6 October 2009 – coffee, tests and trying not to fall asleep

Temptation in the canteen

Temptation in the canteen

The highlight of today was when they handed out the pass cards. This meant I could get a coffee from the canteen at lunchtime. Dev showed me how to work the machine to put money on the card, which was a tad on the embarrassing side because it turned out to be extremely simple, basically just put the card in the slot at the top and the money in the other slot then press the button. It even takes notes, although I didn’t have any, but there’s an ATM at the other end of the canteen so I guess I could have got some money out if I’d wanted to. Probably best not though or I might have been tempted by all the cooked food, chocolate bars and cakes. Continue reading


5 October 2009 – the new girl again

The ugly brown building

The ugly brown building

Monday 5

My first day at the Mad House started with a weigh in. The slow march into new territory continues and I have lost another pound, I am officially in the lower half of the elevens now at eleven six. I don’t mind admitting I did a little happy dance.

In my usual fashion I’d been steadfastly refusing to think about my first day at my new job until I absolutely had to but, being as I was actually getting ready to go there, I couldn’t avoid thinking about it any longer. The general feeling was dread. For a start there was all the stuff about being the oldest and fattest going round and round in my head, then the stuff about not being able to do the job, not understanding the training, not retaining the information I needed to learn. In short, fear of failure and humiliation. On top of that was the horror of being back in a call centre, a job I swore I would never, ever do again.

So I found myself standing outside the big, ugly building looking up at all those floors of hideous brown bricks and glass. As usual, I was early, I’m pathologically ridiculously early for everything, so I stood for a while contemplating my fate. There was a huge temptation to turn and run but how would I explain that to Commando? In the end I went through the automatic doors into the foyer and gave my name to the man sitting looking bored at reception. Why couldn’t I have got a job sitting in reception? I could do that, no headsets there.

After a short while a young, incredibly beautiful Asian woman came out of the lift, through the turnstiles that stop unauthorised, possibly homicidal, members of the public getting in and shook my hand. She had a wide, wide smile on her face. Her name was Jas and she was one of my trainers. Actually it was slightly embarrassing because no one else had arrived, what with me being so early, and I’m not sure she knew quite what to do with me. Luckily, another early bird arrived about then. All my worries about being the oldest and the fattest melted away as soon as I saw her, she was, as far as I could tell by looking, older than me by a good few years and about the same size I’d been back in January, although way taller than me so she looked much better than I had back then. Her name was Kim.

There were six of us in my training group, myself, Kim, a dark haired girl call Emma (also bigger than me), Louise, a pretty blonde, Leo a bit of a joker in his early twenties and Clive, late twenties and a little too serious for my liking. There was also another trainer, Dev, an oriental looking guy who seemed a bit full of himself to me. We spent the morning doing ‘getting to know each’ other exercises, filling out forms and having our photos taken for pass cards so we could get into the building.

Jas took us on a bit of a tour, starting with the cafeteria on the first floor. There was an amazing coffee machine but, sadly, we couldn’t actually get one because you need to put money on your pass card for everything you buy and we didn’t have our pass cards yet. Still, that was probably for the best because there was also a lot of rather tempting food around. Good job I bought a packed lunch.

Then we visited one of the floors of the call centre. This was pretty much as I expected, rows and rows of desks, people talking into headsets, notices everywhere, motivational posters, big screens showing call waiting times and sales, a hive of activity. Unless you’ve worked in a call centre it’s hard to explain the sheer level of noise, all those people talking at once. I can’t imagine sitting at one of those desks or maybe I just don’t want to imagine. Thinking about it makes me shudder.

At lunchtime I went across the road to East Park and sat on a bench to eat my lunch. That’ll probably get me a bad name with the trainers because everyone else ate their lunch in the training room. To be honest I don’t care if they think I’m not a team player, I had to get out of that building. This does not bode well for the rest of my working life at the Mad House, half a day and I’m desperate to escape.

Then it was back to the training room on the second from top floor where we had a long presentation about the history of the company, followed by another about data protection laws. Having such boring lectures straight after lunch was probably not the best planning. I don’t think I was the only one who could hardly keep their eyes open. After that we needed our wits about us because we had our first look at the system. Jas showed us how to find an account, which seemed fairly simple, understanding all the information less so. There are actually two systems running side by side and you have to flick between the two. This was the point when I wondered if I was actually up to the job. When I stole a glance at Kim she looked absolutely terrified. At least I wasn’t alone in that.

