Archive for January, 2012

Whadda ya know?

Bleeding typical. The job I didn’t want I passed the assessment, the job I desperately wanted they said I was ‘borderline’ and needed to get another month’s experience and try again. He said it was not a ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ sort of deal, and that he wanted me to come back and drive for them, just with a little more experience.

*sigh*

Stuff like me not knowing where anywhere was, being rusty with a manual gearbox (I think that was my second go of a truck that wasn’t automatic since I passed my test, 2½ years ago! I’d have soon got fluid at it again.) and being ‘nervous’ (on an assessment for a job I was desperate to get, FFS!) particularly on the reverse. Bloody right I was. They said the assessment was all about safety. I thought it would be better to be slow and sure. That is too nervous. Screw that! I’m not risking crashing. 

The only faults on the road were that he reckoned I turned the wrong way at an offset, blind junction. As I couldn’t see the road to my left I turned the cab to the right, so I could see out of the left hand wide-angle mirror. It’s a small mirror, but sufficient. He reckons I should have turned the cab to the left, which would have blocked the traffic from the right, so I could physically see the road.  I’ll do that next time.

The only other thing was approaching junctions carrying too much speed, he reckoned. I don’t agree, but he’s the assessor.

If I’d have had a good knowledge of the roads and not been nervous, I think I could have swung that. As it was he just saw me as a quivering wreck who had no idea.

Balls!

I was gutted.

 

I pulled myself together and emailed an application off to another agency the same morning. The next day I got all the class 1 trunking jobs off the jobcentre and applied for them all. All agencies. All desperate for drivers. Until you apply.

I got one outright ‘no’, one ‘maybe’ and two ‘we’ll get back to you as soon as we get work in’.

Real jobs my arse! 

Agencies!

*spits*

 

That’s two weeks with no work now. Things are starting to get worrying. We’ve got enough in the bank to last another month or so before we have to really fret, but it’s surprising how quickly you start to lose your self confidence. And self worth, for that matter. Work is a strange master. I think it’s some perverse form of Stockholm syndrome.

 

On the bright side I’ve had plenty of time for other things, such as getting back into training and my instruments.

I’ve been for a few swims whilst I rest my knackered leg up. I’m struggling with that bilateral breathing, not my fave. Still,. all that chlorinated water I’m drinking must be doing my teeth the world of good.

I took my lap counter for my second swim, the day after my first when I was still stiff. I managed two lengths (about  two minutes)  under 1½ miles in an hour and three minutes. Which is roughly an hour and three quarters for 2.4 miles. About where I was. And that’s taking into account my stiffness, lack of training, and trying to learn a bilateral breathing technique. Can’t say I’m too disappointed with that.

 

The instruments are coming along swimmingly. (You see what I did there? Perhaps I should get a job as link writer. “That was Cooking With Anthony Worrel Thompson. Talking of thieving bastards, next up it’s the Tory conference.” Hmm, it’s a thought.) Anywho, back to the plot. The instruments.

I’ve finally caught up with where I was on the sax. Blowing some fair attempts at complicated tunes. Not to any standard of adequacy, you understand, but good enough to show I’m making progress. Now I’ve finished the “muppet’s guide to saxophony”, and know which end to shove in my mouth nine times out of ten I’ve hit a bit of wall. I picked up the next book to hand and went back to what I was trying to master before the hiatus, (Rhapsody in Blue) and find there are all trills and stuff that I have not learnt how to do, and am expected to know. Balls.

I want to keep the momentum going this time so I’ve ordered a book of ebay, it’s supposed to take you from picking the instrument up,  through to improvising for jazz. It’s a four book omnibus. I’m hoping I’ll just be able to read and play straight through the first book of it.

Also I’m half way through the “Learn As You Play Clarinet” book. They are excellent books. It’s the same as I was told to get for my sax. Not as much fun as some of the others but more rewarding. Irritatingly the upper range of notes on a clarinet are the same fingerings as the lower ones, but for different notes! On a sax you play the note, if you want it up an octave you just hold the octave key down as well. Don’t know if that makes sense. Take my word for it, the clarinet version is a pain in the arse.

 

Not as bad as Wendy’s piano though. Having two sets of music going on, one for each hand, and one being written so notes in the same position are actually representing different notes. That batters my head. Wendy is banging away at it though. She put in two hours today while I was forcing the misery-stick into submission.

 

Apparently Flo Brant’s partner is an accomplished pianist, guitar player and singer. *sour face*

I mentioned the piano on Twitter before we got it. Said I’d soon have it mastered, white keys, black keys, how hard can it be? My mate replied “Stevie Wonder can do it and he’s blind. Must be a piece of piss!”

