Thursday, 24 July 2008

Summer Hols

The kids are off and we're enjoying all this hot weather. Perfect timing as it started being hot the very day they finished school, and usually it's the other way round.

We're off on our holiday in the caravan to the West of Scotland next week so I will be sorting things out this week and will probably resume blogging sometime in September with matters of great intellectual and philosophical importance LOL

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Two Things People/Watch



.I think this is a good sort of challenge for me as I am a great people watcher but sometimes it can be a bit rude doing this.

To sort of give myself a dose of my own medicine I have put a picture of myself (lol) with somebody rather rudely just taking a mobile phone picture of me without my permission, which takes the looking a stage further. Angelina Jolie, of course, has to put up with the Paparazzi which takes People Watching a whole stage further and can be quite instrusive.

I thought of Narcissi staring at his own reflection, but that isn't People Watching but Person Looking. So I decided to do a picture of some young beautiful people staring at themselves dancing in the mirrors you sometimes get at nightclubs, which is People Watching themselves in a narcissitic way.

Living in a goldfish bowl is a saying which describes a feeling of being watched all the time, so here is the goldfish getting his own back watching the people LOL

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Being a Legal Secretary

I am going to keep writing about my jobs because, to be honest, I can't come up with much else, and at least it's something blogwise. If anyone wants to ask us a question, or even set an essay question I'm game, because it's better than the watching The Simpsons again, which seems to be on an endless loop repeating themselves, not that that stops the kids watching them. I used to love The Simpsons, but now I know all the jokes, so I am more into 'Family Guy'. If you want a guaranteed laugh, watch this.

Once I had quite a good job as a legal secretary. I will keep the name on my blog to get a bit of a revenge because she really is a little monkey and something of a madam, not that I'm sure she will be worried about me slagging her off on a blog in front of two people, and she remains blissfully unaware of this non-event anyway.LOL

When I first came to Hull I lived in Cottingham and got a job as a legal secretary for Gwynth Drury, Solicitor, Cottingham. She worked everyone really hard for £2.70 per hour (in 1993) while swanning around in a white jeep and going to Beverley Races. She also had to have her sheets changed everyday by the staff and generally behaved in a queenly fashion. On the other hand, she was quite feisty, and had taught herself law after bringing up a family, so I suppose you've got to hand it to her. Mrs Drury had something of a reputation among other solicitors in the area for being a bit of a maverick, and ran a very successful practice, mainly I think, by keeping the costs down. The very weather beaten sign to the practice hung by a thread and used to bang about in the wind. I notice it has only very recently been painted. However, if were to make a Will I would certainly go to her for it as you wouldn't get any cheaper.

I am going to suggest to Eleanor to go into Law as solicitors really do make a lot of money. I used to type out the wills. Basically this is just a template and Mrs Drury used to spend about five minutes changing a few words after a consultation and the typist did all the rest. As far as I could see, a lot of the work is like this, and for which the clients are charged disproportionate amounts. Sounds good to me, if you are the solicitor. I found it quite interesting typing out these wills, as it a bit of human interest. I sometimes did conveyancing, which is just buying and selling houses and is very boring, but again the typists were doing a lot of the work dealing with the clients and the nitty gritty.

I got married to Mark while working here and because his Mam also worked there in the Will section where she did clearing of houses, quite a lot of our furniture originally came from house clearances, which accounts for some of the eccentric mix of our decor. For instance, I keep my clothes in gentleman's maghogany 'tallboy' dating from the War.

