Friday, September 29, 2006

Return of the Students

Riding around on the Number 25 as I do, I was slightly taken aback at the difference that students make.

No longer do I sit in quiet contemplation of 42. Instead I have to breathe and count to 10 when I see someone sitting in MY seat. Yes, I have a seat. Actually, I have two. All summer, I've pretty much had the top deck to myself. I sit on the right side of the bus going to the university 5 rows back from the stairs. There's a place where I can put my right leg and then lean on it with my elbow as I stare out the window. When I get to the last stop at the university I switch to the left side, but back another row, so I can adopt a similar position out of the sun (yes there was sun). Now the top deck is almost full. Not only that, people hover over me and look pointedly at the seat my bag rests on. They want to sit next to me! It's just not on.

The city has woken up from it's summer slumber. The streets are packed; not only do I have to dodge the elderly, the infirm and the mums with double buggies, I have to dodge lost students as well. That's fine, but the students arrival heralds the dreaded 'C'word.

I hate the run-up to Christmas. The streets and lanes get packed. It becomes impossible to pop in to do a 'quick' bit of shopping. But more than that, I hate the anxiety and aggression that Christmas brings. The way people treat each other is appalling. Shoppers barge into each other, bags swinging; children fight and wail to stressed parents who bicker with each other. Last Christmas boy and I waded our way through the throng, between us we counted 4 altercations in 20 mins, including a fist fight between a teenage boy and girl. Is this really the season of good will?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Breaking News!

I've got a job! I declined the job selling financial services and accepted a call centre job signposting for the NHS. I'm sooo chuffed. I went along for the interview today and they were so lovely, I forgot I was having an interview. The only down side is that it's a temporary assignment. But it gets me through the Christmas period and the pay is just wonderful.

I'll be in training starting Wednesday for 3 weeks and then I'll go 'live'! So the blog here might be a bit sporadic. I'll be based in Hellesdon so I'm going to be catching the Number 28 on a regular basis, which will be an interesting comparison to the Number 25.

I've just re-read that last sentence...I have turned into an anorak. Oh dear.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rally the Troops

Regular bloggers will know that recently, several very popular bloggers have been Dooced i.e. their employers have found out about their blogs and they've been disciplined or sacked. A site I visit regularly is Tom Reynold's Random Acts of Reality and he's highlighted the plight of Inspector Gadget on the Police Inspectors Blog. I've had a trawl through his site and I must admit I am impressed. He does not bring the service into disrepute. What he does, is highlight how difficult it is to do his job, getting it in the neck from the punters he's supposed to be serving and protecting and The Powers that Be.

Blogging is a way to have a coffee and a gossip with people you wouldn't normally meet. It's a way of off-loading, hanging out, even learning something. And damn it, I like a good 'in-joke'. I wonder if someone reading a blog about frontline services would be as quick to ring 999 to get an ambulance for their verruca, or for reporting the theft of a spanner, or an assault with a pigeon?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Suicidal Cyclists

What do you reckon: who would win - a cyclist, or a bus?

This morning I hopped onto the 15 into town and was happily listening to Men at Work on my MP3 player when a cyclist shot out in front of the bus from a side road. The bus managed to brake and didn't hit him.

In My Reality there are 3 types of road users: pedestrians, cyclists and drivers (of various sizes and persuasions). It is possible to belong to all 3 groups: but generally speaking, when belonging to one group, the other groups have to be loathed and detested.

Pedestrians live in a world of their own. They are completely oblivious to the world around them (unless an attractive member of the lusted after sex is on the other side of the road). They are plugged into their headphones and suffer from a Superman complex. They think they are invincible. They walk out in front of oncoming traffic without a worry or frown. I have seen a few stop and eat chips in the middle of a busy road in a sea-side town. I kid you not.

Cyclists are the righteous. They aren't polluting the planet and therefore red lights and the highway code do not apply to them. Pavements are another word for cycle lane. Pedestrians and drivers beware. It won't be long before my boy starts telling me off for embarrassing him in public. I have been known to shout after cyclists who don't stop at red lights when I'm trying to cross.

Drivers believe might is right; and lets face it, who wants to get into an argument with an articulated lorry. Chances are you will lose. They are selfish (how many cars do you see on a daily commute with 1 passenger), they are using up valuable fossil fuels and they have compensation issues. How else do you explain souped up Vauxhall Novas, painted bright purple, with a massive spoiler and gold-painted fake alloy wheels?

