So, I think it’s obvious …

… that I’m not a natural blogger! It’s been absolutely ages since I posted anything.


If anyone’s interested, my life continues on its usual cycle of work, housework and a bit of play in between times. More of the same old same old which I’m sure is the same for everyone else.


My job is OK.  I’ve been in it for nearly 2 years now.  I’d love to be doing something other than what I’m doing, but at my age I don’t think anyone will want to pay to retrain me.


Not much more to say, really.  So I’ll leave it there for now.

Bobbing about on the Firth of Forth

Bobbing about on the Firth of Forth

Squashed squirrels

Office squirrel filing his hoard of nuts

Office squirrel filing his hoard of nuts

Have you ever wondered why you ended up getting a job?  I have.  I have even asked, but only after being in post for a while and being comfortable enough with colleagues to ask.  I found out last week why I was given a particular post that I ended up being in for just shy of 6 years.  I only left because the funding ran out.

 I happened to be in a meeting with a whole group of people, most of whom I hadn’t come across before.  One of the ladies present, however, had been a member of my original interview panel.  We got chatting, as I hadn’t seen her for a few years.  Completely out of the blue she told me why I had been given the job – it was because of the story I had told them about squashed squirrels!

 It took me a few minutes to recall what the story was about.  One of the last events I had been involved with at my previous employer had been a day-long conference on red squirrel conservation.  We had someone from high up in the Scottish Government attending and their office had asked if they could let us have the presentation a few days before.  This wasn’t a problem for us as we always liked to check to see that the presentations worked on our laptops. 

 The presentation duly arrived.  What a mess it was!  Whoever had put it together had put the text in and then fitted the pictures of various red squirrels around the text.  This meant that a lot of the pictures had been stretched or squashed resulting in some squirrels resembling road kill and others looking uncannily like Billy Bunter.  On top of this, they were all facing the same way on each slide.  It looked very odd.  What’s more there were loads of typos and apostrophes either missing or in the wrong place.  It was the usual sort of mess that anyone who had been properly trained as a secretary or had even a basic grasp of English grammar would never have produced.

 I set about revamping the whole presentation.  I sorted out the grammar and typos.  I reset all of the images to their original sizes and fitted them properly by resizing and cropping so that the poor squirrels weren’t misshapen and were actually recognizable as squirrels.  I even flipped some of them horizontally so that they weren’t all facing the same way.  I have to say that it looked a whole lot better by the time I’d finished with it.

 It seems that the professor who ended up being my manager was impressed by the fact that I had been prepared to tamper with somebody important’s presentation, even though it was to make them look better. 

 So I have squirrels to thank for getting me a job.  How many people can lay claim to that!!  However, I should probably thank the person who put the original presentation together.  Had they not made such a hash of it, I probably wouldn’t have got the job for which I was being interviewed.








First few days – so far, so good

I started my new temporary job on Monday.  I always hate the first couple of weeks.  I hate having to get to know new people, new buildings, new ways of doing things and new office dynamics.  The actual job itself is basically going to be organising internal committees, attending the meetings to take minutes and then following up all of the action points. It’s not rocket science – I’ve been doing this kind of thing for about 30 years now, on and off.  I am hoping that they might be able to give me some more interesting duties to carry out as well as looking after all of the meetings.

Everyone has been friendly so far.  The office I’m in is very different to my last one.  The last one was always full of people asking questions, getting advice, standing around and chatting – at times it felt like Piccadilly Circus!  This office is the exact opposite and deathly quiet in comparison.  The only people who come in are the ones in the nearby offices.  I don’t think we’ll see many people from different departments, but you never know.  That quiet is going to take some getting used to.  There also isn’t much chatter.  I like the occasional gossip and gripe with colleagues and I’m not sure yet that my other 3 office companions are up for it!

Watch this space

My days in this current job are numbered …

… because I’ve got a new job!  It’s another 12 month contract and I start on 22nd April.  It will be a load off my mind for a few months anyway, till I have to go back onto the internal redundancy register.  Still, it sees me past a difficult family time and gives me hope of another holiday later in the year and some time off at Christmas/New Year.

