I feel a little ashamed, in a way, that it’s been so long since I updated this journal.

Two weeks at work has turned in to four weeks.

My workload has increased exponentially; I am carrying 11 projects of my own, and ‘babysitting’ two projects for a colleague who is on annual leave.

One of the ‘babysitting’ projects is causing so many problems that, for the last two weeks, I have all but stopped work on any of mine.

But keeping busy at work is not a complaint.

I love it.

I get home in the evenings wiped out, and have a tendency to sit on the settee in a semi-coma, and generally feel too exhausted to cook a proper meal.

But I love it.

The really big big big big big bit of news is that, and exclusively due to the kindness and generosity of a very special person, I am mobile once more.

Generously, this friend offered to ‘sub’ me a bonkers amount of money to enable me to buy a bike sooner than I had planned.

I declined this too-generous offer.

I’m sticking to my plan.

Have I mentioned my four-stage plan?

Stage 1: buy a cheap motorbike as an everyday commuter
Stage 2: move house
Stage 3: buy a more expensive motorbike (for touring/long-distance, non-commuter duties)
Stage 4: buy a car

Anyway, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it – despite the far-too-generous offer that was made to me.

I did, however, accept the offer of much less money, and went out and bought a motorbike, a few weeks earlier than stage one of my plan had estimated.

The main benefit of this friend’s generosity is that I am able to lay the foundations for stage two sooner than I had hoped.

I am getting out and about, looking at areas, checking out potential new places to live.

Looking at houses.

I’ve seen the areas on my shortlist.

I’ve had a good look around the area that was my wildcard choice.

And I’m going for my wildcard.

Last weekend I motorbiked up there and looked at one house. It was supposed to be four houses, but due to estate agent incompetence, only one viewing materialised.

This weekend I am going back to look at four houses.

And I’m almost in a position to pay my friend back – on time/on target – in full.

So yes, it’s brilliant to be back in work.

And it’s fantastic to have lovely friends.

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Ticking along

I have been working for two weeks today – is this some kind of anniversary?

And today was payday.

I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to have some money in my bank account after having no income since the end of January.

Yes, it hasn’t been easy.

I have had to sell a lot of tech, sell my car, sell my motorbike. And my horse was sold – without my permission – by the livery yard, where he had lived for almost six years.

So no, it hasn’t been easy.

But I could not have survived without the support of one friend in particular.

Despite not being in a position to help, despite going through massive upheaval and domestic trauma herself, she has gone out of her way to keep me going.

Three times, in recent months, enormous amounts of internet shopping has arrived at the house.

Three times this lovely friend has generously spent significant amounts of money she could ill-afford, to feed a distant person.

I don’t know how I’m going to repay this friend’s kindness.

But I am going to try.

No matter how long it will take me.

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A job update – updated

I am still waiting to hear something – anything – back from the European consultancy, on when I might be meeting the head of the project that I am/was being lined up to deliver.

Yesterday (Monday) morning I had an interview with another employer – but also, coincidentally, in Oxford.

I thought that interview went very well (but I’ve been wrong before), and I had high expectations.

This evening I had a phone call from the recruiter offering me that job – the one I interviewed for yesterday morning.

I start on Tuesday.

It’s a very good day rate

It’s very local (which is terrific, because I sold my car a few days ago to pay this month’s rent).

And it is a role that I am going to love doing.

So yay!

Go me!

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A job update

Monday last week I saw a full-time, permanent role with a large European consultancy. The job will be based in Oxford, on a client’s site.


  • I made a relatively minor edit to my CV and applied for the role
  • Two hours later I had a follow-up phone call from the consultancy
  • An hour after that the consultancy called back and invited me to a telephone interview the next day (Tuesday)
  • The next day’s telephone interview lasted 58 minutes. It was comprehensive, covered a lot of ground
  • An hour after that the consultancy called and invited me to a face-to-face at their southern-region office in Surrey, in two days time (Thursday)
  • The face-to-face interview was thorough, grilling, detailed
  • Whilst I was on my way home, the consultancy called. They asked if I could attend another face-to-face interview at their head office in Warrington, Cheshire, at 10am the next day (Friday). They went in to a little detail about the embedded role in Oxford. It sounded excellent and well within my skills and experience. I said I would attend the next interview
  • In Warrington, the next day (Thursday), the face-to-face interview was good-natured, but slightly adversarial; we drilled down, in fine detail, in to specific experience, sills, qualifications, and looked at tech and non-tech situations that had arisen throughout my career, and how I had dealt with them.
  • At the conclusion of the session, the interviewer, offered me tea/coffee and asked me to wait while he discussed a few things with his colleague (the person who had interviewed me in Surrey, two days previously)
  • Half an hour later the interviewer returned. He asked if I would attend a meeting, in a few hours time, in Oxford, with the consultancy’s account manager, to see how he felt I might fit in with the end client. He exposed a little more detail about the role. It still sounded excellent, so I agreed
  • Three hours later and one hundred and sixty miles away from Warrington, I met the account manager. We sat in a coffee bar in Oxford and talked, over coffee and cake, about the role, the customer, the personalities, the operational difficulties, and about ourselves, as we established something of our personalities, on the way to building a relationship
  • A few hours later the account manager called me. He said he felt I would fit in very well. He asked me to attend a meeting in two working days time (Monday afternoon) with another consultant who was working onsite with the client, and then – two hours after that – attend another meeting, but this time with the client’s resource manager. I agreed, obviously
  • On Monday afternoon I met, and had coffee with, the consultant. She was nice, we got on well. After an hour we shook hands, she wished me luck for my interview with the client resource manager, which was due to start in an hour
  • Half an hour later the consultancy account manager called me. He said he’d had feedback from the onsite consultant. She had told him I’d fit well in to the organisation, and that I had ticked all of the right skills and attributes boxes for her. He wished me luck with my meeting with the resource manager in half an hour
  • Thirty minutes later I sat down with the resource manager. It was a slightly awkward meeting. We got on well, but she had no detail about the role, she was unable to answer any specific questions about budget, timescale, deliverables. This turned in to a softer ‘getting to know you’ kind of meeting. I felt it went well, even though she was unable to answer some of my questions, whereas I felt I demonstrated, and answered, hers with specifics
  • Two days later (Wednesday afternoon) the consultancy account manager called me with feedback. I hadn’t, apparently, impressed the resource manager too much. She liked me and she liked my style, but I had still, somehow, left her with a slight questionmark as to whether I would fit in or not. She had asked if I could return to meet the head of the project that I would be delivering. I agreed to this. The account manager said that meeting would probably take place early next week, but getting hold of the head of the project was tricky, and could take a while

