Friday, 27 February 2009

Friday update

A job has come up in my current company based where I am but working for an American group - if that makes sense. It's not in my current department basically. Anyway it is a job that if it was with another company and I saw it I would definitely look at applying for it. So I've put in an application thinking that if I'd do that job for a company I know nothing about I might as well try to get the chance to do it for a company I know well.

After the last postings ramble the bottomline is that I simply don't like this limbo state. I'd rather things moved on so that I know when I'm going etc. so that it will focus my mind and I can get away from the distractions of the current/past and onto the promise of the future.

Hoping for a quiet weekend this weekend. Hopefully Mrs F will give the IT course she is on a rest as she is begining to do my head in with it and I don't think my coaching with all my bad habits is good. e.g. "How do you put a page break in?" "CTRL Enter." "Sorry?" "Only know the shortkey dear not a clue where it'll be in the menus etc."

Thursday, 26 February 2009

What is and what shall never be…

I’m in a bad headspace place at the moment.

I was reminded of something I read/heard of some time back last night.

“When I am giving someone a piece of my mind I’ll never find any peace of mind”

Very true. I was letting off about my current situation re the job and this was littered with loads of “They” and “Them” statements. I have to accept the situation, there is nowhere where it is written that the people who run my company have to treat me with any special difference to others. In fact my company is treating people very well in this process compared with many other companies. Also it is currently my choice to leave, I could do something about that if I don’t want to. Yes there are doubts back in my head as virtually daily the news is that our economy is nosediving into a worse and worse recession, surely if we see deflation in the next set of figures we’ll have to start calling it a depression. So maybe I would be better off with the devil I know get another year or two salary and bung another year on the pension.

But then the real crux of the matter is me. I’m lost in a fog. I have been for a while now simply not having sufficient motivation to get stuck into work. Many who read this might be lost by this statement but I have been fortunate in my career to date to have always worked where I’ve felt wanted, valued and where I have wanted to make a contribution and a difference. I’ve not dragged myself out of bed to go do a boring job just because I have to pay the bills. I have been very lucky and now I’m being really a bit choosy about it. I am it is true in a very good position financially, with the pay out I’ll get I can probably not work for a year or more quite easily. But then several times a day the panic thought of “Hell if I don’t another job soon what the hell will happen?”

Will it be good for me to take a break from working? I could try out writing the novel I’ve thought about. A pipedream no doubt as I’ve no training in writing and no idea how to do it, sell it etc. Work on the music? Again I’ll give you 20 reasons why that won’t work, I’m too old, my writing is too simplistic, lyrics are rubbish, my playing isn’t good enough etc.

I am very worried I’m developing into a very lazy person as well, I avoid things. I’ve always been a procrastinator but this is worse lately really. I want to hide away, isolate and not “turn up” with the rest of the world. I don’t like feeling this way but as the days turn into weeks with this going on it seems a bigger hill to climb to get back out. One of my motivations for leaving my current job is the hope it’ll be a stimulus to me to get back on track.

So a real quandary. Is it better for me to stick in the world of boring commerce and just do the 9-5 thing, get paid very well compared to many others and simply continue to oil the machinery that is the economy in my little way. Or do I take a radical step out and do something really different and challenging?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Fantasy Cover Art


See the challenge set at Colin's blog

With the exception of refreshing the picture page cos the first one was of two kids in a bath and I thought it just not appropriate the band name and album name aren't far off things I'd probably come up with myself... :-)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Book Review – Stuart: A Life Backwards

Read this book! Right there sorted.

Okay I’ll tell you more shall I?

Stuart Shorter was a junkie, alcoholic, homeless guy who lived around Cambridge. His life had descended into the chaotic of the long term homeless, the violent and the abuser of substances. However he did start climbing back up the greasy pole and got a flat, got off the streets and tried to get a new life. Sadly just about the time when Stuart was getting it together he tragically was killed when hit by a train. Whether he was trying to kill himself as he had attempted numerous times before or if it was just an accident we’ll never know although some evidence is left for you to draw your own conclusions.

This marvellous biography of Stuart is written by Alexander Masters who met Stuart when he was a voluntary worker at various homeless helping centres etc. in Cambridge. Pivotally they are brought together via a campaign to complain about the conviction of Ruth Wyner and John Brock who ran a homeless shelter.