I’m not entirely certain about what I’ll be doing.  It’s an admin post at my current grade, helping two more senior members of staff to cover the job of someone who is going on maternity leave.  I hope I don’t end up with the dross that they don’t want to do.  I do know that I’ll be organising and taking minutes of several committees (oh joy), but, hey, it’s a job, and they are hard to come by in this day and age.

Informal interview #2013-01

Had one of these (the first of 2013) yesterday for an admin job.  Seems an OK job and one I could do easily, although I am worried that I may be bored, constantly sitting in meetings taking minutes.  Where’s the challenge!  Not sure what they thought of me though.  As usual, when I’m nervous, I switch to auto-rabbit mode and talk a load of gibberish.

I really should give a bit of thought to the question ‘Why do you want this job?’.  I’m guessing that it’s not the done thing to answer ‘Well, I’m on the internal talent register because I’m under threat of redundancy.  You picked me off that register as a possible employee because my skills almost match the skills on your ‘desirable’ list’.  I need a job.  Why do you think I’m interested?’!!

I have no idea if they are seeing other possible candidates from the talent register. I doubt I’m the only secretary/admin assistant who’s under threat of redundancy at the moment, so I don’t think I’m a shoe-in for the role.  However, if it’s offered, I’ll take it.  It’s a year at my current grade.  More importantly, it will get me away from having to have contact with students and quirky professors!!

I’d like my own job, but …

seeing as they are few and far between these days, I have accepted the offer of an interview for yet another maternity cover post. I am meeting the manager on Friday to discuss the post.  I have two worries about it.

First, the start date.  My current contract is due to finish on 17th June.  Even so, I can leave my current post by giving a month’s notice.  The new people might not be prepared to wait that long as their job is available from 1st April.

Second, I am due to take 2.5 weeks’ leave in May to look after my Mum while she recovers from her knee replacement operation.  Given a possible start date of mid-April, that means that I could potentially be on leave for longer than I will have worked for them during the first month! My train tickets have been purchased and there’s no way I’m changing my plans – for anyone.

I know I’m probably inventing barriers but these things always occur to me. I’m too practical for my own good!

To have a job that you can get invested in, develop and enjoy seems to be a pipe dream these days.  I’ve had nearly a year of looking after someone else’s job while they were away. I don’t feel that I can change things. I’m certainly not invested in it. I’m doing the bare minimum to keep things ticking over because of my lack of motivation. It’s bringing me down and I don’t like feeling like this. I’m feeling very stressed.

Maybe that’s why I’ve just gone down with my 4th cold in 6 months!


Already giving up hope

There seems to be very little in the way of jobs that I can actually do these days in the world outwith academia.  It seems that anyone who calls themselves an administrator or secretary of any description is required to have some sort of book-keeping experience (which I haven’t got), an in-depth knowledge of personnel-related legislation (which I also haven’t got), or project management qualifications (which I definitely haven’t got).

I’m beginning to wonder if I should just give up looking for a job, take my pittance of a redundancy come mid-June and have a few months off.  I could do with a break.

Modern-day job hunting is soul destroying

I have just spent nearly 3 hours applying for one single, solitary job 😦


Despair clip art

It’s no longer a case of putting leather to pavement and visiting umpteen useless employment agencies.  These days, you have to apply online.  This means that you have to write a covering letter for each job, tweaking your CV to match.  This can take ages because you have to get the right tone – serious for an established company versus using a lighter tone for a funky business with whacky ideas.  

I have just applied for a job at a new business.  Their offices look very avant-garde, going by the images on their web site.  I guess they added the images so that you could judge how to word the application letter.  I have gone for a mixture of serious with a bit of light-hearted thrown in for good measure.  

I doubt I will even get the courtesy of an acknowledgement, let alone an interview.  I think my age will be against me.

This whole process is soul-destroying.


I’ve got another month

sun and rainbow

I was asked today if I’d like another month added to my contract.  I said ‘yes’ to this, even though I’d rather not stay here longer than is absolutely necessary.  Seeing as nothing else has come my way so far, beggars can’t be choosers.

On the plus side, the extra month puts me beyond the anniversary of my employment and adds another year’s worth of compensation money to my redundancy pay.  Every cloud has a silver lining!