This cyclist (male) didn't even pause when joining the main road, he actually undertook a waiting car to do so (they don't recommend that in the highway code). Not only that, he gave the bus driver a mouthful. Apparently as he was joining a cycle lane (actually it's both a bus and cycle lane), he had right of way. The fact that users of said side road have to 'give way' did not apply to him.

The bus driver didn't say it. So I'll say it for him:

Pillock.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Damp and Grey

My boy coughed up such a storm getting ready for school, it was obvious he still didn't feel any better so I shovelled him back into bed. My morning happened very, very slowly until we both needed a Star Wars fix. It took me half an hour to get dressed and leave the house. I waited for the Numbers 14/24 both of which go directly into the city.

I don't bother with an umbrella for two reasons. Firstly, I have the memory of a hamster, I've lost way too many umbrellas for me to invest in anymore and secondly, I still get wet, so why have the extra burden of carrying something around with the potential for a compensation nightmare after I've accidentally removed someones eyeballs? So when it rains I get wet and try to dodge umbrellas.

Today's trip into town was no different. I waited for the bus, standing well back from the road. When the bus appeared I was a grateful, damp bunny I tell you. Inside the bus, the passengers were at various stages of damp, misery and steaming up the windows. Norwich was bleak, but just because it was tipping it down, it didn't stop the pre-teenagers showing off their bare midriffs and stick-like, blue legs.

The trip back, once I secured the DVD from the library was fairly uneventful, but for us passengers all huddling under the bus shelter. It's the only time I don't mind being up close and personal with other bus people. It kept the wind out and it ensure that those in the middle didn't get soaked by the gusts. However, when the bus eventually arrived solidarity disappeared, as we all tried to stampede into the bus.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Blog Research

This week I found this really interesting blog, following links. I kept on coming back to it, thinking it was all good stuff. And then yesterday's blog blew my mind. It was all about selecting the right question, very relevant as I start to think about the wording for my dissertation.

There has been something about this week, little things keep coming together. I found bus blogs and now have other blogs linking to this site. I'm finding bits and pieces that are relevant to my study and work. Oh, I've even got a job now. It's all coming together.

Actually, all that's happened is that I've managed to pull together most of the bits and pieces I'll need to see me through my final year. I'm packed and ready to go. Coming?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Elderly Customers

Yesterday, justajob talked about his Almost Embarrassing Moment involving a little old lady. Today, waiting patiently for the Number 25, I witnessed another driver dealing with a very frustrating little old couple.

They had been waiting on the bench at the bus shelter, and when the 25 pulled up, they lept up all sprightly-like until they got to the wide open doors. There they stopped; they talked to each other; one peered at the front of the bus, while the other did likewise at the side; they then looked at the 22 bus which was coming along side of the 25. All of which would have been fine, except that took a good minute and there was a queue behind them. They refused to get out of the way so that other people could get on.

In the end the bus driver called "is there anyone who want this 25 service to the university?" At which point the dotty pair glanced back and saw the members of the queue looking impatient. They tutted and muttered as they moved out of the way. In the end they chose the other bus. Our bus driver did not look heartbroken.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On being Serenaded

The Number 25 route attracts all sorts of people, from different walks of life and different countries. You never really know who will get on. Will it be a granny, will it be a professor, a clerk, a mum and babies?

This time it was a pack of foreign students. You need to understand that my grasp of languages is tenuous at best. I can order pizza in Italian, beer in Spanish, turn anything down in Russian and kiss in French. When people from 'over there' speak their native tongues at native speed, I'm hard pressed to tell whether they're speaking Spanish or Portuguese. This pack of foreign students took over the top deck. They must have been all of 16 if that. They were lively and chatty and laughed often. When they got on they said a barely understandable 'thank you' to the driver. When we got over the St Stephens roundabout and headed up Chapelfield, they all burst into song.

They covered Christina Aguilera, her new single and then they launched into a note and accent perfect rendition of 'Unfaithful' - by a luscious black singer, but buggered if I can remember her name - I was gobsmacked. None of these girls could barely say hello and here they were serenading in British R&B. Amazing. I was really sorry when they got off at Eaton Park.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bus Groupie

Yesterday I made contact with a bus driver who's just passed his test and has been blogging throughout the process. He's very kindly agreed to put a link to my site, which is just great. Thanks Jimmy. We had a brief exchange of e-mails and he wrote:

I was introduced to a woman who spends all day on various buses, she's known as a bus groupie, we dropped her off and low and behold, we pick her up again half an hour later, bless her, totally harmless, just lonely.