I think I’ll stick to my woodwinds. It’s a lovely sound, mind. If both sets of music were written so the notes meant the same thing I’d give it a go. For now I’ll leave it to Wendy. And Tate.

Before I go, have to share this, laughed my arse off;

How I roll

Buck.

Job?

I am hesitant to even mention this, it’s so perfect for me. Even though I’m not superstitious I still don’t want to jinx it.

First off let me relate how I got here.

As you know I’ve not been applying  for  full time jobs because of nerves about the driving assessment.

The agency work has been really scarce and then when they did get me a day’s driving it was for DHL/ Iceland, the company and depot I had to leave because they wouldn’t let me drive for them! That was irritating.

Then, before they’d let me out on the road they made me do hours of paperwork, a drug and alcohol test and then a driving assessment!

After all that they sent me on an easy run, luckily. I know how hard some of the stores are to get in though. Having to back across carparks that have moving cars and customers. Scary stuff. To be honest I really don’t want to do it now I’ve tried other driving. However, if it’s a choice between a shift for them and a week without pay I’ll do it.

 

That was my situation and stress level. I’d passed an assessment I didn’t know I was going to do, which left me eligible to do a job I really don’t want.

I thought ‘Screw it! I may as well apply for other jobs, an assessment is not as stressful as an Iceland store delivery.’

 

So I did. I applied for something called Igloo logistics and for a couple of different agency jobs. The agencys haven’t got back to me. After I’d rang about the full time Igloo job, (and written the email, updated, tweaked and attached  the CV, etc) I went on their website to check I’d got the right email address. The Jobcentre advert had said some experience, their website said minimum of two years. I emailed it anyway then gave up on it.

The chap rang me back, asked if I’d had my license for two and a half years (I said I had in the email, but only six months driving experience) I confirmed, he told me to come in for the induction /interview thingy.

I went for it today and it is perfect for me.

It’s just trunking (where you pick up a trailer from a massive depot and take it to a massive depot, maybe shuffle a few trailers around the yard, then straight back to base, go home.) You can pick which start time suits you 0500-0730, 1100-1400, or 1700-2130 (something like that), it’s £9.14 basic, time and a third for all over eight hours each day, Sundays always time and a third. He said it’s the easiest driving job going and it’s well paid. Also, they have outgrown the Appleton depot so they are having another one built ‘”near Ikea”, ie on my doorstep!

I put all my paperwork through today, I’ve got a driving assessment on Thursday. If I pass that I should be driving this Sunday.

 

I so want this job. It’s exactly what I want and need. And it’s full time. And days. (So I can train, and sleep at night.) And you don’t touch the load. Just pick up and drop off the trailer. In big yards.

 

This is the time when it really sucks bottom having no deity to beg. No Tarot cards to try to divine the unseen. Just me. On the day. Pass or fail.

The irony is, I will probably have done a better drive for DHL/ Iceland because I didn’t want the job!

 

Please, please, please let me get this job.

 

In other news, a long time chum of mine (we’ll call her Flo Brant, for the sake of anonymity) is getting music lessons for her sax! Yay! Go Flo!

Wendy is still interested in learning her piano, I am getting back up to speed (to the pitiful level I was previously, anyway) on my sax and beginning to get to grips with my misery-stick. (Oo-er, mrs!) My clarinet.

 

I’ve been off training for the last four or five days as the damage to my calf (from overdoing it with these new ‘natural running’ –natural hobbling- trainers) had become too bad to carry on. Today I finally got around to doing what I’ve been putting off, since possibly the Outlaw, and went for a swim. Only an hour, but it wasn’t half as bad as I’d built it up to be in my avoidance. I was working on learning a bilateral breathing technique as the swim for Ironman Bolton is the opposite way around. I need to be able to ‘sight’ on the side that I currently don’t take out of the water. Ace. Lots of drinking of baths water and near drowning then. Still, I got a few good breaths in. Couldn’t do any when I first started swimming, on either side.

 

If I get this job I’ll be slapping the money down for IM Bolton, the Cornish half Iromnan distance triathlon,  (I’ll thrash it’s sorry arse this year! Vengeance will be mine!) and that Lake District trail running marathon. Again.

Got to get it. This could be life-changing.

GOT. TO. GET. THIS. JOB!

 

Fingers crossed for me (told you I wasn’t superstitious!)

Buck.

The Scream

OMG! This is wonderful. If you know the Pink Floyd track it is infinitely better, but I expect it stands alone. On the backing track you hear the snippets of the geezer trailing the black stuff (death?). The other friend is making it work as a conversation. Anyway, that’s just a condiment of extra appreciation. The banquet of taste and style doesn’t need it.

