|Saturday, February 6th, 2016|
Yesterday for the first time in years I led (as a manager) my first team meeting. I am pleased that I did not feel nervous and I think from the reception of the team that I did not come across as too much of a tool. The unexpected side effect is that it has actually given me a significant boost to my confidence. The last time I was a manager (2007!) I was leading a team that I had started as a support worker when the scheme had started and I led as much by seniority as anything else. (I knew the job and service users as well if not better than anyone else there). This time I have come into an existing service with an existing team where even the newest person there new more about what was going on than I did. The team meeting brought home to me how much I have learned in the past month, how valuable my experience in the industry is and how the wider perspective I have been forced to re-adopt as a manager has already begun to shape my work.
In some ways the position is as familiar and comfortable as an old pair of shoes, but in other ways (particularly with the newness of the people and surroundings) it is exactly the opposite. I guess what I felt yesterday was a sensation of 'so far, so good' and I take some confidence from that.
This week I have been mostly reading: John Does Ay The End by David Wong Current Mood: pleased
|Monday, February 1st, 2016|
|The Enchanted Page At London Print Studio
I had an invite last week to an exhibition opening at the London Print Studio, not because I have done anything special but just because I am on the mailing list. Work commitments prevented me attending but the 'Enchanted Page' theme interested me as I am a massive fan of beautifully illustrated children's books.
I did manage to make it to the exhibition itself over the weekend but did not really find what I was expecting. There was little in the way of a formal exhibition (and I was not expecting much - this is a small gallery near where I work - but the emphasis instead seems to be not so much an exhibition as an interactive story telling workshop for children and adults. Plenty of great illustrations were present and this is probably an even better use of the gallery space, given the subject matter. There were also some beautiful books in the gallery shop that I will absolutely return to at some point soon. More details are in the link below.http://www.londonprintstudio.org.uk/exhibition/enchanted-page-friends/ Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, January 31st, 2016|
|Zom-B Gladiator & Mission
This week I have been mostly reading Zom-B Gladiator and Zom-B Mission (both) by Darren Shan, the sixth and seventh books in the zombie series aimed at 'Young Adult' readers. The zombie action keeps coming and if anything seems to be increasing now that the jobs of establishing the characters and situation has been completed. The zombie world in these books is expanded to include new characters, new levels of baddies and for the first time the wider world (outside of London, at least!).
I also learned this week that there are only 12 books in this series (and a bonus half length book which I actually picked up for free at the YA literature conference I went to a couple of years ago). The 12th book is due to be published in March so I have arrived at this series just in time to become properly excited about its conclusion! Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, January 30th, 2016|
I joined my old team last night for belated Xmas drinks (which traditionally happen in January because they are a swine to organise in December). It turned into a surprise belated leaving drinks for me too with some brilliant and thoughtful leaving gifts, touching card etc. Sadly, I was on an early shift at my new place this morning so I could not stay as late as I would have liked. It was good to see people again though. There were some great people (and good friends) in my previous team. Current Mood: touched
|Sunday, January 24th, 2016|
I have spent a very leisurely weekend watching Werewolf movies (and one movie called 'Werewolf Hunt' which turned out not to be a werewolf movie at all!). It might not have been the most productive use of my time but its been a giggle. I suspect I have already seen the majority of the great werewolf movies but I am happy to paddle about in the bargain basement dregs for a while and see what turns up.
This week I have been mostly reading: Arguments Yard - The Autobiography Of Attila The Stockbroker Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, January 23rd, 2016|
|New Job - Two Weeks In
So I have survived my first fortnight in my new job and so has almost everyone else. The first week was by far the hardest. I have had to meet a whole new bunch of service users, a new unit to work in, a new team of colleagues, a new boss and management structure as well as a new role for myself. That's tricky enough but in the first week five of my first seven shifts were early starts (sometimes I had to get up as early as 5am!) and I also had to work my first sleep-in shift without having had any induction into medication, the personal care routines of the service users or even how to operate the fire alarm panel in the event of an emergency! I got through all of this and the second week has been much easier. It's been a shorter week (I'm not working this weekend as I worked the last one) with fewer early starts, no on-call and I am a bit more familiar with what I am doing. I also had a meeting at the start of the week with my new manager and the newly promoted senior support worker within the team and we thrashed out some job roles for ourselves for the coming weeks and months. The current manager is also pretty new to the service and I gather that the previous management team were not up to much. A whole set of new systems has to be put in place for even the most basic of our tasks to be completed in any kind of consistent way. (Few current systems exist and those that we have are pretty chaotic) A lot of my new responsibilities will be coming up with the frameworks for these new systems and rolling them out within the team. If I can get them to stick then the job will be much more simple from then on but for now I have my work cut out for me! Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, January 17th, 2016|
|Zom-B Angels & Baby
This week I have been mostly reading: Zom-B Angels and Underground (both) by Darren Shan. Thes are the fourth and fifth books in the young-adult aimed Zom-B series. The series continues to provide plenty of zombie action and raise social issues like racism and religion. As the series is progressing Shan is also taking time to populate his post apocalypse London with interesting and characters and situations which often take the story in directions quite original to the genre. Thumbs up! Current Mood: awake
|Friday, January 15th, 2016|
|Health & Family - Into The New Year
Today I had what I hope will be the last of my appointments at St Mary's hospital regarding my health problems of last year. Today was the six month point of my being taken ill and the lung specialist wanted to give me the once over to get a clear picture of my recovery and what happens next.
