Archive | December 2013

#131 (2013) Thank F*** That’s Over With

Christmas is over for another year.

And I’m quite relieved.

Despite a more restrained event it’s been the usual emotional rollercoaster of expectedness versus my inate desire not to pander to others wants for no other reason than that John Lewis demands it of you.

I kept the financial outlay to a minimum but as families don’t really understand the concept of not giving excessively (because there are no rules in place) not asking for gifts simply results in a lot of unnecessary expenditure on the part of the giver and guilt on the part of the reciever.

Mostly it came in the form of food parcels. We may not have a lot of money but we’re not starving. The resulting gifted food made for some awkwardly embarassing acceptance. I think we probably did better than some benefit families using food banks this year. And it made me feel bad. But I was in no position this year to pre-empt it with equally unnecessary gift giving.

It’s hard to explain to people who are used to frittering their earnings on unnecessary luxuries and name brands that you don’t want for anything and that not spending is a choice you made simply because you didn’t feel the need to buy stuff just because you could.

Gift giving should not be how we demonstrate our love for friends or family. It’s the commercialisation of Christmas by big corporate firms and retailers hell bent on taking our cash for profit that puts us in the awkward position of feeling like Scrooge in our own versions of A Christmas Carol if we don’t buy.

Getting out of that vicious cycle is liberating and a relief and I just wish I could make people understand how much better it is than getting the two new scarves I didn’t need but will be added to the 15 in the cupboard. Thanks Santa.

Have you got an amnesty on the mutual swapping of gifts at Christmas. Perhaps like me you read Martin’s Money Tips thoughts on the subject. And if you did, did it spoil Christmas or get you back to the heart of what the festivities are really about?


# 130 (2013) No Christmas Blog

There, did you see that? I didn’t blog about Christmas. I’m pretty sure your social media feeds are already bunged up with plenty of photos of various Christmas dinners and others complaining about the lack of snow\electricity\tv worth watching or too much food\storms\reruns of Star Wars.

So I’ll just leave you with this chap. Says it all. But don’t fear, I will be back before New Year once things have returned to normal in the Hen Coop. 

# 129 (2013) Does University Prepare You For Work? My View From The Flip Side

When I left school I went out to work. I took out one year to go to college but pretty much since day one and for the last 17 years I have been employed full time. They weren’t career jobs, but they were jobs paying good wages which gave me the money to do all the other stuff I wanted to do like buy food, go out, have holidays. Then in 2009 I decided to go to University and study for the career I really wanted.

Going back to school and not having to endure the daily grind for someone elses benefit was like a breath of fresh air. And it served its purpose which was to get me skilled up for what I wanted to do. I didn’t expect it to find me a job. I was building a business.

I have been out of Uni for about a year and a half now. And I haven’t done an honest days work since I left. The thing is, I’ve kind of engineered it that way.

You see, whilst I was out working, a part of the rat race, I didn’t know what it was like on the other side of the fence. I didn’t know about ‘enjoying work’, working to live rather than living to work. I spent all week longing for Friday and all weekend dreading Monday. We all have to do it of course. If you need a job you’ll do whatever it takes to bring in the pennies.

But I have absolutely no enthusiasm for full time work. I run my own business part time which doesn’t feel like work because I love it (every work day feels like Friday afternoon :-D) and I work from home so I don’t have to do the whole commute thing which gives me back hours of my life every week. I still have to do occasional part time and temporary contract work in administration to top up the bills but I will do whatever I can to get out of having to do it full time. My time is now precious. More precious than money. And 3 years living on student loans has taught me all I need to know about budgeting.

Even the part time admin jobs I have leave me time to do my accounts, blogs and research for my business. Because they are generally quite boring and limited in terms of actual work. 

The problem is that Uni is nothing like the real world. Even hardened full time employees like myself who thought they were doomed workaholics can be brainwashed by the student way of life. Where else can you find a job that gives you a 6 month lead in deadline for one piece of work? They say Uni is hard work but compared to what the real world wants from you, it’s nothing. And I treated my Uni course like a 5 days a week 9 – 5.

I got into a brief conversation yesterday with someone who is about 10 years older than me and, for whatever reason, has just completed a college course and is now at University. He said exactly what I have been thinking all along. ‘I’ll do anything to get out of going back to work.’ He’s contemplating doing an MA after Uni is over with, because he really doesn’t want to go back.

Whatever students may say about courses, it does make you complacent and it does kind of suggest that you should only be doing what you want to do rather than what you should do. There is a lack of urgency and I think a total lack of work ethic in general across Uni courses. They are not preparation for the real world.

When I went, I was surprised about how easy going they were about deadlines and work volumes and what constituted a grade. You could get away with not turning up to classes for a month and still pass modules. Of course, let’s just claify something here. I was on an arts degree. In the real world those jobs are not easy. But the study volumes compared to, say, a medical degree are not the same. So let’s just make a point that I’m not branding EVERY degree with my brush of doom.

We blame students for the lack of work ethic once they emerge from study status. But is it them that’s to blame, or the educational institutions which condition them to a life of study? As a mature student going back, I saw a whole flipside to the system. A whole bunch of issues that need addressing. Uni is the easy way out for some. It’s a great way to spend 3 years but it does make entering the real world a more painful experience.


I demand to know why you don’t have kids yet!

Love this. I’ve chosen to remain childless and the conversations are always amusing.

The Matt Walsh Blog

I try not to eavesdrop. I am a proud graduate of the prestigious Noneya Business School of Butt Out, Jerk. Yet, sometimes, I can’t help overhearing a conversation, and sometimes I can’t help but be intrigued by that conversation. Take yesterday for example: I was sitting in a coffee shop a few feet from a couple of women who looked to be about my age, perhaps a few years older. It seemed to me that these two ladies didn’t know each other very well; maybe they were coworkers or something. In any case, I tried to ignore them and carry on with the work I was doing, but my train of thought was suddenly interrupted when one of the women (Woman A, we’ll call her) loudly asked the other: “So WHEN are you two gonna have a BABY?!”

Woman B: “Uh, you know, we’ll see. Anyway…”

Woman A: “We’re trying…

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# 128 (2013) Commitment

There are pros and cons to being a temp in an office. One of the pros is that you get to avoid all the office bureaucracy because you’re not really one of ‘them’. It means that if I want to take a day off or I’m not well and can’t make it in, then I simply don’t get paid. As an official employee I’d have to jump through hoops and fill out forms to get time off or have to go through a ‘back to work interview’ for literally every day I was off ill.

Likewise organising Christmas holidays means I can just tell them what I’m doing and they fill in the gaps. If I was full time where I am now, it would mean I’d be working until half five on Christmas Eve.

The temp job I am in now was only supposed to be for 2 months, progressing to permanent if things worked out. But they’ve forgotten all about me and 3 months later I’m still temping. I take this back seat approach because I am not desperate for the money. If I was, I wouldn’t be doing 17 hours a week. Up until now I thought I was getting away with it but questions are at last being asked and I’ve finally been found out. I have to decide whether to take it permanently and get sucked into the system.

The job itself isn’t very inspiring, but for 3 hours a day what more can you expect? It is however, one of those offices with mind numbing office pecking orders and bitchiness. Thankfully I’m on the shop floor and not in the back offices where the problems fester but I do get all of the petty gossip for which I have no time.

So the question is, do I really want to go through this for a 17 hour a week receptionist job or go back to the important things in my life?