Thursday, 18 April 2013

Funeral for a Fiend

This week has been one where the stories in the news have brought feelings of nostalgia, anger and sadness. We had the funeral of Baroness Thatcher. When me and RC were growing up, this was the most hated figure by the youth and working class in our country. When we were at school the boys all knew which apprenticeships they would take up at sixteen. They were the future engineers, mechanics, plumbers, electricians. Overnight apprenticeships disappeared and college courses for which you had to pay came into force. The earn as you learn way to progress into a trade became pay to learn if you can. For those of us who now had left school with no job lined up(unemployment was very high) we were forced onto work schemes. When RC left school 3yrs before me these were placements in non profit organisations, but by the time I had left this had been expanded to all businesses. This meant a business could take on a 16yr old and make them do a full weeks work with no obligation to train them and the best bit was it was free. The government gave you £25 a week, you were contracted to this placement for 6 months, you had to find travel costs out of this too. If you refused, you could not claim unemployment benefit. You worked a full 42 hour week which made it impossible to look for a real job, as everywhere was shut by the time you finished for the day. Some kids were treated like slave labourers, they were mistreated, bullied and given dirty and dangerous tasks with no health and safety risk assessments.
As a sixteen year old I was sent to a day centre for the elderly and mentally disturbed, during my six months I was left with deceased clients at their homes to wait for police and doctors, told to assist in laying out bodies, attacked by a mental patient who had a knife, sexually harassed by older workers and clients at the centre and treated like a servant by the manager. I was sent out on the ambulance with Peter, to pick up clients from their homes, Peter was doing community service for tax evasion, running houses of ill repute and taking money with menaces. He came to work in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce, I told my dad who my ambulance partner was and he was worried because Peter was a well known criminal who was known to be extremely violent if crossed. Years later he shot his wife and her friend when she tried to leave him. There would be a national outcry today if 16yr olds were put at risk like this.
I hated my time there and found a job as a nanny as soon as my time was up. A lot of kids from school didn't find work for a long time, if at all, the local dockyard closed and there were even more unemployed. All these young guys from school who had thought they would have jobs and trades like their dads were now hanging around the town centre sniffing glue or sitting at home doing nothing.
When I moved to the coast at seventeen for a job in a computer parts factory I was the only person with a job amongst a large number of friends. When I have watched tribute programmes to Mrs.Thatcher this week I don't recognise the country as they described it on television. I think if you were above a certain income then life was very profitable and you must have been either disinterested or unaware of what the rest of the country was going through. My father kept a bottle of whiskey for nearly thirty years waiting for Thatcher to die. The year before he died he decided it was wrong to celebrate someone's death and gave it away.
I cannot believe that after all the country went through, that the government were surprised there was resentment when it was announced that she would get a state funeral, paid for by the people. We have had other politicians and prime ministers who have achieved great things and do not get this treatment. I think the worst thing is that the whole funeral was planned by Mrs. Thatcher when she was alive. She expected a state funeral, pomp and ceremony fit for royalty and she secured a promise that her wishes would be carried out many years ago. It is wrong that at a time when we are in recession, when payments to disabled are being cut, medical treatments are being withheld because of lack of funds, families are struggling to meet the cost of burying their relatives that an extremely rich family can have £10 million pounds of tax payers money to fund an egotistical display of sheer class arrogance.   

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Moving Pipes and Dreaming of Sunshine.