The good news is that all tests indicate that I am totally clear. Not only is there no indication of anything lurking, but the huge clot on my lungs which caused the problem seems to have gone without causing any lasting damage. Good news all round then. There is so much good news in fact that it almost starts to look like bad news! The specialist is pleased by my totally recovery but is as baffled by it as he is what caused the problem in the first place. Despite the various tests they cannot work out why I fell ill when I did and apparently I was so ill they were not expecting me to make the impressively full recovery that I have. I am therefore, something of a mystery.
This is the bit that sound to be a little bit like bad news. Because they do not know what caused the problem I am potentially a candidate for it happening again. The advice then is to remain on the 'short term' medication indefinitely as a preventative measure. My first reaction to this is to blow the medication off. Who wants to be on tablets for the rest of their lives? Not me. This is balanced out by the fact that I have noticed no side effects from the medication. The only problems may occur (I am told) is if I receive a big head injury or become a candidate for surgery. Also I should avoid eating cranberries, ever. I have to balance this against the greatly reduced risk of further clots appearing in the future which stand a good chance of killing me outright or causing a severe stroke. So unless I hear differently I will continue with the meds and an otherwise shiny new clean bill of health.
The other bit of news is that my mother is now out of hospital. She was taken in for a few days following another fall at home. Aside from the worry about the fall thee is also some good news here as no serious injury (breakages or anything) was sustained. While my mum was in hospital she was visited by a physio who has referred her to a team that will assess her ability to continue to live independently and arrange for additional support if any is required. I chased through the multiple layers of bureaucracy earlier in the week and on the fifth number I obtained I managed to speak to the manager of the team who will be providing this service. I was trying to obtain a written copy of my mother's care plan so I could see what exactly it is she wil be supported with. This is being provided at my mothers house which makes it difficult for me to access but my siblings who still live in Wales will be able to check it out. I also managed to arrange for the team to assess my mother's ability to manage (or not) the steps outside her home. She currently really struggles with these. Family members could take her out in a wheelchair were it not for these steps which leave my mother practically housebound. If she is assessed as needing adaptations to the steps then I will hopefully be able to use this as leverage with the local council to fit a ramp - still only a slim possibility but it will give us something to work with. I will post more on that if there are any developments. Current Mood: awake
|Tuesday, January 12th, 2016|
|New Job - First Day
I started my new job today and found it to be a bit of a mixed bag. The new service users are not as challenging as those I have been working with in recent years but they are also not as skilled/able so the day to day requirements are very different. I am not sure how much I will enjoy that in the long run but for now I am enjoying the challenge of getting to know new clients, a new team, a new manager, a new building and a new role. I have to get up to speed pretty damn quickly as I will be expected to not just be up and running but to some extent leading in quite short order.
On a lighter note I have decided that my new job title is 'Ass Man' as that is a much funnier abbreviation than A.T.M. (Assistant Team Manager - my official job title). Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, January 9th, 2016|
|Christmas Finally Wrapped
I have had a week of work this week (because it was my birthday and I worked through new year). I have used it pretty wisely and caught up with various people that I could not see over Christmas. On Thursday I met my friend and former colleague Emma in Watford (where I used to live and where she is just about due to start her new job). On Friday I met my friend Sarah and we took her twins (now nearly two years old) for a play in the child friendly sections of the Science Museum. Today I made my more or less annual trip to Bushey in Hertfordshire to meet with ALan, Yvonne and their kids who treated me to a very nice lunch. That pretty much brings to a close my Christmas and birthday celebrations for the year (and in quite a pleasant way). Tomorrow I have a day off, which I plan to spend quietly at home if I can before dragging my sorry butt into work again on Monday morning. Current Mood: awake
|Thursday, January 7th, 2016|
|Stravinsky, Gregson & Others
Sometime back in November (which now seems like a long time ago) I applied on the BBC website for free tickets to a classical music concert that was being recorded for radio broadcast. Demand is sometimes high but I got lucky with this request and was granted tickets for the concert today at the BBC's Maida Vale studios.
