Wake me up when September ends – First published 30 September 2013

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September 2013 was crawling slowly to an end, at least that’s how it seemed. The last week had been stumbled through in a dream like haze, or maybe that should be a nightmare. The last September journey to work was a morose affair, walking towards a job where most of what I should be doing had been rendered pointless and the empty day stretched ahead gloomily with way too much thinking time for my liking.

30 September 2013

Half way to the lift I heard, “You grass!” it was Dave, the cheeky, chirpy security guard on reception. Puzzled I turned back and walked up to his desk.
“What have I done?” I asked racking my, admittedly rather addled, brain for anything that might possibly have warranted me being called a grass.
“Taking photos of that car in the car park,” he said with a wink.
Even then it took me a moment to work out what he was talking about, after all I’m always taking photos of things even if cars don’t usually feature high on my list.

Then it came back to me. Yesterday afternoon Howard had come back from lunch and asked, “Whose black BMW is that in the car park?” No one knew. We have a limited number of parking spaces for our little office. There are only fifteen of us when every single one of us is in, and that’s a rare day, but there are nowhere near enough to go round. Most of us don’t come by car so, quite often, our spaces aren’t used but they are reserved for our office. Obviously none of this matters one jot to me. What does matter is that some random stranger has parked in one of our spaces. We haven’t gone yet! So Noel and I went down to the car park to have a look and I took a photo as evidence.

Dave was actually quite gleeful about the whole thing. “Fancy getting that poor man in trouble for parking in the wrong space,” he chuckled. Turns out the driver, a member of staff on another floor, keeps sneakily parking in other peoples spaces. He’s been warned about it before but, as our spaces are round the corner out of view of Dave’s security camera, he thought he was safe.
“I’m not a grass, I’m a detective,” I said.
“Banged to rights,” said Dave.
Now there’s a thought, maybe that would be a new career direction for me. Have phone, will take incriminating photos.

The empty shopping mall opposite the office is in the process of being demolished. The builders (or should that be demolition men?) who have been milling about putting up barriers and drinking lots of tea for the last few weeks started work on the actual business of pulling down this morning. Between looking at all four emails that had landed in my inbox and having a long war meeting where those who still harboured some hopes of changing the office closure decision cooked up plans and proposals, I looked out of the window. The speed with which the buidling is disappearing is quite phenomenal. Much like the speed with which my job is disappearing really.

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Arabella came in at about eleven so at least I had something to do. She wanted some projected costing spreadsheets created. For someone who doesn’t really like numbers I’m actually quite good with spreadsheets and it did keep me occupied for the rest of the day.
Lunch time was even gloomier than the walk to work. Alice was off at an interview with the agency I went to on Friday so it was just me trying to fill an hour somehow on a damp, slightly drizzly afternoon. In the spirit of finding something interesting to occupy my mind I decided I’d walk past the demolition site and have a nose at the work up close. This turned out to be a pointless exercise because I’d forgotten that, although we have a great view from our penthouse suite, the barriers the builders have been errecting mean nothing at all can be seen at street level. Doh! Apart from the crashing and clanging of bulldozer against concrete you’d never have known anything was going on behind the big blue barrier.

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Feeling a little disappointed, I wandered past, wondering what else I could do to fill an hour. Then I spotted the cobwebs. The humble cobweb can be a thing of beauty, especially when glistening with sparkling drops of dew but who knew a coating of concrete dust could have the same effect? Ok so there was none of the sparkling, but the dust highlighted every strand of the lovely webs and I used up some of the available time taking photos.

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Around the corner different builders, ones actually building something rather than knocking it down, were playing a Kevin Little song that I quite like very loudly on a radio. The song made me smile and the workmen, seeing me smile, smiled back. A little more aimless, lonely walking took me to the parks where I sat for a while watching the lads in the skate park whizzing up and down the ramps and flipping their boards three hundred and sixty degrees like experts. I guess they are experts. Two lads who’d obviously had enough of showing off their skills for the day picked up their boards, then surprised me by linking arms and skipping along the path towards me singing, ‘we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz.’ It really isn’t what you’d expect from grungy looking teenaged boys dressed mainly in black but it was one more thing to make me smile.

Dawdling back to the office I could hardly believe it when I was joined at the pedestrain crossing by none other than Alice Cooper. Really, you don’t expect to be standing next to 70’s rock stars of that magnitude on a gloomy Monday lunch time in Southampton. Goodness knows what he was doing there but I have to say he was far shorter than I expected. Come to think of it, he was also quite feminine and there were no snakes, top hats, bats or swords in sight. Still he was dressed completely in tight black leather and had the raven black mullet hair, that rather distinctive nose and lots of black eyeliner that have been his trademark since I watched him perform School’s Out on Top of the Pops in 1972. Then again, I could have been mistaken, maybe it wasn’t him. Still, it made me smile and I need all the smiles I can get right now.

