Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mrs. Blobby saves the day

(nickname courtesy of the Middle Eastern correspondent on account of my occasionally feisty nature)

Sometimes it pays to be a stroppy arse! Having complained to all and sundry about the insurance claim they finally rang and conceded to payment. And the moral off this story is "Don't mess with me, La" as they say in my Scouse hometown.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Great start to the week...

another round of redundancies has been announced...air of doom & despondency has permeated the office. The other phrase which 'put the frighteners' up people was “If we get things wrong, we will have no alternative but to look at new options which reduce the company's ability to control its own destiny.” Productivity must have hit an all time low at that point with all manner of rumours floating round at work. The CEO had apparently briefed staff at another site the other day and explained he’d considered selling a couple of sites but hadn’t been offered enough dosh. He told the assembled masses if we drop below £110M income the bank will be brought in due to the T&Cs of the loans; and went on to say he’s going to cut management by 50% - which would put me at risk. Everyone's really unsettled which is exactly the converse of what’s needed…could do with people pulling their fingers out and actually doing stuff to improve the situation rather than sitting around fretting.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Rayleigh Choppers & Hong Kong Phooey

were the order of the day at a colleague's housewarming 'do' last night. Nice mix of people, ample sufficiency of food & booze, plus a great atmosphere. Mostly just the usual house party but he'd organised a quiz covering events & stuff from the 70s - politics, events, people, TV, etc., had quite a laugh trying to work them out even thought a few people I could mention got ever so slightly over-competitive. Only downside to the night was the introduction of Karaoke late on. I admit to being a wimp on that front. I'd driven there so had not consume anywhere near enough alcohol to even consider having a go....made a sharp exist when it was coming round to my turn.

His house is going to be fab. It's 1970s and needs loads of work but he's made a start and has some fantastic ideas...slightly retro/minimalistic.

He tried his hand at being creativite using jelly...bet you can't tell he's a single bloke.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Bl**dy Insurance Fraudsters

- & that's a reference to the insurance company and loss adjusters!

The Loss Adjuster finally visited today at lunch time which necessitated me coming home from work. We went through the claim details and she looked at the landing ceiling, taking measurements of the height and length etc. but didn't other with the roof because it was raining and she'd forgotten her camera. Fortunately I'd taken photos for my records so emailed them to her after she left.

Late this afternoon she phoned to say they repudiate the claim. They're basically arguing that the roof leaking is due to poor maintenance, and the ensuing internal damage is therefore as a result of that, so that are not prepared to sanction payment for anything! I was furious!! I've always taken out accidental damage cover 'just in case', and it's only seven years since the roof was overhauled & is clearly in good order. Needless to say I had a wobbly 'cos the builder's only done a temporary fix and it's precipitating down outside so the whole thing could leak yet again!!!

I've lodged a formal complaint with the insurance company but they can't progress it until the loss adjusters paperwork reaches them which will be next week due to the fact they don't work weekends. Paid insurance premiums of c.£500p.a. for the last six years and not claimed. So I've spent virtually as much on insurance premiums as the damage I now need to pay for. Looks like I'm on for a battle to get this resolved. Totally hacked off!!!!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Back to school

Parent/teachers meeting went well. Miss Sensible is predicted straight 'A's as long as she stays focused. If she gets the grades for her Maths & English this summer, next year she'll pick up Stats & Film Studies so in theory she should get 12 GCSEs, not to be sniffed at. However, with my other head on, i.e. helping the governors, I know that that is actually both a positive and a negative for the school as on the one hand they get a set of excellent results, but on the other they are unable to demonstrate that they have developed her potential from where she initially started. Talk about conflicting targets, yet both parameter's have an impact on funding!

The Work Experience meeting later was a farce. The careers teacher made it sound like one week with an employer would make a vital difference to whether the pupils got a job in later life - talk about 'bigging it up'! I wanted to heckle from the sidelines but Miss Sensible saw it coming and elbowed me in the ribs. Looking at the situation as a recruiter and employer I know how difficult it is to provide work experience placements due to Health & Safety, plus Criminal Record Checks, and if we can offer an opportunity, the chances of them doing anything which will really enlighten them about work is somewhat limited. My personal view is they'd be better learning more around career/Further Education options so that they are better equiped to make informed decisions about their future.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

That'll teach me...