Stuart lets Alexander into his world and provides such insight into the life of the chaotic homeless. Alexander works with Stuart on writing a biography of him, at first in an almost academic way which Stuart describes as “Bollocks boring” on first reading it. It is Stuart who suggests writing it backwards to explain how Stuart ended up where he ended up.

This book should be mandatory reading for anyone in modern Britain. Alexander’s attempts to relate Stuarts life to his middle-class existence and Stuarts insistence that this often is pointless captivates you. Also it is clear Stuart is a decent bloke who cares about others and is a genuine guy so you also want to know how it got to where it did.

This book has it all, belly laughs at some of Stuarts observations on life, bewilderment at how the system we put in place as a society to help these unfortunates seems to continually screw it up so that they cannot escape the cycle they are in, shock at how he as a child was abused by friends, family and those who were supposed to helping him, fear at the level of violence and damage to yourself a person who has had their soul crushed can perpetrate and finally tears when you realise, despite his violent outbursts and criminal tendeancies, this lovely man was so cruelly snatched from the world too early.

At times this book can be hard reading with very strong language and graphic, blunt descriptions of key events in Stuarts life however I do urge you to read it, it is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Mark Haddon is quoted on the cover as saying “Bollocks brilliant”. I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Priest Feast

Son-of-Futheron and I went to the Priest Feast at Wembley Arena on Saturday. Firstly, excellent value for money. The show started at 6:30 and finished 10:30. First up were Testament, who I have to be honest I know little about, remembering them a bit from the old days. Alex Skolnick having recently returned to the line up – they are back to pretty much the “classic” Testament line up and put out an album for the first time in some years. Basically Skolnick is a stunning guitarist but the mix on the night let him down with much of his shredding lost in a bass/drums heavy mix.

Next up – Megadeth. This was a pretty typical Megadeth set played very fast. S-o-F remembered an interview where Dave Mustaine said he intended to fit 2 hours of material into a 1 hour set and Download and it did feel a little like that at times on Saturday. Latest guitarist through the ever revolving door that is side man to Dave M is Chris Broderick who was pretty impressive, although to be honest I thought him maybe too much like Glen Drover who departed last year, however maybe my issue here is that Marty Friedman was the top guy in Megadeth for many years and maybe I just hanker after him being back.

Judas Priest! So I first saw Priest at Hammersmith around the Unleashed in the East tour and remember it being frankly a bit of a shambles of a performance actually. Gladly this wasn’t the case this time around. It was all very Spinal Tap at times which is partly Priests trademark, at one point Lord Halford of metal was wheeled out through the dry ice sat in a huge throne. And the bike was there for the encore of Hell Bent For Leather. A pretty classic Priest set with a couple of good quality numbers of the epic latest Nostradamus album, which is quiet good but overly long and ridiculously contrived (but again that is no doubt the point). Even Green Manalishi was stomped through in Priest manner reminding me that they also made me as a teenager realise Fleetwood Mac was far more than just the Rumours album and Albatross and led to my discovery on the masterful Peter Green.

KK Downing and Glenn Tipton frankly have written more chapters that they have disgarded on how to play twin lead metal than most people will have read in their lives. Some of the classic harmony twin leads just were brilliant and made me wish that there were new bands out there taking that on somewhere – remember Lizzy, Wishbone Ash etc. Now if a band has two guitarists it seems to be a duel over who can sweep pick of tap the fastest. Also particularly Glenn Tipton is a master of tone – his sound on Saturday was excellent throughout. Over the top of this (pun intended) is Halford’s voice, he still has one of the best and most distinctive metal voices ever, and can still hold his own in that department.

Great night all round.

Welsh break

We are back from the Welsh trip. It was a nice break away and good to see Son-of-Furtheron again. We all piled into his student flat when we arrived and demanded cups of tea, the women were appalled at the state of the kitchen and went into cleaning frenzy mode. All very funny.

We visited Bwlch Nant yr Arian which is a Welsh Forestry Commission site noted for it's Red Kite population and we got to see loads of these majestic birds close up. We also visited Aberaeron which has already become one out favourite places to visit... esp the tea shop and the Welsh Cakes!

We got to meet and have a meal with Girlfriend-of-Son-of-Furtheron. Lovely girl who has clearly got the measure of our boy... "Oh it's just food, guitars and occasional geeky Physics with him." Spot on!

