Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Rough with the Smooth

Since my last entry I have fully embraced my pre-work life. I have been driving around testing out Simone, visiting folk and generally having a wonderful time. I could detail my every move, but I can’t be bothered and I don't think you'd be that interested. Instead, I am going to talk about 2 key topics- Costco and the M8

The M8

Last weekend I took Simone to Glasgow to see my cousin Esme. I was accompanied in this journey by the Glasgow savvy Karen, my cousin Malcolm’s girlfriend who since I have moved to Edinburgh has fast become a good friend. Now many of you may know that despite loving having a car, I hate parking and I hate motorways. I have only ever driven on 3 motorways in my life; one of these was the M8. Most of you will have driven on the M8 and will know it is a daunting affair to the unfamiliar. Unlike any other motorway I have encountered, the M8 appears to have little logic and is the only motorway I know of that has filter lanes blending into both sides of the road. As an unsure driver, one’s natural instinct is to go slow and get out of the fast lane. However due to the M8’s terrifying system, if you go to the far right, you end up turning off, but the middle lane frequently turned into the fast lane and you are constantly having to change lanes which I find is the most stressful part of it. However, what also confounds me about the road is that when you are in Glasgow, it seems almost impossible to get on it. On one occasion, despite correctly following all the signs, I ended up driving under and past the motorway several times exasperated that I was down below when I wanted to be up there when suddenly, for no known reason, I appeared on the road. I am convinced to this day I was beamed there by some sort of teleportation device. And am I not the only person that this has happened to. It’s definitely a conspiracy.

Going back to my original story, I was heading to my cousins with Karen as my navigator and despite a bit of tension, with her guidance we made it safely to Esme’s. However the next day I had to get back on the M8 alone to head north. I instantly missed my turn off for the motorway and ended up having to turn the car around in some stately home driveway (in Glasgow who would have thunk it?) and eventually found my way. However, I was then faced with a new problem- following the signs to Stirling. Just to mock me, the sign /road makers taunted me by constantly changing position of the lane I needed to go on to get to Stirling and I seemed to be constantly changing lanes whilst trying to ensure I didn’t miss my turn off- or worse turn off too soon and end up in some random suburbs with Glasgow ruffians. I thought as soon I got out of the main city things would improve, but alas not as there seemed to be never ending road works thereafter all the way to Stirling with a maze of cones and single lane traffic to contend with. I eventually after an accidental detour to Cumbernauld reached Stirling. I have never in my life been so happy to get onto the A9. I hate the M8 and I blame Glasgow for this hideous road. I hope to never again have to navigate this monstrosity, but know that because of the peculiar draw of people to the Weegie-land that I will have to someday. A sat-nav has been purchased.


On to happier things, my landlady wife took me to Costco on Sunday. I have once been to a similar type store called Macro (for some reason I thought was called Macroland which I think sounds far more exciting) when I was a young child. My abiding memory of the store was over sized tins of fruit and the doll ‘Pamela’ my parents bought me. Pamela was meant to be a life size child doll and even more excitingly she was supposed to walk! She was quite large and made of cheap thin, but hard plastic. The idea was you held her hand and she walked along side with you. However in practice all that would happen was poor Pamela would wobble slightly and then fall on you. Fortunately, she was not very heavy, but it was slightly alarming. Despite her not walking, I loved Pamela my life sized doll and along with Sylvia the ‘real skin’ baby doll, Esme and I would turn my bedroom into our ‘house’. The game consisted of Esme being my wife and me being the husband. I would come home from work and say ‘phew that was a hard day at work’ and then Esme would give me a fake cup of tea and fake dinner and then we would put our two children to bed. We loved this far from scintillating, gender stereotyping game until alas one day we made a grave error. We decided to give Pamela a makeover involving lipstick, eye shadow and a drawn on bikini with an eyeliner pencil (all with my mother’s make-up). She looked like a child prostitute. We tried to wash it off, but alas Pamela’s descent into the oldest profession could not be averted and our happy family game was truly ruined. You see, the sexualisation of children even affects dolls.

Anyway, the visit to Costco re-awakened strong memories in me and it was with trepidation that I entered. But what wonder greeted me- a vast warehouse of bulk buying of products you will probably never need! There were 10 of everything! The tins were comically over sized, the loo rolls were bundled together in unfathomable quantities and there were hunks of meat that looked like an elephant had procreated with a bull. It made me feel like a borrower. I got completed over excited and ended up buying a lot of things I didn’t strictly need including a box with 60 bars of fudge. The result of this is I now feel compelled to bulk buy- I mean why buy one of something when you can get 12?!