The new boiler has been running really well now for a while and it was time for the inspector to come out and view the quality of work and check if there were any problems. He asked a lot of questions, checked gas meter, temperature of water heated, pipe work and typed away on his report. The system was working perfectly I was told but unfortunately the flue pipe that vents outside would not pass inspection as it was 20mm too close to the window. This means I will have to have another crew in to bore another hole through the wall in order to move it again. Luckily I was allowed to keep the boiler going and they promised to have it done by the end of the week.
 The crew turned up the next day, apologised profusely for the inconvenience and within an hour it was done. I don't think Cicely was too pleased as she was still in bed and the kitchen is just below her room. I now have to wait about two weeks for the inspector to pass the work, so that I can redecorate, as this boiler is a lot smaller than the last one.
  The weather seems to be trying to change. I have seen the sun on more than one occasion, but it is still way too cold for this time of year. The garden looks so unloved at the moment but there is no point in potting up any plants as it is too cold and we have had some thick frosts and freezing fogs the last couple of days. I'm usually working in the garden at this time of year getting a nice early tan.
 Still I have Malta to look forward to and can almost feel hot sun on my skin when I think about it. I'm hoping to find time for some swimming. I used to do a lot of swimming when I first moved to the coast. I would swim from our town to the next as RC and the dogs followed along the beach. One of our dogs, Max, was the worst swimmer and capsized a couple of times trying to follow me in the water. We used to walk miles when we were first together and arthritis willing, I am hoping for some epic walks in Malta. However, I will be avoiding anything that RC refers to as a short cut, as I would like to be back at the hotel before nightfall or the restaurants close.
 I am already thinking of all the preparations for our trip, camping after and anything the kids need while we are away. Once I have made up all my lists I will be lost in organizing heaven much to everyone else's annoyance. It is so nice to look forward to something nice for just us to do. I have constant butterflies, waves of guilt but mostly I am so excited, it's almost like running away together.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Planning a Honeymoon with Zombies and Vampires.

Having survived my identity interview,without being arrested or deported, I was ready for a long lazy weekend, to try not to think about whether I had passed or not. Friday I decided to go to town,to get supplies for the weekend,so we wouldn't be forced to tackle Saturday shoppers. I had walked the dogs and it was still quite early so I thought I might have a bath whilst everyone else was getting they're breakfast and the bathroom was free for a while. The doorbell went while I was in the bath and I lay there listening to the dogs barking wondering when one of my three children,who I knew were all awake,would answer the door. I heard the door open and close,after I called out in not so lady like fashion,for someone to please answer the door.
   When I got downstairs,I found an item not delivered card on the table, for a recorded delivery. This meant nobody had answered the door in time. The package would be unobtainable on a van,for the rest of the day. Worried that it may be notification about my passport, I went online to try to arrange a redelivery. They would not be able to get it to me until Monday or Tuesday. I didn't know if my stress levels would allow the relaxing weekend hoped for if I was anxious about this. So I decided to call the delivery office, to see if I could pick up the package from the main post office later, as it said on the card.They couldn't guarantee that if I travelled an hour on the bus to the post office that the package would actually be there, it could mean two hours travel for nothing. Curiosity was killing me, I had to know if it was about my passport. I told the guy on the phone that the reason I had not got to the door in time was because I had arthritis in my hip ( this is actually true). That the driver was gone before I could get there and I was worried that the package contained travel documents, for a flight I was on the next day. Yes, I know, I was weak. However the lovely guy at the post office promised to track down the package and make sure it was delivered the next morning. Lots of profuse thankyous  and I was free to go shopping.
  I told RC what I had done on the phone and he said,between laughs, that I was a very bad person. When RC got in from work that evening,he found a package addressed to me,in the porch. It was from the passport office, but I couldn't bear to open it and carried on getting tea ready. Later I did open it and found my new passport. It had only been two days since my interview, not 7-10 days I had been told to wait, just to hear about it. We were full of praise for the post office, getting it here so quick. The next morning the real package arrived, certificates for my daughter from college, when we looked at the passport envelope it showed it had come by courier not post office.
 Feeling rather sheepish but very happy to have a passport, I went to the travel agents with RC Saturday morning and booked our honeymoon. I am a bit shell shocked. I am going to Malta! I went into the clothing store next door straight after and bought a couple of things for the trip, to make it a little more real. I have terrible butterflies now whenever I think of it. My OCD will come to the forefront now as I obsess over every detail to make our trip and the kids stay at home run as smooth as possible.
 Bad mother guilt is already making me nervous. We have never left these kids with anyone before,apart from when I was giving birth, when my parents or sister watched them for a couple of hours. Arthur keeps telling me how he doesn't even live at home anymore and is more than capable of coping. RC's mum comes in every day and his little brother is five minutes away if needed, Ira keeps telling me how his friend's parents do this all the time and he thinks we should go. Cicely sees it as an opportunity to see what running a house is like, as the thought of growing up and moving out scares her a bit. The thought of never moving out scares her more!
 So roll on summer. RC is very excited about our holiday and has a long list of sightseeing trips already compiled. Sunday was a much more relaxing day, especially for RC who didn't appear until late morning and spent the day in PJ's writing the great Maltese Zombie horror. Whilst I,having finished the house work and in between dog walks, watched numerous episodes of Trueblood. I'm not sure RC is very impressed with my dvds, he kept peering over the top of his laptop as we sat on the sofa together and enjoyed some of the blacker humour but mostly was absorbed in turning Malta into slaughter central. What a strange couple we are.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Who Are You?

