Total Pageviews

Friday, 26 October 2012

The start of the beginning

I haven't posted on here (again) for a few weeks, but it has as ever been an interesting time.  As I wrote previously, about 6 weeks ago my boss, the Head Housekeeper had her appraisal and she naturally enough brought up the subject of a pay rise (we haven't had one in all of the 3 1/2 years I have worked here and now earn just 19 pence an hour above minimum wage - bear in mind also that I have recently completed an NVQ 2). She was asked to put it in writing, and knowing that I too want one, thought that if I did the same thing, it would add weight to her argument. So that is what we both did. 2 weeks ago I had my own appraisal, during which the Care Home Manager sang my praises (actually we had a really honest and open talk) and said that if she had anything to do with it, we would get that rise, but sadly she does not sign the cheques. The cheques are signed instead by our Director, a former Director of the investment arm of one of the big four banks, (say no more), who thinks nothing of spending money on vases, mirrors and furniture that we do not need - anything it seems except the staff. His idea of treating us properly is the annual Christmas party, which is a waste of time anyway.

Six weeks later, despite repeatedly asking the Care Home Manager, we are yet to receive an answer, in fact I am not even sure if the Director has even seen our letters, since they appear to have been just plonked in his in tray. So on Wednesday I spoke to the Company Advisor (the Director when he is in uses the same desk), and asked him if he knew anything, and he has promised to investigate. The Director came in later that day, and requested a private meeting with the Manager, and before I left our Administrator informed me that "things were being dealt with", so if there is still no joy by this time next week, I shall have no alternative than to just ask him direct. I did not want to do this, as he is a large and somewhat intimidating man, seemingly with an answer for everything.  I do not though feel that at this stage it is up to me to justify why I deserve a rise, but for him to justify why I do not. I for one am heartily fed up with all this waiting around, and in a fighting mood, and so will be more than ready for him. Wish me then copious amounts of luck.

It seems that lady luck is already smiling anyway, since I received my first royalty statement from Amazon a few days ago since kindleising my book, and have sold three copies - this may not seem a lot, but it is no doubt three copies that I would otherwise not have sold, and I am sure there will be many more.

I had an email from my publisher a few days ago also, informing me that Richard, the Editor and owner of the company has arranged a deal with Gardners Books, the UK's largest wholesaler, whereby Richard's authors can advertise (prices start so I am told at £80) in Gardners next magazine, which is sent to every book retailer in the country. A year or so ago I would have jumped at this chance, and while it is true that this represents a good deal (I would have to sell around 26 books to make to worthwhile),  I do not have £80 at my disposal, not for this anyway. There is a long list of things that need paying for first - the new glasses that I ordered (£364), which I am picking up later on today, the deposit for next years holiday, the cost of my February holiday, my annual car service, a new winter coat, our trip to Glastonbury at the end of the year. I am sure there will be more expenses too before the end of the year. That £10.33 that I received then in royalties is a drop in the ocean, and sadly will not stretch far (a pair of second hand trousers from Ebay perhaps), if I am to afford all of these things, then I am going to need that rise, and if I don't get it, and he tells me as he usually does, that there will be a pay review in April (which one), he will be well and truly taking the rise. 

Yesterday then Coran and I went to Guildford to collect the clothes I had ordered from Rohan, who are rapidly becoming my favourite outdoor retailer (a pair of warm walking trousers and a Merino wool T shirt), followed by lunch in our favourite vegetarian restaurant, while today I need to collect my glasses and then go food shopping - what joy! As it has been some while since I visited my parents grave, I intend to get some flowers and go and see them also later on. If the weather stays kind, I will sit in the car with a cup of tea and my Kindle and watch the world go by.