Right that completes my rambling. In summary- M8 bad, Costco good.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


So I didn’t get the third job I interviewed for the week I got 2 other jobs. Shame. Well, not really, I didn’t want it. I didn’t want it because the interviewers were terrible! I have had probably over 10 interviews in that last few months and I have come to a better understanding what makes a good interviewer as well as interviewee.

For example, the job I have finally settled on (Clinical coder for those of you mot keeping up) they asked me questions like ‘why do want this job’ and ‘do you think you would enjoy working in a busy environment’ etc etc. The interviewers then went on to tell me some very important things like my wage, pension and the times and location of the job. They finished it off by telling me exactly when they would let me know and when the position would start if I got it. However the property job I went for made me fill out an ‘optimism questionnaire’ first to assess my ego and I guess, optimism. Indeed. The interviewers then asked me inane questions like ‘what is your greatest achievement at work’ and ‘how did this achievement cause a change in the workplace’. And other such wafflily beauties that have no bearing on why I would be good for their job. Also, I then asked about salary and possible progression, I got such an unintelligible answer back that I still don’t know what they meant, how much I would earn and if there was any possible growth to be had in that job. So, yes, happy with the job I took.

And on the subject of jobs, I am ever more grateful of the coder job as I very naughtily didn’t turn down the SAAS job until yesterday. Now let’s think about this. I interviewed for that job on the 22nd December. I didn’t hear I got it till mid Feb and by early march I hadn’t yet even got an inkling of a start date. I know my references didn’t supply one for that post as I contacted them and told them not to, but no one in SAAS office chased me up and said ‘Oi references?!’ or anything. I mean in many ways, I should have continued the pretence just to see when eventually they wanted me to start. Next year perhaps?

Anyway, jobs aside now. Literally. I used to send 8 hours a day minus tea and ‘animal rescue 24:7’ aside and now I am free of that. So I did what any sensible person did and I bought a car and went home to test her out. Her name is Simone and she is a 2003 silver/blue Peugeot 106 with low mileage and a 1.2 litre engine. For such a wee car she is surprisingly nippy and my journey home was a pleasure and a delight. I then did a rather spectacular reverse park into mum’s driveway and got along side mum’s Toyota. I repeated with wonderful manoeuvre without assistance over the next few days *pride* Parking is not my strong suit so any sucessful manoeuvre is worth praise.

The visit was mainly focused around my little-big brother (i.e. older than me, but not as old as my eldest brother) Ian the murse. He will be ‘28 again again’ on Sunday (i.e. 30) but as he is going to a wedding that weekend, we decided to go something this weekend just passed. I say we, but actually biggest brother was in fact the organiser, only to be unfortunately pinged off-shore to Nigeria at the last minute and was actually not present. The evening was thwarted once again when the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed just for that week for renovation. Sigh. What to do. Well, fortunately my brother’s fiancĂ© is a wonderful cook and instead she put on a feast of curry. And I mean feast. There must have over 10 dishes, maybe even as many as 20. All cooked from scratch and made just beautifully, along with my mother and my maternal cousins plus partners, we had a delightful evening of total and utter curry indulgent and beer (mine noon-alcoholic as designator driver, sigh). It was lovely night even though most of we felt full to burst and the next day let’s just say a breeze was needed throughout his house to keep it fresh....

I returned from this jaunt back to Edinburgh via Pitlochery as because due to a series of events Cat the Australian wanderer and Andi the remote Fort Willy doc were both residing there for the afternoon. We went on a jaunty walk to find the mystical frozen pond Cat was keen for us to see – we didn’t find it, but I did locate a frozen puddle. We almost became duck killers when a flock refused to move out of the way of Simone and Andi was despatched to chase them away whilst been laughed at hysterically by Cat and I plus 2 grannies sitting on a bench who were also amused by this sight.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I also went to my friend Simon’s book launch in Blackwell’s last week. Simon has written a book about his travels with the aim of going to visit every place in the world with the word ‘mullet’ in the title. No seriously. He gave a reading of the book and then along with my brother and landlady wife went for tea. Niall is actually Simon’s primary friend and is mentioned in the first 5 or so chapters of the book which pleases him tremendously. The book is called ‘Up the Creek Without a Mullet’ by Simon Varwell and is available on Amazon. If you Google the author’s name, you’ll also get info about him and his blog. Interesting there are only 8 people with the surname Varwell in the world (fact) so this means ensuring you have the right Varwell is particularly easy. Right, plug over.

Since then I have been enjoying lazy days in the flat with no obligation to spend hours on the computer trawling for jobs. So what have I been doing? Well, I’ve being playing on the internet for hours trawling through Wikipedia. Variety is the spice of life.