I also remember sending everyone a postcard from my honeymoon in Scotland in Ullapool saying 'Cold in the tent and we are having to wear jumpers at all times' which for some reason people apparently found very funny. Also I remember being on the phone to Mark in the office at the same time his Mam was leaving work to come round to ours' and saying 'Your Mam's coming round. Quick, tidy the house.' which was also quite funny and made people laugh. I, however, was being perfectly serious. LOL

Mrs Drury is a little monkey as it were because she did that age-old thing of blaming the powerless staff for any mistakes that she had made. I once got called into her office for a dressing down in front of some clients about a mistake which she had made and for which she blamed me, the typist, just to save face!! Also, when she found out I was pregnant with Jack started making my life nigh on impossible by picking continuous faults with my work, because secretly she did not want me to carry on working there (even though she had previously thought I was a good worker, and in fact the £2.70 was "good wages for her") because then she would have to pay me statutory maternity pay!!! I admit that Mrs Drury and I had a falling out over this and when I got home I was desparate for a fag but because I was pregnant with Jack (and in fact had a textbook pregancy and drank Eisberg instead of wine and bought a twenty five pound computer screen to shield him from any minute amounts of radiation) showed supreme self control and had a banana instead. However, he still was born with something wrong with him. What does all this mean? Who knows.

The thought of all this obviously still gets my goat many years later. I am not a misanthropist, am in fact a sterling individual full of goodwill to all men, but I sometimes find it hard not to be in view of the low behaviour I often have to tolerate in others.LOL

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Two Things Work/Book

This idea for Two/Things came almost immediately because I have just done a posting on Lily and her laundry methods, which involved labour saving devices such as carefully folding slightly damp clothes on driers which then dried perfectly straight. I thought this was a very good idea (being essentially lazy), and incorporated this into my own laundry techniques, but then took this concept a stage further by fashioning a trouser press for my son's school trousers between two heavy encyclopedias. Disgraceful.

We have a lot of books which I like to read, but sometimes I like to get some work out of them. And sometimes I have to put down the book and work too. LOL

Thursday, 3 July 2008


I am quite proud of doing this as once I really did work very hard. It usually all or nothing with me, like I work my cotton socks off, or I do absolutely nothing. Usually I am only galvanised into action by money issues. On quite a few weeks Mark and I have done the equivalent of two full time jobs without any childcare, which usually involves complicated timetables and working at different hours of the day or night.

A few years ago I used to work 25 hours over the weekend, which was the only time I could work so that Mark could look after the kids at the weekend. I had two jobs, Lidl from 10-6, and then Jacksons until 11pm. By the time I got to Jacksons I usually just used to volunteer for the 'facing' of tins as that was all that I could manage, though I did have to face queues of people on a Saturday night on occasions. There were some rowdy people but fortunately I worked with a very capable lady who knew what she was doing.

The best checkout operators are always found at shops like Lidl because they cut the numbers so that there is a skeleton staff to save money, usually only two checkout operators and a manager. There is a continuous queue on a Saturday. Many of the girls are not academic but they are clever and quick witted and it is a tiring job so you need a lot of stamina and you have to deal with any manner of people, like the local friendly tramp who used to come in for the cheap booze. You have to be very fast and you have to memorise hundreds of codes of the fruit and vegetables and 'Specials' and you don't have the barcodes to swipe so you are putting in codes at breakneck speeds. At Netto I think they just do it by memorising codes and putting them in which is very difficult. I managed, but was not among the elite (they have computerised records of how fast people are, in fact I was way at the bottom) and to be honest quite a few people came back complaining that on their receipts it appeared that they had bought things which they had never even heard of. lol I did get into quite a lot of trouble for this.

In shops like Lidl there is a lot of rubbish but there is also a lot of high quality (usually German) food and there were quite a lot of discerning people like doctors among the shoppers buying Swiss chocolate, mulled wine, whisky or roll mop herrings. (Some people even bought Marks and Spencers carrier bags to put their food in to disguise the fact they had been shopping at Lidl lol) There were also quite a lot of people of the traveller variety, but not really many people in between. We used to buy the Swiss chocolate Christmas decorations and stocking fillers like socks shaped like animals with little feet, all for a pittance. We also bought quite a lot of cheap seeds and plants there, and there were 'Specials' in the middle which were an assortment of things and you could buy cutprice compact disc players and garden ornaments. There was also some very cheap pinky orange 'All Juice' concoction, containing the juice of a myriad exotic fruits, including mango and papaya for a pound, which I used to make the kids drink so help them get at least three of their five a day. Some of the contents of the food tins, though, were uneatable so we used to give them to the dog lol

