City Link

Sometimes it’s odd how things work out.  On Christmas Day, the courier group City Link announced they were going into administration. There’s still  lot of ongoing fallout, and unions wazzing on about how City Link are still a viable concern – because of course, who would know better than a fucking union?

Anyway, as I said, it’s odd how things work out.

A year or so ago, I interviewed with City Link to do a long-term contract in order to boost their website and on-line presence in a number of ways. It was a very cool job, and normally I’d have jumped at it. Indeed, I was offered it – but the downside was that it would’ve involved commuting round the worst section of the M25 on a daily basis – and that was what persuaded me to not take it.

Yes, sure, it would potentially have been a good year’s work and so on. But the revamped stuff hasn’t yet been released – and now looks like it never will be. So it would be pretty difficult, when now looking for something new on zero notice, to say “I did [x], but you can’t see it because they never released it”

All told, even with the way 2014 worked out on the shit-jobs front, I’m pretty glad I didn’t take on that one…


Every so often, you have a day where you feel like everything’s actually pretty good, pretty organised, pretty nailed down.

For me, today’s been one of those days – and indeed, a lot of this week has felt like that.  Of course, some cynicism says that this is just the precursor to a failure of epic proportions, but for now I’ll take the little victories.

It’s been a week where things have felt sorted and settled – I’ve been able to get things done on/for the house that’ve been waiting ages to be done, I’ve started organising things for January when the current contract (currently) expires (and I’ve even got a phone interview on Monday for something else straight afterwards, as well as another one already showing interest) and the finances are pretty much stowed away too.

And along the way, I’ve somehow also managed to now sort out all but one thing for the Festering Season – and that one outstanding one is just a case of not having even the slightest inkling of what to do/get. I’m not actually sure how that’s happened, but I’m not going to complain.  Hell, I’ve even managed to organise and decide upon a couple of birthday things for people for next year, which is downright shocking.

Today’s been more of the same. The next week or so is pretty busy what with one thing and another, so I’ve been organising some bits of life around that, and that’s all working out nicely too.

All told, it’s just been a positive day – indeed, a pretty positive week – and yes, I feel that’s worth noting after some of the shit that’s occurred this year.

Slightly Quiet – the Reasons

I’ve written many times about depression and how it affects me – although at the same time I realise that I don’t actually write about its effects on me, and I rarely (if ever) write about it at the time it’s all happening.

If I’m honest, this post isn’t going to change that status quo, I’m afraid.

I’m truly, truly awful at asking for help, and even at saying “No, I’m not doing well”. I go quiet, curl in on myself, and fight through it, being the only person I know I can rely on. I guess I’ll never really be an open book, it’s just not in my nature. I like to think I’m open, that people who truly know me should/would know what’s going on in my head, but I know that’s not the case. In many ways I am open, there’s very little I won’t disclose or talk about. But – ah, that infamous ‘but’ – I don’t disclose it at the right time, at the time of need. Afterwards, and with hindsight, yup. But at the time? Nope.

So – the last six months here haven’t been overly fun. It’s mostly been work-related, but that’s then had knock-on effects into every other aspect of life, which is never a good thing.

I’ve been more aware this year of my work instability, it’s been very much a year of ups and downs – and more downs than ups, by a significant margin. With everything else, I thought I’d aim at permanent roles rather than contracts, but the two perm roles I’ve had this year have been utter, absolute dogs. Roles and situations I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. (In balance, I’ve also had a contract that was one of the worst and dullest in recent memory, so it’s not been a good year all round)

The first of the perm roles lasted exactly three weeks. I knew within a couple of days that it was a dog (the interview whanged on about how positive everyone was, and within those two days, I knew that was a sack of shit, as was the product they were working on)  I left and quickly moved on to Job Two, which turned out to be even more of a dog – although this time because of the owner, rather than the work itself. The work was grand, the owner was (is) a cunt. I won’t talk about it, because there’s a lot of legal tat still ongoing. Safe to say, signifcant dollops of broken employment law, disregard for Working Time Regulations, Contracts, and many many other things.

More than anything else, it was Job Two that burned me out, and pushed me further down the slope. It’s not been a good year anyway, but that job was the final shove.

I left there at the end of September, once I’d been paid. I didn’t have anything to go to, didn’t even have any applications or interviews lined up. I just knew I needed to be out. Even with my experience of interviews and so on, knowing there’s no safety blanket makes that a pretty nerve-jangling decision.

It took me two weeks to get a new job, that was all. I’ve been ridiculously lucky, and the new contract seems like it’ll be OK – I’m two weeks in, and it seems to be going well.

All this is most of why I’ve been quiet for the last few months.

I’m hoping that things will start their slow build back to normality – or at least my usual approximation of it – and that things here will come back too. We’ll see.

Changes (Once Again)

At the end of September, I quit my job with nothing to go to. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks – and it’s hard to believe it’s only been a couple of weeks. Anyway.