As Hubby RC and I had recently decided to have a long overdue honeymoon,I required a passport. This would have been a simple matter of filling in a form, getting a photo done, getting a friend to sign the photo and sending it off, a few years ago. Six weeks later you were ready to go. Not anymore.
   I filled the form,had the most awful photo taken( that scared looking, middle aged woman was me), found a responsible person who had known me for many years to endorse said photo and added long since forgotten documentation. Off I headed into the town to the post office. I didn't want to send it off with any mistakes,so paid for a "check and send" service so that my application did not get held up because my photo was the wrong size or I had forgotten to sign something.
   I have since had a request from the identity and passport office to come and see them for an interview. Apparently, some applications require you to prove who you are by being interviewed, so that you can reveal things only the real you would know.
   RC said he would come with me as the train journey would take three different trains.He had made this trip a few years ago, when he did some mapping work for the Police headquarters there. We left early as it was snowing and we didn't know if it would be worse inland. It only takes an inch of snow here to bring public transport to a grinding halt, sometimes. We made good time and managed to look around what had been a lovely medieval city,RC had his trusty camera with him.The shops were interesting and we found a department store that was closing down, who were selling off Le Creuset sugar bowls below half price. The purchase of this item was solely to calm my nerves before upcoming interview.
   RC needed feeding if he was going to have to sit around in a waiting room all afternoon. We found him a Burger King as I do not allow MacDonalds (a story probably best if never blogged about). I was a bit nervous so decided on just the burger but RC wanted the whole meal. He was going to "go large",(I didn't know they did that in England). But then imagine his joy when he found they also super-sized it. Curiosity got the better of him. With no ice in his giant cup it was like a bucket of coca cola.The caffeine and sugar crash would be a doozy.
  The walk to the identity office was quite nerve racking, what if I give the wrong answer?, What if I fail to prove it's me?Jokes about probably being deported to Romania were not helpful. When we got to the office I felt guilty, like a criminal. I asked RC in the waiting room if they would expect me to know my mobile phone number. He said that nobody knows that. People came and went and eventually I was called.
  The lady was very nice, but what unnerved me was the way she just nodded and said," ah ha, umm, ok," when I answered as though she was just humoring me. She took notes and kept circling things as I answered and then would click and scroll her computer to check what I had said. Most were personal family and relationship questions, birth dates,death dates, events and finacial banking stuff. One of the questions was about phones, mobile phones, such as what your number was. Obviously I had no idea. It's strange when you're nervous and you draw a blank. After answering rather well on names,places and dates to do with my first marriage that was nearly thirty years ago, I was asked when me and RC had gotten married. It took me a couple of minutes that felt like an eternity to work it out through house moves, childrens' ages  and then I remembered. I felt like an idiot. I know this. It is me who remembers this stuff at home.I came out not knowing if I had done well or not. I will hear in 7-10 days time. I told RC what I could and couldn't answer and he felt I had done well, then he told me he didn't know any of those dates. A good job it wasn't him doing the interview or a pizza parlour in Romania would be geting a new "Deported Chef".
   I wanted to go straight home, lucky for us as it turned out. We had a long journey and RC was contemplating a trip to a supermarket first. But we went straight to the station, RC did get coke from the shop outside. We had just reached our home town station when they announced the next train was cancelled, due to trespassers on the line. So we would have been stuck for hours if we had gone shopping. So now we wait for notification that I can have my passport. Then it will be honeymoon booking here we come. Fingers crossed!