Feedback Joys

I had a job interview last week for an acting up position ahead of a restructure. I didn’t get the role, for which I’m thankful, as reading closely made it very clear that it was a hugely poisonous chalice and a set of stresses that I’m glad I’ve dodged.

Why did I go for it then? Mostly because I did some soul searching and recognised that I’ve now been a lot healthier for longer than I was very ill – and so I really need to stop drifting so much. As a result I knew that I needed to get some practice in for interviews at a more strategic level than simply managing teams on a daily/weekly/monthly/annual basis for frontline services.

Applying for this role would be very good at giving me sight of the sort of questions to expect, and more importantly structured feedback afterwards.

In this I have not been disappointed. While theres always a stress involved in getting proper feedback that goes in at nitpicking level I was very lucky to have it done by someone not only that I already have a working relationship with but who is also invested in seeing me succeed and grow within the organisation.

It has given me both plenty of food for thought, but also reassurance that I’m doing most of the right things. It’s just a matter now of polishing those extra sparkles to stand out in terms of wider context of roles, a little deeper precision in examples, and not being too successful at hiding the steel behind my convivial smile.

I can do that.

Chaos and Gameplay


Monday night gaming has officially restarted, and now I’ve a small mountain of new maps to make in my downtime – so that should keep me out of trouble. If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. As with anything, the worries and anxieties around restarting it all were far worse than the actual event – which actually progressed the plot and motivations of the characters more than expected. It also featured a giant burrowing monster chasing the group through collapsing tunnels and an impromptu pub bard competition; as these things do. It did give me a good excuse to play a slightly NSFW YouTube video of the Wessex Pistols to my players as a soundtrack to that part of the game session, so I can’t complain.

I’ve also been picking through the tangled notes left over from a rather drunken phone call I received from a friend about designing a tattoo. These largely boiled down to a series of key words (presumably concepts to be represented), a very rough outline sketch that seems related to them, and a Latin phrase that appears to be based on the motto that Lady M and I used on our wedding invitations. This broadly translates to “I love you but you do sometimes irritate me”. I have texted the friend involved to see if this is something he actually wants to have done, or if sobriety and time have reasserted the status quo. Even if he doesn’t go through with it I’ll do some sketches as there’s the core of a nice idea in there somewhere. In the worse case scenario I’ll put it up here for everyone to see.

In the meantime, Charleesi is in the middle of her first week of college, and seems extremely enthusiastic about everything. She’s made a number of new friends, and I’ve been put on best behaviour to not wind her up too much about how one of those new friends is a boy and his name keeps cropping up in conversations. I may produce a bingo card of certain phrases and distribute them to friends and family to keep track.

The phone interview went, largely, well enough, but my rustiness on Project Management buzz words counted against me so we won’t be continuing the conversation in a formal setting. There was some very useful advice around structuring my CV, and about considering going back into contracting to get my feet wet again before coming back for another run. There’s an invitation to make connections on LinkedIn and various other positive noises, so it’s not as devastating as it could have been. I have some thinking to do about how to proceed from here however, especially with regard to how any changes would impact on household budgets and arrangements. I shall do my best not to brood.

Right, time to start typing up notes. Relative normality appears to be lurking on the horizon – how unusual…

Taking a Deep Breath


So, another weekend, a new start to the week about to hit me. I’ve not been blogging so much because there’s been so much whirling around in my head in reaction to recent events in home and work life that I really didn’t feel able to write much that would be helpful. While I’m happy to disclose various things about aspects of my life here, there’s a difference between that and rolling around on the floor ranting. So, I’ve focused on getting my head and heart back in the same place.

Well, that’s the polished and posh way of putting it. You could also just say my heart hasn’t been in the writing. This coming week has two challenges to face though, so that’s as good a kick to the motivations as any. The plan is to start back with the Monday game this week, and I have a phone interview for a job on Wednesday. I’m not sure which I’m more worried about.

I’m still feeling a little anxious from the last few times I went job hunting, so although the job market is in theory better than a few years ago I am really struggling to be optimistic. What can I say, I’m confident on so many levels when dealing with people and situations, but belief in myself? A little more difficult. Ah well, I shall put my best foot forward. The game tomorrow? Ah, that shall be the usual chaos and mayhem no doubt. That’s easy enough to wing…

Here’s to the fresh week.

Looking To The Future

I’ve wanted to get further training in counselling skills for a number of years. When I started volunteering with the Surrey Drug and Alcohol Careline (as it was then called), I took part in their training programme which served as an introduction to counselling. This only confirmed what I’d already picked up from many long conversations over the years in self-help groups and friends – that I seem to have a knack and aptitude for listening and helping people talk things through.

It’s an impression that my counsellor has confirmed across thirteen years of treatment – to the degree that she’s now helping me pick through the poorly documented and irritatingly diverse number of types of accreditation and training available. It’s proving an uphill and frustrating struggle, but I shall soldier on.

Back and Forth

It all seems to have been a bit of a flurry of back and forth the last couple of days – and lots of people in and through the house in the process. We’ve had my daughter staying the weekend, then a day away then another couple of days back while the ex has her kitchen floor replaced – and at the same time t’other half’s sister has come to stay for a couple of weeks – so its felt a little crowded in the flat

Fortunately, other than torrential rain yesterday, its been sunny so the balcony has been seeing a lot of use for reading and writing – the xbox has seen many a game of Peggle (and my daughter and I confused the sister-in-law-to-be (SiL2B) with Grifball game variants online – including Blarghball (Grifball with Elites) and Jetball – (Grifball with jetpacks) – which was amusing.

Cooking has been mostly retreads of familiar flavours and recipes posted here, though there’s a sausage pasta dish I’ll write up shortly that was pleasantly gently spiced and flavoursome without being overwhelming.