I quite like doing a fast checkout, again it a challenge, and in a way it is quite exciting as it won't stop and you are pitting your wits against it. I don't think the checkout operators at Morrisons would experience quite the same buzz or high. Sad, really, that I enjoyed a thing like this. Sometimes I used to be moving my arms from side to side in my sleep in my dreams, because I had been doing it all day.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Cleaning Jobs

I have done quite a lot of cleaning jobs (and don't really worry about it, and anyway quite interesting as I could possibly be one of the most highly qualified cleaners in Hull. A claim to fame LOL) because they have short hours and are reflexible and to be honest I am not up to an executive position. They are also quite easy to get and I got this through someone at my kid's school. I will put on the names for one day but then take it off because it is not fair invading people's privacy. (just putting it on for proof, as it were, in case anyone thinks this is all a figment of my fantastical imagination).

I worked for a year for a lady who ran clubs for the mentally handicapped in Hull. I also have the greatest respect for Lily, and to be honest, did not do a lot of cleaning (the house was always spotless anyway when I got there) but spent about an hour of the allotted three talking to her.

Her daughter Diane was 40 and had Downs syndrome, which Lily turned to the good by starting up and running social clubs for the mentally handicapped and educating herself to being a spokeswoman and expert on the subject, chairing local meetings and campaigning.

She spoke of the fact that at birth she had the chance to give up Diane for adoption as apparently was quite the done thing in those days, but how she hadn't, which had obviously not made for an easy life for her. She said she was a beautiful baby anyway and up until a certain age she played quite happily with her brother and had a normal childhood until he reached a certain age when he started to leave her behind.

Diane had a busy life attending a special school and had had a platonic boyfriend. She had a special chair to sit in where she knitted and did artwork which was quite elaborate and which she spent a long time doing because she was very patient. She also was a Hull City Supporter (so she'll be pleased about their recent promotion) and used to listen to matches on the radio and had a huge collection of programmes and memorabilia and was quite a fixture at the matches where she had a special seat. She certainly knew how to speak her mind and told it how it was usually. She had an expensively decorated bedroom, wore lovely clothes and once I was dispatched to buy an Easter bonnet for her for an Easter parade.

I liked the house which was full of ornaments, brasses, plates with all the holidays they had been on lining the shelves. Also lots of photos to clean which I don't mind doing as they are interesting. I used to polish the brasses, another satisfying job getting the sparkle. Pride of place was a tapestry of a Unicorn with gold beads incorporated in it done by a lady to while away the hours while she was looking after her very handicapped son. Lily also a window full of crystals catching the light hanging on kitchen window which made for a nice atmosphere in the kitchen, which actually where everyone spent their time round a big table and had kitchen units in polished mahogany like living room furniture.

I had to clean and polish properly, using vinegar and newspaper for the windows, as Lily had very standards and I had to fold the clothes properly as she had worked in a laundry. She used to sometimes make me dinner and was an excellent cook and I once remember her making a bowl full of salad with grapes in. At Christmas she bought everyone in my family a present and some crystal decorations for our tree, and took Eleanor round all her talking and moving Christmas decorations.

She had a huge back garden, as she had a corner house, which I can only describe as 'like a bl**dy park' (which in fact I did) with huge trees at the bottom of it and we used to talk about the different flowers and bushes in it and watch a squirrel which used to come and hang upside down to eat the nuts on her birdtable. She liked talking about her life and the dogs she had had, like the labrador who used to follow her about and liked strawberries from the garden.

I really liked Lily and I think she liked me because she was always sitting waiting with a coffee when I came and enjoyed this job but stopped it because my kids were coming up to the age when they were going to the same school as her grandchildren and I didn't want them to be known as 'the cleaner's kids' in the playground which would be somewhat embarrassing for them (even though Lily herself used to refer to me as her 'Personal Assistant' , which sounds a bit better). Like my husband once had a job as a fitter but it was officially called 'Maintenance Technician' LOL

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Orthodox Judaism

I thought I would write a little bit about some of the jobs I have done because I have done some interesting ones.

