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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Ringing the changes

A lot has happened as usual in the past few weeks, and sadly it looks as if I may be in my current job for a while yet.

Three weeks ago my CRB arrived. I immediately rang the new company to let them know, and it was then that they dropped the bombshell - do not resign until we have arranged your training. I thought this was slightly strange and alarm bells began to ring, but I held tight, waiting to hear back. A few days later I did - could I do my training the following week on Monday and Wednesday. The answer was, I very much doubt it, as I will be at work, and I cannot see my current employer giving me time off. Sure enough, they said no, so it was back to the drawing board once again, where I have remained ever since, growing more frustrated by the day.

In the meantime, the change machine in my current job continues to rumble on. I must admit that I am in two minds about these changes. On the one hand, having help at the weekends will be beneficial and greatly lessen my stress levels, but on the other, the way that certain of my colleagues have been treated is truly appalling and shocks me to the core. I can see why they are trying to do what they are doing, but there seems to be no compassion and no leeway for those who either can't or do not wish to go along with these changes. Not everyone after all can work weekends - one of my colleagues has custody arrangements to see her grandchildren at those times which have been awarded by the courts and cannot be changed, so she at least will be forced to leave.

With the consultation process due to end on December 18th, time is of the essence, yet the company seem hell bent on steam rolling these changes through. They have offered everyone who wants one, a one to one meeting with the Home Manager in order to discuss their concerns, so as it looks increasingly likely that I will be staying, I have arranged mine for Thursday afternoon. I have a list of questions which seems to be increasing by the day, the most pertinent of which is why are the Managers not being asked to work weekends when everyone else is, and who, after our own Line Manager has been made redundant will take her place, as no one else there understands the issues that us housekeepers face.

I am sure that it will all eventually come out in the wash, as things are rarely as bad as they seem, but no one seems comfortable or happy with this transition. Given the circumstances, I felt it best to seek advice from my Union on both issues, the new company and the existing one. They said what I already suspected, that the training should form part of my induction, and as such, take place after I begin work there and not before. I have then written the basis of an email which will be sent in due course. As for the restructuring that is going on, sadly my employer is not Unionised, and so they will be unable to offer direct representation, all they can do is offer advice, which was basically to be honest about my concerns and make sure that everything is written down and signed. It goes without saying that I intend to also make my own notes.

I am a little nervous about the meeting, as my experience of this particular Manager has been chequered to say the least - sometimes she seems okay, sometimes less so. I have to then hope that on Thursday she will have a good day. She might change her mind though after what I have to say. Such is life.

In the meantime, just over a week ago (was it really that long ago), we went to see my favourite rock group in the whole wide world - Sigur Ros. For those who are not in the know (what planet have you been living on), Sigur Ros are an experimental rock band from Iceland, who formed in 1994, and are best known for their ethereal music which in their own words, "plays the Icelandic landscape". Their trademark are the breathy falsetto vocals of their frontman Jon Pal Brigasson, otherwise known as Jonsi, and his use of the cello bow to play his guitar. It is hard to describe their music to someone who is not familiar with it, or indeed, is not familiar with their homeland, but it definitely has a spiritual resonance which is experienced differently for each person that hears it. This is heightened by the fact that many of their songs are sung in a made up language which is a mixture of Icelandic and nonsense, whereby Jonsi's voice is used as an instrument in its own right - you can hear and see in their music anything that it means to you, and for each person that is different.

As you can imagine, both Coran and I were hugely excited by this opportunity to see them live. As the big night approached, we booked a room at the Premier Inn near Wembley Park tube, knowing that it was a 2 to 2 1/2 journey from home,  and that we had no wish to leave early in order to get back safely. I also booked a few days off from work, in order to relax both before and after the show. I am so glad that I did.

To say that the show was spectacular was an understatement of one of the grandest proportions. One of the things that impressed me the most was how their music which although live, sounded so much like the recorded songs I am so familiar with - it is rare to find musicians who have this ability. The play list was a mix of older and more recent material with as expected, several songs from their most recent offering, and three encores. The drums on that last song could be felt right through my body - by the end of that piece every single cell was vibrating and it did not stop for at least 24 hours. I have never experienced anything like that in my entire life and cannot wait to see them again - preferably in Iceland, although I am not fussy - London will do just as well.

I am hoping go to Iceland yet again next summer - another reason why the situation with this new job is peeing me off, for the longer this goes on, the more difficult it becomes to make plans, especially when you are part of a small department and others also want their time off. We cannot after all have more than one of us off at the same time. Iceland has a short summer, and so opportunities are limited for me to get to the places that I wish to get to - namely, some of the wilderness areas in the northwest. This is challenging territory and isolated in the extreme, being well off the beaten track, but I have always loved a challenge and this is one that I would relish.

It seems then that once again I am finishing this year as the last one also came to an end - looking into the future with  reticence and uncertainty. I hope that by the time Thursday comes to a close, things will be at least a little clearer, but matters are really out of my hands. The only thing I can control is my own reaction to it all.         

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