I put my hand up to help facilitate one particular session with the local High School Board of Governors. On the surface it all seemed very straight-forward then I realised that although I read the broadsheets, watch the news and have 2 sprogs in the system I know 'diddly squat' about the education system. In order to not lose credibility the minute I opened my mouth, I spent hours devouring OFSTED reports, checking out the government targets, learning about the 'Education to 18 policy', Specialist status, 'Every Child Matters' agenda etc. and suddenly began to see the complexity of trying to run a school. There are so many conflicting requirements placed on the Heads it's a wonder anyone actually takes the job. Have found myself sucked into the whole thing and ended up doing a second session tonight and a third is now on the agenda for March. Maybe I've just got masochistic tendencies but I'm actually quite enjoying it...don't tell anyone ;o)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

1 Down

Packed up Strident Student and what appeared to be half the contents of the house and transported them back to the Steel City. Journey both ways was decidedly longer than usual however this was not due to snow but football...curse of all women (I can just hear the Middle Eastern correspondent telling me to "get a grip!").

I am pleased to report that student abode has been decorated over the Xmas break and is looking and smelling decidedly better, although methinks they have merely slapped a coat of paint over the mold spots.

Having divested the car of all the 'gubbins' I took eldest and two of her housemates to the local Tesco to load up on provisions. That was an eye-opener...had thought in these days of healthy living there might be more evidence of compliance to the 5-a-day guidance. No chance!!! Only concession was a bag of apples and pack of clementines! Best I don't think about what goes on when I am not around.....

Friday, 15 January 2010

Four builders, one decorator

visitations & three insurance company telephone calls later….I’ve finally done all the bits I need to progress the claim only to be told that I now need to wait for a visit from the loss adjuster…earliest appointment next Friday! :o/

So question is, now the guys have replaced the fallen slates, put the felting back and sealed the crack in the flashing so the drips stop, and the plaster on the ceiling will have eventually dried out, is the loss adjuster just going to say "what’s the issue?" *frustrated sigh*

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Drip, drip, drip

Woken by a loud splashing sound at 2.30am this morning. Bucket overflowing. Emptied and replaced along with a load of old towels to catch the excess. Needless to say I didn’t go back to sleep for ages ‘cos I was fretting about whether the ceiling might come down, or the water would seep into the electrics & someone could electrocutes themselves etc. :o/

So having not slept properly left the comfort of my warm duvet, dragged the others from their pits, provided breakfast & packed lunches, scrapped the snow from the car then de-iced it, and set off…only to skid on a patch of black ice less than 50 metres from the house! Missed a parked car by 4” eeek! Car then completely stuck…no traction whatsoever!!! Kids tried pushing, no progress, went back to the house and got Strident Student to drag her wellies on over her PJs and come to help…still no movement. By this time we were of course providing entertainment to the entire road so a couple of neighbours came out and pushed..bless! We finally got to school at 9am which was when the GCSE Biology exam was due to start. Just hope Miss Sensible was not too stressed by the lastminute.com arrival.

Spent the rest of the day on the phone to the insurance company and seeing builders (none of whom could be described as 'hunky' (mores the pity) to get the requisite three quotes. I'm reliably informed that the lead flashing in the gully where the different aspects of the roof join is badly cracked hence the leak. They've cleared all the snow from the roof so the drip's stopped but the plaster on the landing ceiling is completely ruined. It’s nearly impossible to get to the roof easily due to having a Victorian house on a hill so they'll have to put up scaffolding to actually do the work. Course after the repair's done it'll need redecorating...

I was bemoaning the situation when a friend reminded me of my Scouse Scally background and suggested I get home and put any outdated electrical equipment and non fitting fashion items in the way of the leak stating this was an ideal insurance fraud tap-in. You know, any Ikea rug is a Persian original - be creative!!!

Went off to the hairdressers later and in a fit of wanting something different had it all chopped off. Don't think I'll be taking such drastic action again...

Will there be anything else….?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Oh joy, we have a leak in the roof so there is a gentle drip through the landing ceiling into the bucket below. Only one word - Horlicks!