Once when the kids were small and money was very tight I used to work as a cleaner and general mother's help for the local Orthodox Rabbi's family. I didn't really worry me doing a job like this because money really was very tight and Deborah (the rabbi's wife)used to let me do alternate afternoons and mornings, fitting in with my husband's split shifts, so that there was always someone to look after the kids.

Deborah was still only 25 but had four kids, and had another baby while I was there. She was very highly educated but had chosen to live this way and used to wear a special hat to cover her hair because only the husband is allowed to see your hair apparently. She obviously found this life very difficult because a sign outside her kitchen said 'Remember, whatever the day brings God is with you' which was the first thing she saw every morning.

Her husband was from New York and had presumably come to the distant outpost of Hull to increase the numbers. I think Deborah felt quite isolated and used to keep travelling to Manchester where there is a big Jewish community.

The kids actually had a great life and were very happy and were pretty much left to their own devices with each other to play with. Safety was minimal and the baby was once left unstrapped in a highchair from which he fell. Fortunately he was alright and Deborah had an arnica remedy for the bruises. This shows how very resilient babies are (lol) Sometimes I was cleaning upstairs and saw a small form had just scaled the the stairs on his own while his Mum was on the phone to Manchester. As I say the kids were lovely and very bright and Sara was obviously a good mother. I think if kids can come out of slightly chaotic households in one piece they turn out pretty good kids.

I used to iron the clothes for special occasions (there were many) and the clothes were expensive and elaborate. The girls were only allowed to wear skirts but this did not stop them tearing up and down on rollerblades. One little girl was called Dev-or-a leah (Hebrew for Deborah) which I think is a lovely name. They were very modest and I remember when some relatives came round feeling like a bit of a tramp because I was wearing jeans and had a bra-strap showing. They did have a tendency to start to talk in I suppose Yiddish which which they did on this occasion and I wondered what they were saying about me (lol). Probably just my imagination at work as they were always very nice to me and I used to talk to Sara a lot. Eleanor came round once to play with Devoraleah, because they were the same age, and they made quite a contrast in apperance.

I used to find the cleaning a great challenge and quite enjoy doing things like this. I don't know whether this is a foul calumny but my husband reckons that Americans are more untidy than the British (he was apparently told this by his brother who used to work in the Forces) and I used to see this at work when I used to arrive as there was literally food all over the floor as the kids used to wander about holding it and just let it drop. By the time I had finished to had all gone and was spotless. I (sometimes) like doing things like this, making order out of chaos with physical activity involved. It is very satisfying.

They ate very well and I used to peel things like butternut squash and exotic fruit and vegetables which at the time I had never heard of. The children had beautiful glowing skin and glossy dark hair, and their mother was full of old fashioned remedies like eating apple for an upset stomach. All the food was kosher and there were two separate draining boards and dishwashers for the meat and milk. I remember being worried because there was a very rickety cupboard above where I worked which was literally bowed with the weight of the dinner services needed for entertaining in the community, and spent some time calculating whether the cupboard could in fact actually hold this tremendous weight, and what action I would take if the thing started to collapse lol. I remember Sara once laughing because of my way with water (just sloshing it out of the tap) because apparently in Israel you would never do anything like that because water is at a premium. Lots of chicken soup was made and eaten (though I didn't approve of the kosher butcher). Pans of soup bubbled away on the stove while toddlers ran beneath. I think you must have a very strong faith to tolerate things like this (lol)

At Passover the house had to have a thorough clean for religious purposes so that it was totally spotless, cleaning the ovens with a toothbrush and cleaning all the skirting boards. Also I remember they had to have a special switch on a timer so they didn't actually have to do any 'work' during the Passover like switching on a switch.

I came out of the experience having the greatest respect for the family as the kids were delightful, though I did sometimes wonder if this was to Deborah's cost, and her husband did seem to spend rather a lot of time discussing the finer points of doctrine with his friends. I particularly liked the ceremony of the Sabbath when Deborah and her kids got together to pray around some silver candles to herald in a day of no work and family time.