When I got home tonight my head was buzzing with stuff. All that information just kept going round and round leaving me feeling confused and more scared than I did at the beginning of the day. All that and I haven’t even answered a phone yet!

20 September 2009 – Barcelona, what a city!

Casa Batlló, my favourite of all Gaudi's creations

Casa Batll√≥, my favourite of all Gaudi’s creations

As this is just a weekend break we wanted to make the most of the time we had but today was Sunday so we weren’t sure what would be open, especially as Spain is a predominantly Catholic country. We decided to head towards the centre of Barcelona and see what we could find. After all, the Gaudi buildings could be looked at from the street, even if everything was shut. If the worst came to the worst we could head for the beach. Continue reading

19 September 2009 – fear of flying


Ironic how much I hate flying

For someone as fond of travel as I am, it’s quite an irony how much I hate flying. Actually it scares me, especially take off and landing when I am usually to be found gripping the arm rests and holding my breath. I’m not exactly enamoured with airports either, all that waiting around. Why exactly do you have to check in two hours before your flight anyway, other than a cynical ploy to get you to buy overpriced food and junk in the airport shops? Continue reading

19 August 2009 – trying not to burn bridges

A coffee in the sun and a question I don't want to answer

A coffee in the sun and a question I don’t want to answer

Jolie asked me to work in the Gosport office again today. I suppose I should be glad of the extra money, especially as I’m not sure where it’s going to come from after the end of September. That office is so bitchy though, I have to spend the whole time with my head down trying to pretend I’m somewhere else. Today there was the added awkwardness of the job offer hanging in the air too.
“Have you thought any more about my offer?” Jolie asked when we had our coffee break.
We were sitting in the little triangular yard at the back of the office getting a little sun, just Jolie and I. There were only four of us in the office and the other two had gone out the front to smoke. She probably didn’t want to mention it in front of them. I’m not sure they even knew about it.
“To be honest, I’m not sure about the travelling,” I said. I know I should just have said no and had done with it but I was afraid to completely burn my bridges in case I couldn’t get anything else.
“You’re still taking your driving lessons though, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but I think it’s going to be a while before I’m ready for my test.”
“It’s no trouble for me to pick you up and drop you back anyway. No pressure, just let me know when you’ve decided.”

8 July 2009 – laughter, an ab workout?

Coffee with a friend

Coffee with a friend

What happened to the record breaking summer? Did I fall asleep and miss it? It was like November today, all damp and cold and dark. After work I walked to Alfie’s house and spent a couple of hours catching up with her and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She’s working part time too, although money is fairly tight because her boyfriend, Pete, is a builder and work is scarce right now, no one has any money so there’s just not as much building going on. Neither of us has seen much of anyone from Dream Factory and both of us wonder what became of Mary Elliot, the one who kept going into work as if nothing had happened. Continue reading

17 May 2009 – Race For Life training and Moonwalk aspirations

Actually by the river!

Actually by the river!

I did my Race For Life training this morning. I got up bright and early, got my jogging bottoms on and my new trainers and set off with my iPod in my ear, a bottle of water in one hand and my iPhone with the Walkmeter in the other. I missed training last weekend because I felt so tired but I do feel a bit better this week. I can’t keep putting it off and making excuses. Today I was determined to do more than just the two miles, no matter what. Continue reading

2 May 2009 – trainers, TGI’s and a birthday resolution

Happy birthday to me

Happy birthday to me

Today it’s my birthday. Now I know that should be a cause for celebration but somehow it doesn’t feel like it. I’ve now entered the last year of my forties, one year from today I will be fifty. How can that be? Fifty is SO old and I swear, in my head, I don’t feel any older than I did at twenty one. It’s only when I look in the mirror and see all the wrinkles and the extra pounds that I come crashing back down to earth with a bang. Well today I’m going to make myself a promise and, seeing as I’m writing it down here in black and white, I suppose it’s official. This time next year I AM NOT GOING TO BE FAT! Continue reading