 

“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
Edvard Munch, 1893

 

Here it is:  (sound on, full blast, obviously)

For better appreciation of the experience you can click on the four arrows pointing diagonally outwards (the full screen button). Am I being patronising? That means to talk down to people.

Buck.

Music and this and that.

I said that I’d got Wendy that surprise gift of a clarinet and joked  that she liked it, so no bonus gift for me. The joke was on me. She couldn’t take to it. Bugger.

On the bright side, I now have the only two instruments that use a reed. Interesting fact. Or not. Please yourselves. You got in here for free, you know.

As a consequence, I’ve been alternating my blowing between the sax and clarinet. The clarinet is a bugger. If you think about putting your fingers near a key, or are not 100% on the one you should be on, or you don’t clamp down on the reed like a pit-bull on a postman it makes a horrible squawking noise. I went on to a sax forum to see if there was a more sax-like mouthpiece and it is a common complaint of sax players. Because the sax was designed as an adaptation of the clarinet, by a clarinet player, sax players (and me) think they can just pick it up and play it. Not even. One guy on there called it ‘the misery-stick’. The consensus view was that it was a fair description.

I picked up some tips. Still, I can now say I am crap at two instruments not just one. That’s multi-talented, that is.

 

Anyhow, that left Wendy bereft of a hobby again. She needs one. She used (20 years ago) to play the organ (huh huh) but always fancied the piano. (Which it would have been super to have known before I got the clarinet. Still, I’m enjoying/ hating it.) I looked at the options for renting this time, as little miss changeable might not have took to the amount of hours you need to put in. They were all crap deals. ‘Rent this crappy learner keyboard and if you want you can buy it later with the rent knocked off’. Why would you want to buy a piece of crap?

The rental money would just have been a waste and the kit was such low-end rubbish it just wasn’t worth it. Yamaha, who are a byword for musical quality (and rather nice bikes, if Mr Yamaha wants to reward me for plugging his kit) have launched a weighted keys (so it sounds louder if you bang the keys rather than tap them, just like a real piano) budget electric piano. It seems to save the money by not including whistles and bells gimmickry. Most of the electronic pianos have a shit-load of sound effects and a monster computer to dick about with. This is just an electric piano. It has four ‘voices’ ie, you can play it as a grand piano, an organ, and two others. Which, truth be told, is three too many, but that’s about it. There are other features, such as programmable downloaded tunes. Don’t even know what that is.

Anyway, the point is it does what it says on the tin, for a (relatively) modest price. It’s a piece of art to look at and when Wendy has been trying on it, it has a lovely sound.

Here it is;

Music room 002

So the recent addition to the house of a ‘music room’ looks a bit like this;

 

Music room 003

Though, actually looks like this;

Music room 006

Not got room to swing a cat. And don’t think I didn’t put that saying through rigorous scientific testing.

 

As an aside, I went into Dawsons (music shop) to pick up a learner piano book for Wendy and happened to get served by the geezer who teaches the piano. When I went to the counter it had a picture of Wendy’s piano, so I asked him if it was any good. He knew I’d already bought it, so had no reason to lie, but he said “It’s stunning for the money.” Good choice Bucky. Mr internet did not let me down.

That’s the music news. I may, at some later date upload an audio file of the various instruments. Unless you start sending protection money.

 

On the driving front, I have been getting enough work to keep us ticking over, 2 or 3 days a week so far. Really we can get by on 2. If this keeps up we will have no worries keeping afloat until it picks up in March. I have made a few attempts to get other work. Not really pressed to at the moment and I’m still nervous about doing anything new. Ideally, for me, I’d keep getting enough work at Stobarts until it picks up, then get a full time job with them. Still, can’t count on it, perhaps there is another job that I’d take to as well.

 

The other news is my training, I’m getting back into it with a will. Whilst I have all this time on my hands it would be rude not to. My calf is still… well, you can feel it pulling, wanting to go, but I just try and force my foot not to pronate. They said half a mile to start with in these trainers, then increase by 10% a week. I started at about 6 miles and buggered my calf. I rested up for a few days then did 5 miles. It hurt but didn’t get any worse. I went back and did 10 miles. Ha! Perceived wisdom, my arse! Man-up and limp like a bitch. Works for me. Now I can start seriously building up the miles again. I am going to do Ironman Bolton this year. I’ve just decided. You heard it here first.

Watch for me on telly, I’ll be the fat old duffer being stretchered off.

Later,

Buck.