All too soon we were on the journey back which given we were crossing the Dartford bridge at 8 o'clock in the evening I thought it'd be reasonable. Oh No - 7 miles of jams and nearly an hour stuck there. Madness!

Saturday S-of-F and I went to see Judas Priest at Wembley... gig report to follow.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Book Review - Requiem Robyn Young

Requiem is the last in the trilogy about Will Campbells life as a Kight Templar. This is Robyn Youngs first series of books as an author and she's gone straight into the best seller list with them all.

As a book on its own it probably doesn't work as it dives into the story line where book 2 left off and a lot of references to previous events would leave you lost I think. So if you've not read these before start with Crusade then The Bretheren before reading Requiem.

The book is very engaging making you want to follow the lives of the various main characters with our hero Will at the very center of the action. This book starts a little after the second book finished which was with the sacking of Acre in 1291 by the Mameluk army. The first book in the series was of Wills early life mostly in Europe as he joined the Temple and struggled to find his place in it. The second book was much more based in the Middle East with Will as a fully fledged knight within the Temple. So now with the last stronghold in the Holy Land lost the focus switches back to Europe.

Will is of Scotish descent and the narrative weaves in a lot about the stuggle of the Scotish at this time against Edward I who continually fought and conived to put Scotland under English control. The wars with William Wallace and later Robert Bruce are brought out here. Given I'd been intrigued by this time in Scotish history via Neil Olivers recent BBC2 series this was an interesting side of the book for me.

Anyway the one problem with the story is that we know the outcome - i.e. in 1312 the Knights Templar were disgraced, discredited and disbanded in an alliance between King Philip of France and Pope Clement V. However the story here weaving in Ms Youngs fictional subplots around the known historical facts still makes the thing a hard to put down page turner.

Focus forward but still time for reminiscing...

I had my day in London yesterday I met up with my friend who works in a recruitment company, although we probably spent too much time talking about family, personal and mutual friends than focusing on the matter in hand... i.e. are there any bloody jobs about :-) Anyway she has mentioned me to one client who has talked about a job coming up that sounds plausible suitable for my experience and I've had another go at a CV rewrite for that.

I met the outplacement guy who was very nice and outlined the options available to me, I need to book up on some of the courses etc. which might be useful for me. A friend pointed out a job local to me which again looked somewhat suitable, in fact a logical promotion opportunity from my current role so my hastily revamped CV is now in the internet ether for that as well as the closing date was end of this week and I'm off to Wales now to see Son-of-Furtheron for the next few days.

Anyway the outplacement company's offices are right in the middle of the City and it has been years since I was around there. I was amazed at the number of building sites and all my old drinking haunts are closed / pulled down. Probably a good thing but it was a reminder of the dark days of my youth when I last worked there.

Friday, 13 February 2009

So long and thanks for all the fish

I was told today I've not got the one job I had applied for within the contracting department. I knew that was most likely to be the case, I'd been rejected on 3 other occasions in the past as well.

Monday I'm off to meet the company who run our "outplacement" service to discuss my CV, experience etc. Wednesday we're off to Wales to see our son for a day or so and so he can come back with us for me and him to go to see the Priestfiest at Wembley with Judas Priest and Megadeth. Some good stuff that will hopefully relieve some of the pressures of the moment.

Whilst I'd made the decision to move on once it is actually in your face suddenly your guts turn over.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

2009 not so good so far frankly…

2009 has so far presented itself as already a year I’d rather not dwell on, given we’re only just half way through February that isn’t so good but that is currently the long and the short of it.

As you know the beginning of the year was heralded with a sequence of tragic news, my Dad’s cousins passing (she was 94 and for that we should be grateful), a friend lost her brother very suddenly (same age approx as me), death of a young girl we knew (extremely sad), another friend’s tragedy with losing her sister and brother-in-law and her Mum injured in a house fire… and so it continued, and indeed continues to continue as another friend has lost his Dad in the last week only months after his Mum sadly passed away. All very sad.

The news has generally been rubbish, the recession/downturn/depression (whatever it now is), the Gaza conflict, blah blah blah, only good thing was the American election being over and Obama making good on some of his promises early. However I’m not sure on his economic recovery package, these injections of large capital into projects have only at best partially worked in the past but I think even the greatest minds are stumped at our ability to screw up an economic system which is surely by definition totally under human control yet singularly fails to appear so.