Today has already seen several rounds of “thanks but no thanks” from a number of job applications, and I’ve finally managed to get the blood tests sorted out for the diabetes review, so I should have those results to discuss next week, and hopefully my driving license renewed shortly thereafter…

Right, time for a cuppa

Fiction Fragment and some Random Ramblings

So today has been almost productive – between nearly breaking the hoover and being moderately amazed at the amount of hair that seemed to be forming its own ecosystem in there, through to prepping for tonight’s meal (chicken rogan josh), and transferring novel notes into my copy of OneNote so that I can crossreference all the weird and wonderful orphaned paragraphs like the one below:

The antiques shop was crammed between a motorbike shop and a dusty newsagents with its windows almost entirely smothered in small ads and posters for local events. It made for an interesting wander between bikes and cheap bookshelves filled with old paperbacks. The mess was so overlapped that I began to wonder if both business were owned by the same people. The entire frontage of the shop was open to the street, with furniture seeming almost to tumble out of the vaguely wedge shaped unit like archaic fruit from some alternative cornucopia of wooden furniture, books, records and other less identifiable objects.

and to begin to organise the ones suitable for the current novel away from ones that can be used for other purposes. Then it was back to wander across to the Authonomy website to re-register my account and work out my best strategy for updating the text currently lurking offline there.

Oh, and chased up a business who are being tardy in paying me an invoice and even made some job applications.

Must be why I’m feeling tired, and nothing at all to do with the mattress of doom that seems bent on wrecking my back. Or it could be that I’ve been cutting back on my coffee intake and so have only had one cup today, prompting my metabolism to cry foul…again…

New (Re)connections

Last week wasn’t the most productive on the writing front, mainly as I had my daughter staying over and I wanted to make the most of the time with her. There was a job interview on the Monday which wasn’t successful, and my first paid gig doing some basic support work for a local firm on the Tuesday morning – but otherwise it was a week of playing Halo, reading and generally kicking back.

This week has been a little more focussed, with some writing actually occurring – I’m writing up descriptions and back stories for some characters that meet sticky ends in the main novel. The text may not end up being used in the final narrative but they should give me inspiration for incidental details of their surroundings when I write their proper scenes.

The big impacts this week though have been some fairly “out of the blue” reconnections with people I either used to work with or have friendships that have been a bit long-distance over the last few years. I suppose if there’s one thing that these encounters have underlined is just how much has changed over the last couple of years for me as I seem to be coming away from these meetings with an extremely dry throat from reeling out all the edited highlights. Its also flagged up for me just how complex so many other people’s lives have been over the last couple of years, with each person relaying sometimes complex and frequently heartwrenching tales of trials and tribulations.

Objectively, some of these stories I’ve been listening to with a little voice at the back of my head asking if they’ve learned from these stories – others I’ve listened and had to make sure not to spool out my own worries and fears alongside theirs – and others have been heard with a rueful grin and shared sense of winning despite the best efforts of those around us.

Many of the tales have figured one or more person who has been a rock and foundation for their narrator – most have included some moment of self-sabotage – and all have concluded with a slightly dazed “infodump shock” moment as all concerned try to mentally update their mental image of the other.

Now to make sure that anything I use as a detail in my stories isn’t immediately attributable 😉

A sudden flurry of interest

Rather pleasing, though I of course expect little to come of it, but I’ve had a succession of calls from various agencies getting in touch about contracts for a variety of roles. Some of the calls have been from the usual suspects such as Eden Brown, to whom I have to give plaudits for sticking with me in the face of the near-miss and lack of feedback responses post-interview, while others are from further afield and we’ll see how things progress.

I’ve even had that rare but wonderful feeling of having two agencies contacting me one after the other about the same role, and the second agency (Hays) being on the ball sufficiently to have a reserve opportunity on file so it wasn’t a wasted call.

So we’ll see what happens in the meantime, and which part of the bank gets its paperwork in order first…

fun fun

Jobsearch Update

Another day, another local authority who interview and then won’t give feedback – deeply frustrating as how else am I to tweak what I’m bringing to the table? Its been a mixed year, but so far my favourite unhelpful responses have been:

Kensington & Chelsea: no response, then a month between first and second interview, then no further feedback and as far as I’m aware they still haven’t appointed or announced a suspension of process

Brighton & Hove: manager interviewed someone “off-contract” and gave it to them, no feedback on interview other than “enjoyed meeting and chatting with you”

Islington: “Thanks”

and today’s effort from City of London: a boilerplate “we have interviewed and decided to give the position to someone with more experience”

Funny old World…

Busy Week, Spinning Brain

Its all go at Ludd Towers, with the offer of an interview on Friday for a contract, deadlines for another couple of applications arriving, and yet another letter from the bank threatening court action, despite engagement with another section to sort out difficulties – so a wonderful case of left hand/right hand disconnect.

I’m pretty sure I picked up some kind of stomach bug at the weekend too, as I’m feeling decidely ropey even without the change in medication – so I’m trying to keep food simple and plain and not stray too far from the toilet if I can possibly help it.

Good news at least is that I’ve got small staying for the weekend, so will have fun with her increasingly dry humour, and hopefully some reasonably clear weather to find a park and take some photos – unlike last time’s trip to Box Hill which ended up in us walking through low-lying cloud masquerading as rain.

Entertainment-wise, I thought I’d break out Sins of a Solar Empire for a quick spin on the laptop to kill a few hours, and ended up getting comprehensively spanked each time. Its a pretty unforgiving space RTS that’s been knocking around a while and I may have to get kicked some more by it just to get to grips with its horrendously complex tech trees. Or I could go play some more Spore