To be honest I had entirely forgotten about the concert until a timely text reminder from the BBC put it back onto my radar. Even so, it was still pretty difficult to motivate myself out of the house to attend. All of my friends were either ill, have small children or working (its Wednesday daytime!) and I really felt like staying at home and doing nothing. In the end discipline won out and I dragged myself out of the house on the promise that if I did this today then put in a few hours on my second job then I could sit on my arse all day tomorrow if I so wished.
I was glad I made the effort. Firstly I got to walk about a bit in a deserted but pleasantly mild January and I had an entire park practically to myself to enjoy it. The concert itself was also very lovely, though will not be broadcast until the Autumn! Two of the featured composers who had work featured were present to introduce their work and talk a little about it - which was really good. The BBC orchestra who were performing did so largely without their string section (as the selected works demanded) producing a very different set of sounds with heavy emphasis on the woodwind and brass sections.
It may say a lot about the type of music or even the time of day but I found myself very firmly in the younger percentiles of the audience and it isnt too often when that happens any more!
This week I have been mostly (re)reading: The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Current Mood: awake
|Tuesday, January 5th, 2016|
|The Answer Is 42
I have had my birthday this year and have had plenty of fun. I saw a West End Show, a modern art exhibition, an independent movie ('The Lobster'), a blockbuster movie (the new Star Wars) and a photography exhibition, been cooked for, treated to dinner, piled with gifts and thoroughly wished well, with more to come during the week ahead. Having acquired the third and last of The Hobbit Movies on special edition over Christmas I have also set about watching the three Special Edition Hobbit movies followed by the three special edition Lord Of The Rings movies. Between Sunday night and Monday night I managed to work my way through The Hobbit movies - tomorrow I will get to work on the Rings trilogy. To many people that may sound hellish but to me it's bliss. Is this what Douglas Adams meant when he said the answer is 42? I am still not sure what the question is. Current Mood: awake
|Portrait Photography Prize 2015
On my way to dinner with a friend tonight we dropped into the National Portrait Gallery to check out the latest Portrait Photography Prize exhibition. This years entries were as good as I have ever seen and possibly one of the strongest overall collections. My friend Viv seemed very taken with it so I may have converted a new fan!http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/twppp-2015/exhibition.php Current Mood: awake
|Monday, January 4th, 2016|
|Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture
After the show on Saturday I took my friend Kate and my god-daughters to the Tate Modern gallery (which stays open until 10pm on Saturdays) to see the Alexander Calder exhibition. I had not seen the show but was aware of his work (which pioneered mobiles so his art moves and interacts with the environment around it) and thought it would be fun. It really was a great show - the most fun I have had in a gallery for a while, and I usually have fun! I will almost certainly be making repeat trips here as I take other friends with me to share it.http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/alexander-calder-performing-sculpture
This week I have been mostly reading: The Good The Bad & The Multiplex - What's Wrong With Modern Movies by Mark Kermode Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, January 3rd, 2016|
|Kinky Boots: The Musical
I took my goddaughters yesterday to see Kinky Boots - The Musical at the Adelphi Theater on The Strand. Judging by the difficulty I had getting tickets (we ended up in the upper circle in some of the few remaining seats and this was booked two months in advance!) it seems to be a very popular show. We are all fans of the movie on which the show is based (and that arguably is based on a true story).
There were plenty of good songs in the movie version but this stage adaptation did not use any of them but instead featured music written by Cyndi Lauper and her style matched perfectly both the era and the pop vibe required to bring it to life. The story then was already familiar. The staging, costumes etc. were all of a suitably high standars and the show itself started a little bit slowly but soon found its feet largely thanks to an outstanding performance from a young actress called Amy Leenox who I haven't seen before but who works wonders with her well written role.
It wasnt my favourite show of recent years, or even my favourite musical (a genre of which I am notoriously difficult to please as I am really not a fan) but it was good enough to be very enjoyably and the important people (my friend and god-daughters) were very pleased with it. Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, January 2nd, 2016|
|Not With A Bang But A Series Of Whimpers
Today was in theory the last of my shifts in the job I have been working since 2008. I have a few days of annual leave booked before I take up my new position in a different unit. The usual shambolic chaos that my senior managers seem to relish has lurched into view again so there is still a 'degree of uncertainty' which will need to be resolved in the coming week. The only reason that my current manager knows that I am leaving is because I have told him. He has received no word on this from his own managers. The new guy who is joining my old team (partially to replace me) is managed by someone who has only just found out that he is leaving - and has demanded a pause of 2-3 weeks while she rearranges her own team. The upshot is that I might have to stay where I am in the interim period so that my current team isn't left too short handed! Today might have been my last as a full time member of that team, but it might not have been. Once I start in the new position it remains to be seen whether I will be able to still work occasional shifts with my old team (which would help them out massively) but it is difficult to resolve that issue without even having a clear start date yet.