On a personal note obviously the news in the last week hasn’t been the best thing for me either. However there are others at my work who I have to look at and thank my lucky stars I’m not in their shoes, I don’t have any major debt, my payoff will be good, I get an assistance package in looking for new opportunities etc. etc. Much to be grateful for. There are others with big mortgages, limited to living close to our site which is really in an area with little similar employment chances. I live some 40miles away and that puts me firmly in “commuterville” for London. People with very young families etc. Some old colleagues who have climbed the greasy pole in our company have relocated to the USA now some of those do not yet have their “green cards” so they have only 4-6weeks to get out of USA back to the UK before they are deported. They have partners, kids at school, houses to sell in the appalling USA market. I’m very glad when the opportunity to head for the USA was in front of me I made the decision to turn away despite sometimes in the past regretting that.

So I’m trying to take hold of the situation and consider it all through. I’ve looked at the opportunities available to me. I’m in a position where I can honestly be a little picky really. Virtually all the jobs posted are things I’ve done in some other guise over the last 10 years – so why do them again? How will that help my CV? Answer – not very much. One of those jobs in a new industry sector would help as it’d show versatility and adaptability which would be good. So apart from one outstanding option which would bizarrely given the whole reason this is happening (i.e. reduction of staff due to continued pressure on budgets etc.) give me a promotion I’m pretty much set on departing now and looking for new opportunities.

Some of my friends are saying I should become a guitar teacher but my negative head as ever points out my defects in terms of my theoretical knowledge and lack of paper qualifications for such a thing. However the passion would be reignited in something I’d love to do, so maybe I shouldn’t dismiss it so readily.

Then add to that England at cricket (groan), football (bigger groan), rugby… silence. I await Liz of Finding Life Hard to no doubt write an excellent piece on Sunday or Monday next week on how Wales take England to pieces at Cardiff this weekend.

Oh yes this year must have something seriously wrong with it… Gillingham are fighting for promotion… Promotion?! No – this is like Dallas I’ll wake up in a moment and it’ll all have been a dream… :-)

I did buy a PRS - did I mention I'd bought a PRS? :-)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

On Camber Sands



My attempt at my version of Gordon Giltraps On Camber Sands... ignore the mistakes please - I get terrible "red light nerves".

Friday, 6 February 2009

That was a week that was...

This week is drawing to a close. God it seems likes months ago it was last weekend really so much has been happening.

Firstly the snow happened Sunday night. Mrs F and D-o-F took ages to get home from swimming club and I had to skid the car onto the drive. So Monday morning get up and I decided to not even attempt to get to work. We had about 6inches by then. Schools were shut so we were all at home. Monday night I dug out the drive after another relentless afternoon of snow.

Tuesday - we're on a slope and simply but I can see the road that is a bus route and gritted but there was no way I was attempting to back out off the drive and try to slide to the bottom of the hill avoiding all the other cars, lampposts etc. So another day at home, kids cheering and wife cheering as schools were confirmed shut a second day. (I might post more on that topic if I can be arsed at some other point). 10am my boss phoned me with a call I'd expected for a couple of weeks, I was told my "role was eliminated" and I was "at risk of compulsory redundancy". I knew it was coming but - ouch - it hurts when it is confirmed. So I went and dug out the snow on the road and paths so we could get out of our road and went shopping for the rest of that day.

Since then the week has been one of very mixed emotions. Now remember I don't do emotions - I don't like them, they perterb me, good and back emotions... I repeat I don't do emotions...! So it's been difficult for me. But here is where I am.

There are some jobs at my current employer that I can apply for. However I in a turmoil over that, they are all roles I've sort of done in the past and not really any kind of challenge in many ways. Also this is just this wave, the next is already in the offing as my company has announced a massive aquisitions with tens of thousands of potential job loses as a result of that likely within the year. The current severance package is enhanced and may well go down significantly in the summer. So fight for a job that I may not like only to be made redundant this time next year on less money. I know that is a negative view but you have to ponder it don't you? The other option is sit on my hands, take the package which is good, take all the help, including a 6 month executive outplacement scheme (sounds grand doesn't it?) and stop living in the past and live in a new place with new motivations.

So I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend - sometime to think a bit and maybe get my head straighter than it currently is.

Many thanks to all for the personal contacts over the week. Much appreciated.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Redundant

Small word. Lots and lots of consequences.

Oh well - time for me to recreate myself as someone that others might want to employ and move on into a new chapter of life.

Sunday, 1 February 2009