Out of Work

I’m now in my third week of being out of work and this is my journey so far…

Week one was like having a week off:

Mr PinQ had won tickets to go and watch the premier show of Strictly being filmed.

Strictly logo

We decided to drive to Elstree Studios because the joining instructions state that the dress code is “glamorous” and I didn’t fancy an hour or so on the train followed by getting the tube or a bus – especially as it was likely to be a late night.

I decided to wear my pretty yellow Monsoon dress:

Yellow Monsoon Dress

I’ve only worn it twice, the first time when my little exhibition opened and then for a friend’s wedding so it was a great excuse to get it out of the wardrobe.  As before, I teamed it with jade green satin Karen Millen shoes and bag – similar to these but without the ruffle on the side:

Karen Millen Green Satin Shoes

It took a couple of hours to get there and there was a car park just off the roundabout exit directly opposite the studio which was free in the evening so I only had to pay to park for the afternoon.  We joined the queue, validated the tickets and waited to be allowed in.  We didn’t take our mobile phones because they have to be checked in as you enter the canteen/bar area where you spend the next hour.  There is seating for a couple of hundred or so of the 500 audience members and two ladies toilets but it made the experience quite chummy because strangers had something to chuckle about.

The audience were called in batches of 50 and we all walked to the Strictly stage.  As we passed the George Lucas stage, we saw a man in a butler’s costume peeling a banana – I made him laugh (and choke a little on his banana) because he heard me say to Mr PinQ: “He’s not in Star Wars!”

I made a request to be seated at the end of a row because I knew that I made need to move because of my back so we were seated in the production area at the edge of the dancefloor.  The thing that strikes you first about the set is how very small it is.  I believe that the ceiling height gives the illusion of a huge dancefloor because of the ability to show it with a bird’s-eye-view.

Whilst people were still being seated, I nipped out to the ladies and bumped into Cassidy Little.  I stopped him to say that we had been to watch The Two Worlds of Charlie F and that it was the best and most moving piece of theatre that I had ever seen.  He asked where we’d seen it and chatted a while and at the end of our conversation, he thanked me for being so kind and gave me a big hug! That made my day, everything else paled into insignificance.

The Two Worlds of Charlie F

Brendan, Anton, Aljaž, Pasha, Natalie, Janette, Darcey, Bruno and Craig and Caroline all came over and chatted with us.  Len kept his distance but I heard him talking to one of the production team about the fact that he was suffering from a cold.

The singers did their spots first and embarrassingly, too many of the audience were unable to clap in time and had to be told not to clap as it was off-putting for the artists!  We watched the entrance from the Strictly Express the introductory dance of Oti, Giovanni and Gleb, the group dance and Caroline and Pasha’s dance as reigning champions.  It was really entertaining but really tiring because there were several takes of some of the songs and dances and filming didn’t end until about 23:30 but we had a great adventure so it was worth every minute!

Week two of my new life was far more eventful but far less glamorous:

I set myself two fitness goals of cycling 50 miles and doing 10 workouts.  I cycled 52.85 miles and completed 16 workouts.  I started my NISA Bronze Passport training (old passport because I did the old NISA levels 1 – 10) and had an impromptu skating lesson from a Hockey Coach on Thursday afternoon – he really put me through my paces and spent a great deal of time helping me to get rid of my fear of going backwards by teaching me a new way to go backwards, pushing me to keep going, making do back crossovers on the corners and all the while, chatting about random subjects so that I would notice what I was doing.  It was great! I use those tactics sometimes when I’m teaching other people but it was so nice to have someone doing that for me for a change.  He also taught me a new way to lace my boots so that I didn’t get “lace bite” and what a relief that was – I can at last skate in comfort without having to keep getting off the ice to re-lace my boots.  It was also the first week of ballet for the new academic year and I finally managed to do the dance that has eluded me for 6 months.

I did the housework without tiring myself out because I wasn’t trying to squeeze it into a weekend along with shopping, socialising and exercise which meant that I have had plenty of rest.  It will be a while yet before I’m totally rested and fit again so I won’t try to push myself too much – I would like to enjoy my time out of work.

I felted the roof of the new rabbit hutch that we made a few months ago and tidied the shed so that back garden looks a little less like the Clampetts have moved in and Florence (the chicken in quarantine – chicken post to follow soon) now has a much better shelter on her temporary home.  It couldn’t have been timed better, the temporary covers that we’d put on Rocky and Drizzle’s hutch and Florence’s quarantine cage wouldn’t have protected them from the dreadful rain that we’ve had over the last few days.

I had a successful interview to run Magic Maths.  It’s an after school club teaching and supporting Key Stage 1 & 2 mathematics.  Schools are approached and if they are interested, the lady who runs the program goes in to do a school assembly, if the school then want the program, a register is set up and a night agreed and then this is where I would come in.  Magical Maths is a 6 week program and each week has a theme, so week 1 is “Maths Detectives” and my character would be Stately Holmes, there are 5 themes and the children get to choose their favourite for week 6.  I have started my DBS application but hit a wall when the electronic form refused to work and I will be attending training on 3 Oct 15.

I also took deliver of my new laptop and PC from Dell.  Joy!

Much as I would have liked a brand new, sexy inspiron, I was able to get both a laptop and desktop from the Dell Outlet store for the price of the one sparkly new one so I’m really pleased, it’s been difficult being without a working laptop for the last 3 and a half months!

We made new friends and spent time with old friends at a wine-tasting, had a lovely evening at dinner with two of our best friends in their new home, I had a great leaving do and we’ve had friends over for dinner so we’ve had more of a social life than we usually have the time or energy for so it’s all good.

I’ve tried out some of the fabulous new art supplies given to me as part of my leaving present from work but I’m still not feeling brave enough to apply water to the watercolour pencil sketch that I did of one of the chooks.

Week three (now):

Sunday was great, we took a trepidatious but excited young lady to Uni, spending an hour or so to help get her unpacked and settled more quickly, leaving her with only her clothes and bedding to sort out before the Fresher’s Ball and Mr PinQ collected a few bits and bobs from friends on his way home.  All was well.

Then came my first experience of the Job Centre for many years.  It didn’t start well.

Having applied online for Jobseeker’s allowance (after all, what else have I been paying National Insurance and taxes for?) I’d had a text from DWP (Department for Work & Pensions) telling me that I had an appointment at 08:50 on 14 Sep 15.  I duly arrived a couple of minutes early and when I tried to get into the building, discovered that it doesn’t open until 09:00.

I was not a happy bunny.

I then sat through all of the questions and was told that I could have interview training and assistance in writing my CV from my Coach.  I pointed out that I could probably teach my Coach a few things on that score.  The lady dealing with was oozing false empathy and that just made my back go up all the more.  Anyway, I left with an an “agreement” which was a list of things that I will do to find employment.  There was no agreement.  She told me what I would be doing.

I cycled for about 8 miles to work out the anger and was left feeling totally demoralised.

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