Fun, fun, fun. Current Mood: awake
|2016 Photo Projects
Given that I missed so much of 2015 with health problems I have decided to carry over the photo project I was working on last year and try to get it finished in time for making next years calendar. There are also a couple of albums I have had for a while on my photobucket site that I want to round out - these both require time spent out of London, which will be good for me to do if time, finances and weather allow!
I have also been giving some thought to doing another 365 project (one photo every day for a year). I enjoyed the discipline of this project when I first tried it a few years ago but have resisted returning to it as so little of my life has changed in the intervening period. Now that I have at least a change of job it may be interesting enough to try again. I took one snap for today and will give it a try to the end of the month and will see how it goes and whether or not I want to commit to it. That should keep me going in my spare time!
This week I have been mostly reading: The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher (or The Murder At Road Hill House) by Kate Summerscale Current Mood: awake
|Friday, January 1st, 2016|
|New Years Eve
A couple of years ago I was sat at work on New Years Eve and I counted how many years I had been doing the same thing - the New Years Eve on-call shift, working the same shift with the same service users - and found that it had been SIX YEARS. It's not that I disliked what I was doing but for a job that I was particularly keen to leave that was a long time to be doing the same thing every single year. I have never been a fan of New Years Eve and being given a chance to avoid it AND get paid for doing so was a good deal at first - until it became symptomatic of the dry rot which had set into certain aspects of my life.
I resolved (an unusually apt word) to make sure that I would not find myself doing the same thing next year. I would throw myself at different job options and even if they didn't pay off I would still make sure that I did something different with my new year. On New Years Eve 2014 I hosted a very modest social gathering at my house for other mostly introverted refugees from New Years Eve - people like myself who are quite sociable but shun large crowds, noisy places and the forced jollity of the usual NYE party, much less night clubs and such.
This year, once work had finally got around to confirming what shift I was due to be working I set about organizing another similar event but this year with little success. My friends Tina and Dave were not in town for this NYE as they made a pre-Christmas visit this year instead. My friend and former flat-mate Debs was too ill to attend or travel, my friends with kids could neither get sitters nor leave their kids (and bringing them would have been impractical) and the one other person who might have come had recently started a relationship and so had better things to do with her evening. There were a couple of other local friends I could have invited but at this point it felt like there was very little to which to invite them.
New Years Eve looked like it was going to be a depressingly ordinary evening but at the last minute I improvised an alternative plan. I spent the early part of the evening visiting the special illuminated 'night walk' at Kew Gardens. This was lovely but made deeply memorable by the deluge of rain which struck me at about the half way point and left me colder and wetter than I had been in years. I followed this by a quick visit to Brixton to visit my poorly former flat mate. I was still too wet (and she too ill) for me to stay long but I was glad that I had checked in on her. I then made my way home to a hot shower, a hot meal and the traditional televised Jools Holland and New Year fireworks, with a bunch of phone calls and texts thrown into the mix.
Despite the total soaking it turned out to be a pretty good evening and as I will be changing my job after tomorrow I don't need to be worrying about finding something new to do for next year. Even if I get stuck at work it will at least be a different scene with some small sign of progress in my life! So my wishes for health and happiness go out to my family and friends. Bring on 2016! Current Mood: awake
|Thursday, December 31st, 2015|
|Zom-B Underground & City
This week I have been mostly reading: Zom-B Underground and Zom-B City (both) by Darren Shan. These are the second and third books in the 'young adult' zombie series, Zom-B. They dont quite pack the same kind of punch as the first book (which tackles racism and domestic violence even more than it tackles zombies) but they are still really good fun to read and are doing a very good job of world-building for the rest of the series that are still to come. Current Mood: awake
|Monday, December 28th, 2015|
|All Quiet On The Christmas Front
I have just returned home from another Christmas trip home to see family and a few friends (not all the friends I would like to see and only three of my four siblings, but I try). I try to give my mum the best Christmas as I can - or at least keep her off her feet for as long as I can. I also caught up with my brother - pleasantly out of hospital for a change. As pleasant as it was it is still a massive relief to be back under my own roof again, even if I am right back into work again tomorrow. I wouldn't mind having a day or two to myself to decompress a bit buthis year there just isn't the time.
This week I have been mostly reading: May Contain Traces Of Magic by Tom Holt. Current Mood: awake