On the Road again – 2 – Earning a crust!

13 Mar

I see that I have been somewhat remiss in not yet producing any of the promised series of articles about my travels around the country on my latest Windows 7 Migration Contract.

This has now been on the go since my training at Peterborough finished on 27th January and I set out “on the road” with my colleagues. Our first site visit was to a bakery in Wakefield where the seven of us (5 Technicians, a Team Leader and a “Team Leader in training”) were to practice our procedures and iron out unforeseen difficulties.  The idea was that after 2 ½ weeks the Wakefield site would be fully Windows 7’d  and we would move on to the sister site 14 miles away in Bradford for a week and half.

However, one of those unforeseeable things happened; although it could be argued that SOMEONE should have thought, in the planning stages, that the strain of coping with 15 simultaneous Win 7 builds coming through it MIGHT just be too much for the superannuated Wakefield Server which had a kind of fit and died!

Having completely upset the workings of the entire Wakefield site by killing their server, we did the decent thing – told them to get it fixed and moved on to Bradford a week earlier than planned!

The Bradford site was not, of course, expecting us for another week and the only room that could be made available to us was a 3 metre square office with a low level kitchen-style worktop around two sides – making it even smaller! Nevertheless, we got through it, although there were some “administrative” and “political” difficulties (which I won’t bore you with) which held us up for two days, and we returned to Wakefield with two weeks work to do in our one remaining week! Which, somehow, we did.

My intention in writing these pieces was to actually tell you something of my perceptions of the West Yorkshire towns/cities of Wakefield and Bradford but regrettably I cannot.  Both sites were on the outskirts of the places in question and I stayed in a rather nice Bed & Breakfast establishment in Wakefield the whole time – walking to the Wakefield factory and driving daily from there each day while at Bradford. We were working such long hours that I never felt any urge to visit the centres of either place once the evening food had been consumed.

As far as Bradford was concerned I made only one observation in my little notebook and that concerned an enormous advertising hoarding that I passed each day on the approach to the factory. I understand that it is, in reality, a shop but when I saw it the thought that popped into my head was that it had to be the most awful theme park to take one’s children to EVER! It was called:


I imagine that instead of a log flume ride it would have something involving sliding down a gigantic paste covered trestle table!

The people didn’t impress me much at the Bradford site either! While I know that they could all speak English reasonably well (the Elfin Safety Gnomes wouldn’t have allowed them to operate the machinery otherwise) all of the factory workers immediately, and very rudely, reverted to their native tongues whenever we were around.

In fact, apart from the owners of the B&B and those of my colleagues staying at the same place, the only person with whom I conversed outside of work was the Yorkshire lady who cooked my “Full English” breakfast every day – and I had some difficulty understanding her.

For example, when we asked her one morning for the shortest route from the accommodation to the factory we were told (as far as I could make out) to:

“Go down ginnel beside t’waggen and tek second on t’left”

We duly thanked her for this information while wondering what it all meant and set off for work.

As we walked down the main road it all started to make sense. Beside the public house called “The Wagon” (t’waggen) was a wide public passageway (a ginnel) which led through to a street behind. Once on that it was only necessary to take (tek) the second road on the left (t’left) and we were at the factory gates! Why couldn’t she just tell us that in plain English instead of making everything sound like female Vulcans?

Look it up! I’m not going to start explaining Star Trek references that have been around for nearly 50 years to you now! OK?

That wraps up Yorkshire and our next team assignment was the one that for purely financial reasons I wanted the least – Peterborough! Why so? Well, on this contract we get a daily rate of pay that isn’t bad but isn’t brilliant either plus mileage and a flat rate payment to cover food and accommodation which is paid whether we spend it or not IF (and only if) we are working more than 40 miles from home – which Peterborough isn’t!

Of course it was more than adequate compensation for me to spend each night eating and sleeping at home but I’m in this job for the money and £1.50 a day mileage on top of the taxable daily payment left me feeling slightly put out. Still, it was only for a week and we managed to get it all done on time.

It was, however, with some sadness that I said goodbye to my colleagues at the end of that week as we were split from that point into three new teams, providing the “real life” experience to assist the new recruits who would join us on Monday.

That was, as I write this, just over a week ago and the new team has worked out really well – they are fun to work with and have picked everything up very quickly indeed. We have just finished our first assignment together at Walthamstow and I am composing this in the hotel to which I have just moved midweek ready to start a two and a half week residency in a large bakery in Orpington.

Until I do this again that makes you just as up to date on my movements as I am.

As usual, I looked for a way of winding up this piece in the manner you expect of me and it suddenly occurred to me that while “Earning a crust” is a damn good title for an article about working in bakeries it doesn’t meet my old criteria of containing the lyrics or title of a song or album in it.

While trying to think of an alternative I thought back to my Wakefield experience – the place made doughnuts (although we saw precious few of those) and also some small, crusty loaves. We were given some of the latter straight from the oven but I was a bit slow getting to them (well SOMEONE had to do the work!) and the bit that was left for me was too much crust and not enough bread. And the thought of THAT clicked with a lyrical reference that I dedicate to the people of Wakefield.

So with heartfelt apologies to you all I offer my alternate title for this piece:

“We built this city on rock ‘ard rolls”!


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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Travel related


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