Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm not a technophobe but...

Mobile phones are a necessary evil of the modern world, but frankly they bore me. And nothing marks someone out as inane so much as endless obsessing and talking about new phones.

Now I've realised why this is.

Changing mobile phones is time-consuming. Doing it regularly probably doesn't leave you with much time for outside interests.

My old phone had become increasingly random, which was bad since it was always temperamental. So I took the free upgrade. Its a good thing I have a week off work as there is no way I could fit this around a full time job.

Waiting in all day for the phone to be delivered.
The endless switching, removing and inserting of Sim cards
The hours of charging
Phoning to register the phone.
Not completing the call because it turns out I need to do something else with the Sim card first.
More struggling with the Sim and the battery

I'm surrounded by pieces of phone, old and new, packaging, accessories and instructions that don't quite explain things fully enough.

And that is before I've even attempted to use the new phone, which has more functions than my computer. All I want from it are the basic phone calls and texts, for them to work overseas and for the battery not to need charging constantly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Exit Stage Left

I no longer work in the theatre industry. I imagined telling the company where they could stick their job, making a speech to set the record straight and dancing gleefully out of the office. But of course I didn't do any of that. I worked my notice as diligently as ever, mumbled my thanks at my leaving do and left quietly, still with some feelings of doubt and regret.

I'll miss a handful of people in the office and several more across the industry, plus a few other things that made the days bearable.

I'll miss the outdoor swimming, and despite the rocky start, I'll miss the "Bums, Tums and Thighs" class (I had farewell more teary with the instructor than with any of my colleagues).

I'll miss the smiling man who hands me the London Paper every night and the woman who sells the Big Issue.

I'll miss lunches from Food for Thought. I'll miss the shops, although my savings plan won't. I'll miss the journey to work that I can do without even thinking.

But I won't miss the job and I won't miss the department. And perhaps I will be able to re-enter somewhere down the line.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Overheard Conversations No. 7

On the train, a Canadian mother is talking to her young daughter, aged around 4, who is swirming about in her seat.

Mother: Sally, protect your underwear! That's the responsiblity you take on when you choose to wear a dress.

Sound advice there, that many young celebrities would do well to observe.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Replacements

The advert has been placed to find my replacement and the applications are rolling in. Its not looking good. I don't think I'm irreplaceable. Far from it, I think my job could be done by a trained monkey, so long as that monkey was trained in databases, web editing and desktop publishing. Its just the quality of applications so far has been poor.

Shrewdly, my manager has asked for applications the old fashioned way, a CV and letter by post and the majority of applicants have fallen at this first hurdle by emailing their application, thus proving they are unable to follow simple instructions.

And it seems that the young generation can't write covering letters anymore. "Here is my CV" alone on a page is not a covering letter. At the other end of the spectrum, a rambling three page missive about what you did at university with no reference to the job offered, isn't the way to write a letter either. You don't start a business letter "Hello". And a letter starting "You must be sick of reading these letters by now" may make yours stand out from the crowd, but in the wrong way.

Then there are those who don't actually want the job, but are unemployed and have to prove they are looking for work. So we receive a CV that has been photocopied badly folded twenty times to fit in a miniscule envelope , accompanied by an unreadable handwritten letter - all of which reaks of smoke. Anyone familiar with Trainspotting will recognise this as the Spud school of job applications.

Some have written acceptable letters, but they've talked up their experience - when you read the CV "extensive" turns out to mean three months in one job. And where has this trend for quoting a colleague or former employer at the top of the CV come from? This has passed me by but I don't like it. One quoted a former colleague saying she was "a problem-solver" but on further investigation the company is something she started herself after college so the "colleague" was more than likely her best friend. Another gave pride of place to a quotation from a publisher saying she "was very naughty for leaving" that company.

There was also one from a recent graduate who admitted they didn't have the experience we are looking for, but was willing to work for £4k less than the starting salary "subject to a review after 3 months". I'm sure they would be willing to work for that - for someone with no experience of anything, that would be a pretty good starting salary in most industries and very well paid in the arts.

My favourite so far has been the one that began "I am ideal for this position. I am currently manager of a massage parlour" and then lists their duties in the parlour, starting with "operating the massage machines". I've been in this job nearly five years and have so far haven't seen the connection with massage.

Shortlisting will be difficult. Not because of the usual spiel about receiving over 100 applications it was a tough decision. It will be hard to find six decent candidates to pick from.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

You don't see that every day

A woman in her 70s, wearing blue nail varnish on her toenails.

It matched her raincoat.

Life and Death in the Media Age

I experienced something new last night - sitting in a pub watching a televised funeral. I didn't set out to watch it in the pub - the trains home had all been cancelled due to the storms so we decided to wait it out in a nearby pub. The pub, where we've frequently watched football and cricket, was showing the memorial.

It was bizarre, but then the whole thing has been bizarre.

The memorial was, I suppose, a fitting tribute. The music was good, the rest I'm not so sure about. A celebration of his talent would have been good without the coffin being on stage.

It felt disrespectful somehow to be ordering a round of drinks while Brooke Shields was talking, although I did it anyway. In a hushed sombre tone.

Paul Gambaccini was commentating on the show and he made the most memorable comment on the star's death. Asked if in years to come, his legacy would be the music or the controversy, he replied that it would be the music "because anyone can own a llama". Having a pet llama wasn't the scandal that first comes to my mind, that is still in acceptable levels of eccentricity as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, July 06, 2009


I live in a modest abode, not a vast estate. So it was rather strange on Saturday to find that it was raining in the back garden, but not in the front.