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I’m in the middle of nowhere!

08 Oct

New readers may be unaware that, ignoring the series of “CD of my life” articles which HAVE by their very nature to include them, I do try to make the titles of these pieces contain either song titles or song lyrics. Have a run through the archive and see how many you can spot.

This one is named after a song by the late, great Dusty Springfield and it describes my current situation very well indeed.

Yes! In answer to your unspoken question – I have changed jobs again!

When I last updated you on the state of my somewhat patchy recent employment history (3rd July 2011) I was working on a contract for a company in Huntingdon. That job ceased to be fun when the main phase of the project (which involved “migrating” the staff of a huge network of Old People’s Homes to computers running Windows 7) came to an end after the 8 weeks I was initially hired for and they shifted me into the Support Desk Office – that’s “Helpdesk” to you – and I had to spend all day on the telephone wearing a silly headset!

Even that wasn’t so bad while I was only getting calls from the company whose migration I had worked on – I knew their systems very well by then – but after another month I started to get calls from people from other companies who were also clients of my employer.

There were two bad things about that. Firstly, no-one bothered to tell me it was going to happen and, secondly, I was given no training whatsoever in either what I should expect from these new callers or how I should answer their questions. I know I’m supposed to be intelligent but trying to answer questions on unfamiliar systems with all the people around me too busy to help while not letting on to the caller that I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about was a total bloody nightmare!

From a job security point of view it was also extremely unsatisfactory in that once the initial 8 weeks were up they were only prepared to extend my contract 2 weeks at a time. This meant that every second Monday I had to go to the manager and remind him that I would be finishing that Friday unless another extension was forthcoming. THAT got rather boring because there are only so many ways you can ask and I do SO like to be original!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got an “out of the blue” call from an agency who had found my details online and wanted permission to pass them on to a company assembling a team for a changeover to Windows 7. The location was rather off the beaten track but the daily pay rate was 166% of what I was then on so I agreed.

Following a lunchtime telephone interview  (conducted with me sitting in my car with a VERY dodgy mobile phone signal) I was offered a position to commence on Monday 3rd October – the working day after my latest contract extension was due to expire – and I accepted it.

So when, just for once, my manager came to ME and said “I presume you’d like another 2 weeks” I was able to say with some satisfaction, “Thanks very much but I’ve found something new that will last me until at least next Christmas”.

And so, somewhat regretfully (because it was only the work I wasn’t happy with – the people I worked with were all utterly brilliant!) I ceased my 30 minute, 20 mile trip down the A1 from Peterborough to Huntingdon at the end of September and now have a new daily odyssey!

As I said earlier I now work “in the middle of nowhere” or, as it is better known “The National Construction Skills College, Bircham Newton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk”.

Now the ancient port of Kings Lynn is about 40 miles from my home and is reached by the A47 trunk road which as you probably know already, starts at Great Yarmouth on the east coast then cuts across Norfolk to Kings Lynn and onwards to Peterborough and Leicester. It is THE main road in that part of the world and some of it – only about 12 miles of the 40 mile bit that I use – is even dual carriageway! Very modern for northern East Anglia! It is only because of those 12 miles that occasionally I do actually manage to overtake some of the multitude of Heavy Goods Vehicles which dictate the speed that the rest of have to creep along at!

The strange thing about going to work in the morning now is that, of the final 15 miles, no less than 6 are actually on very minor roads approaching my destination and this means that while10% of my trip is on narrow “B” roads this ISN’T the slowest part of the journey! That distinction goes to the bit of A47 that crosses the river Great Ouse and the queue for the roundabout that leads me off onto the A149 up the right hand side of Kings Lynn – I sometimes seem to be the only person on that bit who knows which bloody lane he should be in while all around me others are weaving back and forth trying to queue jump! Especially, as I probably do not need to tell you, the drivers of BMWs, Audis and VW Golf GTis!

The place I eventually arrive at is indeed miles from anywhere and for the years 1916 to 1966 was a Royal Air Force Coastal Command airfield. The fact that it is now a College for the construction industry means that while it does have the feeling of a University campus about it sometimes, at other times you look at the chunky, red brick buildings and expect to see men in air force blue uniforms saluting Wing Commanders with handlebar moustaches!

I think I’m going to enjoy it – I’m part of a good team and this is helped by the fact that three of the four of us in it actually worked together on the aforementioned Old People’s Home project (although none of us knew the others were applying for the job)!

So, if my output here drops off again as it did over the summer you will know this time that it isn’t because I’m fed up with computers when I get in – I’m just too damned tired from all that driving!

Finally, as a way of closing out this piece I wish to share with you something that I saw by the roadside on Monday on the A47 somewhere between Wisbech and Kings Lynn.

A series of blue Police notice boards hove into view, duly spaced out for ease of reading, and these were worded as follows:

“Accident here”

“Monday PM”

“Witnesses required”

“Please call police”

Now, knowing as you do the way my mind delights in deliberately and knowingly taking things the wrong way and given that this was seen on Monday MORNING, I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that I was sorely tempted to call them up, enquire the price of a witness ticket and ask what time they would like me to turn up for the accident!

On reflection though it doesn’t do to start a new job with charges of “Wasting Police time” hanging over one’s head, now does it?

Alfie

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2 Comments

Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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2 responses to “I’m in the middle of nowhere!

  1. Vincent

    October 9, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I LOLled at that last bit!

    I don’t know what the setup was, at the roundabout you described – but I recall a time, in Chelmsford, when a particular roundabout always had a MASSIVE queue for people turning LEFT off it – but only a short one for those turning RIGHT.

    From this situation, three groups emerged.

    (1) The majority just QUEUED in the left lane (the British LOVE queuing).

    (2) A minority (those Beemer/Audi/Golf drivers wot you spoke of) would go sailing down the right lane – then when they reached the back of THAT queue, take their lives in their hands and PUSH INTO the left lane.

    (3) Me (and any other Mensans that happened along) would also go down the right lane – and TURN right. Then, taking ADVANTAGE of the complex scientific phenomenonenom known as The Roundabout, we would CONTINUE going around said roundabout (through some 450 degrees) and simply peel off into our desired LEFT turn.

    Not exactly rocket science, though. You’d have figured even in ESSEX, some people would have thought of it – but no.

    It took no more than TEN SECONDS to tootle around that roundabout (a HELL of a lot less time than it would have taken, queueing in the left lane) and had the advantage that you would be unlikely to enrage a less-intellectually-gifted-than-you Essex Man (and likely attract a road-rage incident from same) since the roundabout in question had trees and flowers in its middle, which obscured his view of your ploy.

    They’ve built a bypass now…

     
  2. Cy Quick

    October 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    A fascinating piece of reporting from the hi-technology work-face!

     

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