation in most cases and was ended as a relief of at least one of the parties involved. When we met, it was like meeting someone at a social event, consisting of the dreaded chit-chat, "How are things going with you" conversation (which I loathe).

Some family though, are great. I have some cousins as have most of us. One of them, I will not reveal his name, I had not seen for some while and then met quite by accident some years ago now. It was simply amazing, despite there being  about ten years difference in our ages (I am the old git) we got on straight away, it was as if we had been meeting regularly for all of our lives. We started working together on some projects, each of us having our own successful businesses, having a beer after work and chatting about bloke things as you might imagine. Great times. They were not to last.

I noticed one day that my cousin had difficulty in eating properly. I asked him what was wrong and he said that it seemed he had indigestion for some time. I enquired how long this had been going on and he said that it had been nearly a year, but it was getting worse lately. Hearing that, I knew that it was something far more serious and urged him to go to hospital to get things investigated. He did and the news was bad. It turned out that he had esophageal cancer. For those of you that don't know, it is in the throat. At first, treatment seemed to be working, despite the advanced state. We used to meet up and play pool together regularly and one day he turned to me and said these words. " You know mate, I really like being with you, you treat me as if everything is normal and you never talk about bloody cancer like everyone else!". I will never forget them. As I said, treatment seemed to be going well.

One day, we were playing only our second game of pool when he turned to me and asked if I would take him home as he had a really bad neck and headache. In that tiny moment, I knew that we didn't have much more time together. The cancer had spread to his lymph glands. I spent as much time as I could with him from that day. I have a letter that he wrote to me just before he died, one of my most treasured possessions. He was 40 years old. I visit his grave and talk to him from time to time always saying a prayer and trusting that his soul soars in heaven. A real man and one I miss more than I can say, God bless, dear friend and relative.

Rules are just made to be broken!

Rules are just made to be broken!

Yesterday I was spending the evening with my art companions who shall remain nameless called Dave, John and Rod. Sorry, I just love doing that. As usual, it was an evening filled with conversation, some imbibing of wine, painting and critiques, followed by a late supper and then home. Now we all paint in various media, but one of Johns and my favourites is watercolour. Beginners seem to think that this is an easy way to start in art, but they could not be more wrong. It is a fantastic way to paint and results and finished paintings in watercolour  are unattainable in any other media. But it is an unforgiving medium, unlike oils which can be scraped off and the painting commenced once more, watercolour mistakes are far harder to change, it can be done, but always shows in the final result. Trust me, we know what we are talking about, having probably over 150 years experience between us all!

Having said that, there are what is called watercolour "purists" that  say no white should be used, but the colour of the paper should provide this. Also, no other medium should be used, for instance gouache or body colour. In other words, they have these "rules". Well, let them have their opinion, but if new ideas and experimentation were not to take place, not just in the art world but in any creative and especially the scientific sphere, we, as a species, would probably have ceased to exist years ago. A bit over the top Grandad you might say, but once again you would be wrong.

Science has progressed beyond even the most wildest imagination over the last 100 years or so. What was not thought possible in medicine and surgery when I was younger is now an everyday procedure. Why? Because someone experimented, someone dared to try a different approach, someone believed it could be done and by using various methods achieved the result envisaged.

It is the same in art. Do you think that the old masters would still be grinding and mixing their paints by hand? Of course they wouldn't. They would use the modern paints, water based oils (sounds crazy doesn't it? But having painted with them myself, they are an absolute joy to use), acrylics, etc, with the same pleasure that we do now. But I digress a little dear reader....

Getting back to the watercolours. John painted a lovely marine scene last night using watercolour. It didn't take long (he is  very experienced and a quick painter). Now, he had also added a little streak of Naples yellow in acrylic, highlighting the water which made the painting "sparkle", together with a few, and I mean a few, (it is very easy to overdo this), white highlights. Not pure watercolour then. Not adhering to the "rules". But what a painting it became because those rules were broken. The end result was far better than the painting would have been if left "pure".

The wisdom behind all this? Experiment dear reader, if it seems right to you and causes no other person any harm then do it! Dare to be different, think in an alternative way, go against the accepted "norm". Swim against the tide, question everything. I have tried to do this for most of my adult life and it's really darn good fun! Remember, the only rule is, "If you think you can, or think you can't, then you are probably right". Live long and prosper, until the next time, Grandad.