I'm a bus groupie! So all the bus drivers on the Number 25 think I'm sad and lonely. Excellent. The next time I go around the route, I'll have to flash my student ID with a letter from my CP tutor. Think they'll believe me?

Me neither.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bus Blogs

Today epitomised everything I love about travelling on the 25 Route. The bus driver was lovely, we had a quick chat at the Railway Station and at the University. He seemed perplexed that anyone would want to do a tour of Norwich on his bus, but took it all in his stride. As I got off he asked whether I had enjoyed it. It made me sorry I didn't talk to him some more. Note to self: start preparing interview questions for bus drivers and passengers.

Which brings me to the next point...I found bus blogs! Excellent. It's not just me who finds riding around on a bus great fun. So in the next few days I'll be introducing myself, linking their sites and asking them to return the favour. Wow. An internet community of bus enthusiasts. How cool is that?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Number 25 Route

Now Boy is back at school I am once again free to ride around the buses. Which I have been doing pretty much every day this week. I was trying to discover what exactly it was about the 25 bus route that I found so fascinating. Like all of the routes that run through Norwich it links opposite sides of the city. The buses are usually double decker in pretty good repair. No screaming breaks or banging clutches for the university runs. In fact, some of them are so new they still have that plasticky upholstery smell.

I decided today that the reason I love the route is because it shows off the different sides of Norwich. The leafy village feel of Unthank Road and the University against the bustling, urban, business side found in Prince of Wales Road and the relatively new Riverside development. The city centre holds these two opposites apart with oven gloves, chrome and glass Chapelfield shopping centre butted up against the old cobbled city walls. The greenery of the wealthy, studenty part of town, against the night clubs and kebab takeaways. It's not an entirely comfortable fit, but there's an energy in the opposition which makes Norwich compelling.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Back on Track

I've spent the rest of the week either jobhunting or navel gazing. This weekend is dedicated to Journeying. I'm fast running out of time before I start college again and I feel ill-prepared. Today's plan of action will be reading up Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces and researching Sophie Calle.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Opportunity Lost

Well, I did the best I could, and I just wasn't the best candidate for the call centre job. So it won't be my dulcet tones that you'll be hearing when you ring up to complain that your life has been ruined because the train was late.

I did however, receive permission to walk my son to his rendevous point with his mates on his way to high school. He had a great day, met his teachers, came home happy and bouncy. The reality of high school was a lot better than that which existed in his imagination. He has loads of friends in his year and in the years above him, the teachers are fine as are the other students. I wish I could say that it was down to me that he is so well adjusted, but it's not. He's a brilliant young man, because he is simply brilliant. I think I'm the priviledged one, being his mum.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Waiting Part II

Today, my life felt like a sitcom. I got up this morning with weirder than normal hormones, which meant one heavy period, there went the sexy interview undies. I gathered together loads of paper and popped them into my briefcase. I changed my shoes twice before I'd even ironed my blouse.The croissant I'd intended to have for breakfast waved goodbye to me and wished me luck along with my boy. I made it out the house on time; stood and waited for the bus for 10 minutes. The bus wasn't late, I was early for it. When I got to their office I was told that my interview was 11 o'clock, not the 10 o'clock the agency wrote in their e-mail along with the rest of the interview gubbins.

I smiled pleasantly and said I'd have coffee and return. Which I did. Did some more interview prep, drank my frothy coffee (too light on the chocolate dusting). Visited the loo, feminine disaster and no friendly dispensers. I hoofed it over the Spa shop over the road made my purchases and minced along to the railway station, the closest public loo available. At this point my shoes were killing me, hold the image of minced in your mind, I'll come back to it at the end.

I get back and am ushered in. They then ask for a copy of the letter that was e-mailed to them by the agency. Which wasn't in my pile of papers in my briefcase. I then had to talk my boy through the process of forwarding it on, which he did, bless him, my saviour. The rest of the interview went reasonably well, they were amused by me being a trainspotter and were interested in my project. The second part was a close examination of my letter and a couple of scenarios. I didn't think the this part went so well. I've never done front-line customer service and answering on my gut instincts perhaps wasn't what they wanted to hear. We'll see. I find out tomorrow.