Two days in a job like mine never seems like enough, and I have a long time to go between holidays this time, but despite my grumblings I do for the most part enjoy what I do, and I know perhaps most importantly of all, that it it so very worthwhile. Unfortunately it seems that in this country, those that perform the most valuable work are the least rewarded, but I have a feeling that all that and a lot more is about to change - the bankers and business people, both current and former have to start accepting that their gravy train is well and truly over. The signs are there that this is starting to happen, with the scandals and corruption that it seems are continually coming to light, but as we go into next year, all of this will start to speed up as more and more comes to light - the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, the fuel industry and so on. By the time this is over there will be nowhere left to hide for anyone who has sought to mislead and deliberately keep others down. This is the beginning of the end, or perhaps the start or our own beginning - oh yes indeed, a year from now things will look very different, for I really do believe that our time has come. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Paying off Karma

I have had a really strange week, that this morning has left me feeling really out of sorts. It seems at the moment as if the mind just keeps on ticking over, going into overdrive over what seems like trivial matters, but when put together, add up to make one complete and rather large whole. The pressure is mounting as the weather starts to bite, at this my least favourite time of the year - all sorts of things need replacing - winter clothes, eye glasses, my car stereo and so on, but the money doesn't seem to come in to match.

I have been in this job for almost 3 1/2 years now and during all this time not once have I received a pay rise, or even been told that one is on the horizon. I know that many others are in the same boat, but one has to consider that the health care sector that I work in is one of the most underpaid and overworked in the country, if not the world, notorious for this sort of thing. The problem is not you understand with the job itself, although there are certain things that I would change, or even with the Manager, but lies fairly and squarely with the Director, who in this case is a former Director of the investment arm of one of the big four banks.

To say that he is difficult to deal with is somewhat of an understatement. In the environment that he is used to, people do not communicate but rather, shout, and stamp their feet if they do not get their way. I have seen him do both on numerous occasions. He has this habit of getting angry for the least little thing - a mop and bucket left in the wrong place, a few specks of dust on top of a cupboard, things that in the scheme of life, like I say, considering the sector we work in, are really not important at all. But for him of course they are, for every time this happens, he sees it as an attack on his imagined authority. I say imagined, for although he (sadly) writes the cheques, he does not run the home - we do that, every one of us who works there, cleaning floors, washing clothes and wiping bums. I sometimes think that the carers get a really bum deal, but someone has to do it!

The lack of pay rise has though been on my mind, especially since I completed and passed my NVQ. To my mind this should entitle me to a raise, since this increases my value, but has one been forthcoming? No.

About three weeks ago, the Head Housekeeper, my Line Manager came to see me and said that she had asked about a raise herself, and had been told that she had to put in a formal written request. So, knowing that if I did the same it would add weight to her own request, we got together and put out letters in at the same time. The Care Home Manager, whom I have a very good and open relationship with, has indicated that to her the pay for the entire team is a major issue that needs urgently addressing, and that if she has anything to do with it, we will all get the raise that we deserve, but three weeks have gone by with no word from him. He is as I write, ensconced in Birmingham at the Conservative Party Conference. It worries me that a man like this has political aspirations, and says a lot about those who have already voted for him as Councillor in the London Borough where he lives. I would not have been one of them had I lived there!

He is though one of these people (a growing trend) whose world is quite literally crumbling around them, as the balance of power starts to shift away from those at the top (for this read those with the money), for bankers believe, that is this that brings power and influence, and it is all about who you know rather than what you do. This though is changing, and he can see this all around him, but he does not want this change, for he knows that he will have to change with it, and so he tries every trick in the book to control and manipulate others into doing what he wants so that he does not have to. I can read this man like a book, as I have been there and so know the signs - the look on his face tells me that a lot of the time, he does know what he is doing and the effect it has on others with regard to how they view him, and he knows that he needs to change, but does not know how to do this. In many ways I feel sorry for this man, but sending him compassion is the hardest thing to do when he is shouting the odds and acting like a general, well, one of those things that the carers spend so much time wiping ...