Life is 'interesting' as they say in China

Work-wise things have been a lot better senior management seem to be spending all their time positioning themselves for the future. Politics are rife and co-operation/teamwork minimal. Frustrating as hell trying to get things approved/done. Still got plenty of diverse things to do; a major grievance to deal with; small redundancy programme plus the performance management of the sales team and the on-going resource planning system upgrade. Problem is they're not really what I want to do. Kind of hope the new CEO is going to turn things around and there'll be something for me with where I am. Perhaps I’ve just become too comfortable where I am because I know so much about the business, it’s customers/ competition plus half the senior management but I feel I know what needs to be done in the field I work in & desperately want to make the necessary improvements. So far I've been held back to some extent by people who don't 'get it' :o/

So I tentatively thought about looking around only to be approached by someone I used to work with. I've been offered a role with a FTSE 100 company job as Head of Resourcing for a major Division, good money, car allowance, bonus, 25 days holiday. Decision whether to jump ship is difficult. I need to feel its right to do something but with my analytical/intellectual head on, it's a bigger more financially stable company, challenging role, opportunity to travel internationally and more money. On the negative side it would impact on the kids as I'd be away more than I am now so extra curricular activities may suffer for a lack of taxi. Lists of pros and cons normally works but when I get to the 'do I REALLY want to go' question it stays blank. Question is am I being nïave/daft?? Maybe I should sleep on it for a while and hopefully let the answer bubble up...

Monday, 11 January 2010

Sax education

Spent half an hour freezing my bits off waiting for Miss Sensible outside her sax teachers...brrrr. The good news is they think she's ready to do her next grade which she's dead chuffed about...& better still I get a new set of pieces to listen to :o) Although no doubt I will be equally bored by them in a few weeks...

What is slightly worrying is that a 14yr old is discussing how many UCAS points she will get if she passes. It's mad how the government policy on Universities has made things so competitive that kids are focusing three years ahead. I think when I was her age I was more interested in whether I could see the boys playing rugby when I was in my cookery lesson! (mis-spent youth) I do think there are so many things that make them grow up too quickly.

OK the novelty's worn off now...

Another few inches of snow overnight. School closed yet again so attempting to supervise kids whilst working from home...easier said than done! Got some respite when Miss Sensible went out sledging but she managed to lose her phone whilst on the slopes. Luckily someone had the decency to pick it up and was kind enough to not only answer it, but arrange to pass it back to her.

The Hills still look beautifully picturesque and the local main roads are passable with care, but anywhere off them is still un-gritted & pretty treacherous. I guess it's good news my meetings in Hampshire tomorrow are all cancelled/ postponed. Had enough of this cold wet stuff now...want to consume hot soup & mulled wine then hibernate please.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Trip down Memory Lane

Watched 'Letter to Brezhnev' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089477) today whilst trying to plough my way through the Himalayan mountain range of ironing. I can hardly believe the film's 25yrs old! I worked in Liverpool at the time it was released and have such fond memories of that period. I used to walk past many of the locations every day which made the whole thing seem real. The story line's a bit of a predictable chick flick, plus slightly naff at times, but it's great looking back on the 80's fashion and seeing the scene at the State Ballroom which is where I sometimes went to party, probably wearing not dissimilar outfits & hairdos (she says cringing). So much has changed since then...I've been back a few times and found the City's been totally regenerated with the development of the Albert Dock area, and then significant further investment having been voted City of Culture 2008.
And who'd have thought that Peter Firth would go on to be Harry in 'Spooks'!?!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Snow bound!

It's been impossible to move the car off the drive for the last couple of days. The snow itself was the first issue but, even once that had been cleared, I discovered the car doors were firmly frozen shut. Yesterday morning was spent trying to prize them opening using de-icer and hot water to no avail. Today brandishing a hair dryer a successful outcome was achieved, and the precarious descent down the drive (pictured) to the road completed. In the midst of this I received a text from my friend in Sharjah, UAE informing me he was fixing his mates pool in temperatures slightly more than 20º higher. Hmmm..not really what I needed to hear at the time...

Friday, 1 January 2010

The morning after the night before

having partaken of a few alcoholic beverages with which to see in the New Year a walk on the Hills was required to clear the head and reinvigorate the brain cells. Dragged the kids & mutt out for a walk up the North Hill from the Clock Tower - not too challenging and very picturesque.