I was supposed to meet boy in town for some last minute stationary shopping, but I could barely walk. I made it on to the bus and then the few yards to the flat, I was that close to just crawling my feet hurt so much. When I got in and took my shoes off - yuck! Remember I mentioned 'minced'? I might have a shoe fetish, but my feet certainly aren't up for the punishment. I knew there was a reason I'd never be a ballet dancer.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Waiting

I feel as if I'm waiting to start my life. I've got another a month before College starts. I've got my dissertation subject sorted, I know what I'm going to be doing for my degree. I've got my books sat on the bookcase, waiting for me to open them. I've got all these ideas of things to do, research, experiments, poems.

I did the research for the job interview tomorrow. I'm thinking about getting my outfit together, gathering the bits of paper. I'm re-reading the interview guidelines and job description. Now I just have to wait for tomorrow.

My boy is waiting to start high school. We've got his uniform together, he's planned his route to school. He's walking in with a big bunch of his mates. I did offer to take him, but he very politely declined. Which is exactly as it should be. He's waiting to be 13, waiting to become the amazing young man I believe he will become.

Me, I've done my soul searching. Stared for hours into my navel, analysing how I've come to be in this place in time. All the mistakes I've made, with completely the wrong men. Sometimes the right men at the wrong time. Some mistakes I'd make again without a second thought, others I'd pay my weight in gold to erase all evidence in Time.

What am I waiting for? I'm waiting to be welcomed. For a man to look at me and see me for who I am, to accept me. To open his arms just for me. If it means I need to be on my own for awhile, then that's fine. I know what I'm doing. I'm going to get a shit-hot degree, I'm going to get a good job, I'm going to hang out with my really great and sexy friends.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday Shopping

I'm almost prepared for the interview Monday. I have my interview undies. My boy was completely perplexed why new nix would make a difference, but he was game enough to troop around M&S as I tried to make my mind up. Once I made my mind up I had a look at their shoes....

I have developed a shoe fetish. Their shoes are amazing. I found the most amazing pair of black shoes, they must have been about 3 inches high, they had ribbons. Cheeky power shoes. If I get the job, they are so going to be coming home with me. After M&S, I went into Next and looked at their shoes. Oh yummy. Dainty shoes with glitter and sparkles and tiny tiny straps! Nothing fortunately in my size, because if I bought the shoes, I'd have to buy something to wear with them. Like a slinky dress from Monsoon....

Don't worry, I'm not going to give into temptation. I've got will power and there's no point buying sexy shoes and a gorgeous dress (and of course accessories to match), without having something to go to, in order to show it all off. But I have been wearing my 'oops' shoes, flashing my shiny pink toes off. The cat always looks at me with disdain. I'm used to it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Persistance

Be warned, I am making chilli. Of course, what started out as chilli for 2 has now turned into a mega pot full and because I believe in 'one for the pot - two for me' I am now enjoying the rest of the beer, and boy the chocolate tasted good. Yum!

We've had a good day, boy and I. We managed to get the rest of his sports gear and some new trainers for him, he is now set for high school next week. Unfortunately, he's now grown out of childrens shoes and is now into adults, which is a bit of a bugger on the budget. My mum always taught me never to be stingy with shoes, but with the sales at this time of year, we've saved quite a bit of dosh. Hopefully, the shoes will last him through the next growing spurt.

The really great news is that I rang up an agency today and they've organised an interview for me Monday morning. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. I am really excited because it's with a local rail operator. It's call centre work, which I must admit, I've never done. Considering that most of my employment has focused around customer services in one way or another, it shouldn't be too hard to get to grips with.

Also, if they are groovy employers and open to suggestion, I could actually make it work in my favour. Instead of doing bus journeys, I could do train journeys, and that would mean that I'm not limited to one city. I could end up travelling all round the country! Which would be much more interesting. I would be able to compare counties, cities, regions. It makes an almost perfect fit. My creative, academic and employment life would fit, feeding my personal and professional growth. All I have to do now is convince them that I am their bitch. Wish me luck! Tomorrow, I'm off to M&S to buy my interview undies, I've already planned my outfit. How anal am I?