Against the backdrop of all of this lurks the spectre of winter and the cold, frosty, dark mornings with the daily struggle to get to and from work on country roads. This is also the time of year when the deaths start to increase - we have had one already this week - the husband of one of our long standing residents. The gentleman in question has been a regular visitor to the home seeing his wife several times a week. Around a week ago he informed us that he was going into hospital for some issues with his heart, exactly that these were I do not know, and so he would not be visiting for a few days. He was due for discharge on Tuesday, and when I got to work I found a note at the Nursing station requesting the Night Nurse to prepare the paperwork for his own admission - I guess he was coming in for some short term respite.

I didn't think an awful lot of it, and continued with the rest of my job, but then a short while later I had the thought that while he was there something would happen to him, and he would not be staying with us for long. Then, ten minutes later I was told that he had passed away. This understandably was a shock to all of us, as it was so unexpected. Later on that day, I was told that his wife had said to one of the Nurses last time he visited that she would not be seeing him again - somehow then she also knew. It was then for most of us a sad and rather subdued day.

While all of this has been going on, I have been trying to buy winter clothes from Ebay - to be precise, Rohan outdoor clothing - mostly jackets. Last winter I bought a beautiful fleece with matching zip-in waterproof jacket, but I have since lost weight and so both are now too big. They have sold out of the small sizes in the colour I want, and I could not afford them anyway, so I have been looking on Ebay instead. Three times now I have sniped at quite literally the last second, losing garments which I really needed to see me through the next 10 winters. It is heartbreaking and for me a really nasty thing to do, to steal something from right under someones nose like that without giving them time to react. I have though decided that I must wise up, and if you can't beat them I will join them - without feeling guilty, as although this might not be the most ethical of behaviours, it seems that on Ebay at least, it is the norm, so when my next auction runs out, I will be one hovering around my mouse putting in my last minute bid and gazumping the others, and seeing how they like it.

Today though is a day off - Coran is with a client, and the mist and drizzle has descended, so I am off to bed with a good book!  After the week I have had, I can only conclude that I must be paying off Karma at a vastly accelerated rate!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Winter begins to beckon

As winter begins to beckon, and the days start to draw in, thoughts of Christmas beckon, and with them the prospect of work. I know that one of my colleagues has requested time off, as she has to rely on public transport, which makes travel difficult, and Coran and I have arranged to go away for the weekend immediately before. This is a  busy time at the nursing home where I work, with the residents party to arrange and families visiting, so I was lucky to get the time off. Happily my days off coincide with 21st December, which this year marks not only the Winter Solstice, but also the end of the Mayan calendar, and in spiritual terms, the beginning of a whole new era, so Coran and I have taken advantage of that to make it the equivilant of a long weekend.

Coran and I did try to get private access to Stonehenge, but sadly it was already booked, so Glastonbury being our next choice and the Chalice Well also being booked, we have booked one night in the Travelodge at Amesbury and one at Glastonbury, the idea being that we can kill three birds with one stone - Stonehenge, Avebury (which is always open to the public no matter the time of day or year), and of course Glastonbury Tor. The Chalice Well would have been nice, but in some ways this is better since we will be able to just stay in our own private space, unencumbered by the energy of others. This is the last holiday I will have this year, so it is important to make it as restful as possible before the changes start to take place, and I get the feeling that there will be a lot of them.

I predict that during the weeks and months that follow, many more scandals will come to light, and not just in politics and banking - for as those on the path have no doubt known for some time, what we have thus far witnesssed is the tip of a Titanic sized iceberg, and if the bankers and so on think that their whole world is changing and crumbling around them now, they ain't seen nothin' yet. I include my own boss in this, who as an ex banker has been behaving  somewhat erratically of late. While I understand that much of this is borne from fear (he was a Director of the investment arm of a bank whose name I shall not mention during the years that marked the LIBOR scandal), it is not the easiest thing to show him compassion when he is shouting the odds and making your life difficult. Still, it is what it is, and no doubt his (and my) lesson to learn.

Nine weeks into the New Year, on February 18th, I go for my first holiday of 2013, to the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel. This time I am staying for 11 nights, flying out on the Helicopter from Hartland on a Monday and back again the following Friday. It will be a good to have an extended break after a long winter, and even better to have almost 2 weeks worth of lie ins!