I mentioned it earlier this month, but haven’t said a great deal in the meantime.

When I handed in my notice, it was with immediate effect. The company in question – well, it hadn’t been fun. Being underpaid by 20% didn’t enamour them to me – and that’s a situation that’s still outstanding – but despite that, they still assumed I would continue to work all hours in order to bring their badly-timed and shitly-specced projects in on time. Indeed, I say ‘assumed’, but it was actually expectations – with real shock when I would have a life outside of work, and wouldn’t be available to keep their arses out of the flames yet again.  The additional fact of not having a contract provided the seal on things.

I did get a contract in the end – one day before I left, and certainly well after the 8-week limit.  Happily, it was breached and invalid immediately, because they’d written the original offer salary on it, which hasn’t been paid at all in the three-and-a-bit months I was there. Oops.

I left with immediate effect, and with nothing to go to.  Not necessarily my wisest move, and not necessarily one I’d choose to make again. I had a bit of confidence from my previous history with interviews and contracts, but all the same that confidence could’ve been a real kicker if I wasn’t careful.

As it is, that hundred-percent interview success rate is now gone – although not by much.

I had two unsuccessful face-to-face interviews – which didn’t disappoint me. For the first, the commute would’ve been at least 90 minutes each way. Great for the whole “unemployed for two days”, less great for energy, sanity, or having a life.  For the second, it was based in London, and the evidence afterwards is that it wouldn’t have been right – I would’ve been offered it, but the company in question U-turned their plans post-interview, so the role I interviewed for didn’t even exist.

Other than that, I had three phone interviews, including the one I accepted. Of the other two, I’ve since been offered one, and got to face-to-face interview on the other.

I haven’t worked out the actual success ratio, and don’t really need to. All that matters is that it took me two weeks from leaving one place to starting another.  And that’s no bad thing at all.

All Change (again)

Today is the last day of my current contract. It’s been a hectic (but pretty productive) month, and has given me some further pointers for where I want things to go in the longer-term for my own development projects and ideas.

In the meantime though, a change.

I’ve been offered a full-time permanent role with a tech company in Milton Keynes. It sits on a par with a lot of my longer-term ideas too, and should give me a decent grounding in some bits that have been missing from my recent CV. So it’s got its bonuses.

I have my reservations this time – about the company itself, rather than the work. The work doesn’t really concern me at all. The company does.

Since being put forward for the role, they’ve been – pushy, I think is the best way to describe it.

I did the phone interview on short notice – it’s fine, I’m used to that.

Then the interview request came through, for tomorrow. OK, I can move things around, arrange things for that to happen.  Then on the day they tell me “Oh, it’s likely to be two to three hours“.  Nice to be pre-warned, and lucky I hadn’t just said I’d do the interview in my lunch-hour…

That all went ok, and the offer was pretty much there. But they wanted to talk to me the next day, to have a final phone conversation. Again, it had to be Today. It had to be ASAP.  Pushy.

They know I’m working my ass off this week, closing the current contract. And still they’ve been pushing every damn day, “Have you done the paperwork” “Will you be starting“.

The paperwork didn’t even arrive ’til yesterday. I’ve said I want to read through the contract, make sure I know the deal and what’s on offer before I sign to start.  And I’m working. So I got the paperwork at 12, in the end. By 3pm they were calling again, “We want to confirm you’ll be starting on Monday“.

I’ll start with them. But if they keep up this kind of bullshit pushy “We’re important” attitude, they’ll be told to fuck off before very long at all.

So yeah, I’ve got some reservations. The pros (currently) outweigh the cons, but it’s not by much. We’ll see.

Maintaining The Average

This is becoming all too common. My interview success ratio remains at 100% – in theory it should actually be higher, having had one small contract without even interviewing.

I had a phone interview with a place yesterday, which went well, and was going to be a ‘proper’ interview early next week.

However, they’ve changed their minds, and now I’m doing all the paperwork and instead starting on Monday. And yet again I find myself in the position of going to start a new contract without ever having even met any of the people I’ll be working with.

Speaking to friends and ex-colleagues about it today, I kept on getting told that I’m really lucky. But this seems to be the consistent state of things – which means it can’t just be luck. Can it?

Short Notice

While the job offer is still standing, it’s not been confirmed yet, waiting on references and a final decision – which is somewhat annoying.

However, next week I’m working. No idea exactly where, or exactly what I’m going to be doing – but I’ll be working.

It’s even more bizarre than my usual standards – I’ve never met the people, never even spoken to them. I got an email from an  agency on Friday lunchtime asking if I was available for something on Monday in London. Well, yes, I am/was. I got some more details – day rate, basic idea of the job (build a website for a client of an advertising agency) – and sent back my up-to-date CV.

Less than an hour later I got another email. “OK, you’ve got it.” and thus started the paperwork bit.

I don’t even know how to add that into my usual ratio of interview to job offer. It’s a job offer (admittedly only a very short-term contract, one week maybe two) without any form of interview.

And how weird is that?