When I went out at lunchtime I noticed a missed call on my phone from the agency I interviewed with last week. The cruise company they sent my CV to are interested in me. They aren’t interviewing yet but they aren’t saying no either so I’m taking that as good news. It’s a much bigger company with more room for development but there will be less fun, more spreadsheets and probably a more dour atmosphere. Still any job’s a good job right now so fingers crossed.

To counterbalance the good news there was some bad news. It came in the form of an email and, when I say bad news, I mean news that made me angry. This was an email from the new Head Office to everyone and I’m not going into what it said but suffice to say staff who have shown unconditional loyalty are being very badly treated and what is being proposed contravenes employment laws. How nice of them to put it in writing then.

As I walked along the river path on my way home tonight there was one last thing to lift my glum mood. For some reason the sky was teaming with seagulls. Despite their bad press, I love seagulls. Usually this many means one of two things, flying ant day or storms. On the last day of September flying ant day is long past and, although there was a slight drizzle in the air, no more than soft sea spray, there has been no sign of a storm so far. Maybe they knew Alice Cooper was in town and were gathering to get a glimpse of him.

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Casing the marathon joint – first published 29 September 2013

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The penultimate day of September 2013 was all about casing the marathon joint before Commando’s first full marathon. We were off on a trip to Bournemouth, my first since I was a teenager. Bournemouth wasn’t somewhere Commando knew all that well either and neither, it turns out, did our sat nav. Despite inputting Kings Park, the start venue, we ended up about two miles away, at a car park near the pier. We hoped it wasn’t an omen for the race. Continue reading Casing the marathon joint – first published 29 September 2013

The beginning of the end – first published 25 September 2013

 

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September 2013 and I was being made redundant again. Sleep didn’t come easily. My brain wouldn’t shut up with what if’s, how’s and whys. After the news broke I went home trying to put a brave face on it and failing miserably. The dinner that was waiting for me when I got in went uneaten, I microwaved it then sat looking at it until it went cold.  Continue reading The beginning of the end – first published 25 September 2013

Here we go again – first published 24 September 2013

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Promotions are usually something to be celebrated. Most bring extra money in the pay packet, more interesting work, further opportunities and job security. At the end of September 2013 I discovered it isn’t always the case. This particular promotion slithered like a snake, unannounced, unwanted and with a venomous bite. Continue reading Here we go again – first published 24 September 2013

The out of town rhinos – first published 22 September 2013

The rhinos come to Southampton from https://www.facebook.com/GoRhinos/?fref=ts
The rhinos arrive in Southampton from https://www.facebook.com/GoRhinos/

The Go Rhinos trail officially ended on 22 September 2013. All the beautiful, colourful rhinos that had been living in our city for ten weeks were being rounded up and taken back to where Go Rhinos began, Marwell Wildlife at Owslebury near Winchester where there are real live rhinos. For ten weeks I’d been wandering around searching for these wonderful sculptures and I’d shared all the city rhinos. Now it was time to share the out of town rhinos. They weren’t always easy to find

Continue reading The out of town rhinos – first published 22 September 2013

Winchester with a guide – first published 11 September 2013 quote

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Of course, the twelve mile marker wasn’t the final piece of my September 2013 walk at all. We still had to walk to the wharf and from there to the centre of Winchester to catch the train home. Finding the train station has always been an issue for me in the past. In fact, finding anything in Winchester is a problem. This time I had a guide with me. Continue reading Winchester with a guide – first published 11 September 2013 quote

A beetle, caterpillars and house envy – first published 11 September 2013

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September 2013 and Sirona and I were feeling refreshed after our snacks at College Mead Lock. We crossed the little bridge. A short distance along, the track of the Navigation comes out onto a path beside the railway. Ahead the trail continues, it’s narrow, overgrown and crumbling so it was time to leave the Navigation again briefly. Continue reading A beetle, caterpillars and house envy – first published 11 September 2013

The Navigation with company – first published 11 September 2013

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On 11 September 2013 I went for a little walk. When I say little, I meant about fourteen and a half miles. For once I wasn’t walking alone, I had Sirona with me. In my defence, she did know what she was getting into. Continue reading The Navigation with company – first published 11 September 2013

Parakeets in the park and a half marathon – first published 8 September 2013

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The point of our visit to London in September 2013 was the Run To The Beat half marathon. On the Sunday morning Commando ate a hearty breakfast in preparation for his race. We’d actually arrived at the hotel restaurant before it opened but the staff were bustling about filling the orange juice containers and putting out the dishes of croissants so we didn’t have long to wait. My own breakfast was slightly more frugal, bypassing the sausages and bacon and sticking to a slice of toast and a small croissant. I’ve never been sure how he can run when he eats so much, or how he stays so slim come to that. Continue reading Parakeets in the park and a half marathon – first published 8 September 2013

Time and navigation, the Greenwich Meridian – first published 8 September 2013

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The Saturday before Commando’s 2013 Run To The Beat half marathon we were exploring Greenwich. Once we’d had our fill of the Cutty Sark we made our way to the riverbank to get up close and personal with the Thames and, from there, to the world famous Observatory and the line that tells everyone in the world what time it is. Continue reading Time and navigation, the Greenwich Meridian – first published 8 September 2013