So here I am, waiting for details of this (final?) interview. Meanwhile, here are some associated facts and figures:

  1. It has been ten working days since I first applied for this role
  2. In those 10 days, I have travelled 465 miles to attend various interviews and meetings for it
  3. I have spent over 8.5 hours driving to/from these interviews and meetings
  4. While all this has been going on, my application rate has fallen (obv). I am now hitting an average of just 20 job applications a day.

It’s not as if I’m *not trying* to get back in to work.

ps: despite not working since January, I’m still not receiving any kind of benefits/financial assistance from the state.

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Going live


Over the weekend just ended, I have delivered two websites to their owners; all developments completed, all functional requirements (the things that the owners wanted) fully, erm, functional.

I don’t know which stage of the developments I enjoyed the most (and that might be bonkers to most people).

The different components of a fairly complex, mid-range development are:

  • imagining the idea as it was described to me
  • sketching out a draft model to help me understand the dependencies
  • creating the first prototype
  • enhancing the prototype; adding lots of different functionality as it developed
  • fixing bugs, resolving problems
  • working with the website owners to get down to a very detailed level of understanding
  • snagging/bug-fixing issues that became more and more minor with each passing day
  • adding new ideas, building in things which the website owners hadn’t considered could be done
  • declaring a project ‘ready’ and handing it back to the website owner
  • watching the owner load the website with content and watching it go ‘live’
  • adding things to my ‘extra enhancements’ list
  • crossing things off my ‘extra enhancements’ list as I build them, or resolve the previously undiscovered bugs
  • watching people use the project

Actually, I think the one thing that I enjoy more than any of these – even though it may be related to more than a few of them – is having to undertake detailed technical research to fix a thing.

And there have been several of those.

Twenty three, to be precise.

I’ve loved facing the “Oh my God, this is a problem that is way out of my depth/area of knowledge!” moment.

And then being analytical.

Breaking the problem down.

And trying to resolve parts of it – or all of it! – myself.

Or stealing fragments of someone else’s programming to overcome elements of the problem.

That’s happened eighteen times.

Yes, it’s the intricate research/problem-solving; that’s the part I have enjoyed the most.

Because I’m weird worth it.


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Not making this up but

On Monday morning I had a screening telephone call from a European consultancy. A couple of hours later they called me back to arrange a telephone interview.

On Tuesday I had the telephone interview. A couple of hours later I had a call back to arrange a face-to-face interview.

On Thursday I had the face-to-face interview in Surrey. A couple of hours later I had a call back to outline an emergency situation that the consultancy has – a gap they need to fill quickly.

On Friday I am having a face-to-face interview with an even more senior staffer at the consultancy, just south of Cheshire. If that goes well…

On Friday afternoon I could be having a meeting with the consultancy’s client in Oxford.


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*insert the sound of teeth grinding here*

A little before 7 this morning I had an unexpected delivery from Ocado, the food people.

£73-worth of food.

Selected and paid for by someone who can ill afford to spend £73 feeding another mouth.

A good friend.

But a good friend who can ill afford this luxury.

She should stop.

Before I grind my teeth right down.

But I am very grateful.


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The same old, same old

Recruitment folk tell me I am currently in the running for three jobs.

What this means is that I’m actually no further forward in the hunt for employment, despite applying for 120 jobs in the last three working days.

I’ve run out of money.

I have applied for Housing Benefit, but I am not holding my breath.

I’m still not in receipt of any other kind of benefits.

I can’t pay the rent at the end of the month.

And I am unable to pay for the electricity, gas and water bills that are in the kitchen.

I should be going out of my mind with worry but, bizarrely, I’m not.

It’s as if I have breached my limits of caring about my own situation.

I still feel good.

In fact I feel excellent.

But I can’t see past next weekend.

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From the heart

My iPod woke me this morning with the track ‘Careless Love’ by the very underrated Glasgow-based indie musos Camera Obscura.

The moment the sweeping violins began to gently waterfall through my iPod docking station, and into my consciousness, I froze, barely daring to break the musical spell.

The song is gorgeous.

The singer delivers her words in such a beautifully, faux ‘careless’, syrupy, dripping honey, kind of way.

And yet the underlying musicianship is crisp, clear, is sharp, and so important, is intonationally perfect.

Here’s the song (YouTube non-video clip):

Here are the lyrics that resonate so deeply with my own emotional place:

Honey, I’ve been really struggling
To think of you and I being friends
I blow hot and cold, yeah, I’m like a yo-yo
So I don’t think I should see you again

Careless love and acting tough, oh
It wasn’t my style I had enough
I don’t think that we can really be friends

And honey, I’ve been really struggling
To think of you and I anonymous
You’re off to mourning so
The love you gave ebb and flows
So I don’t think I should see you again

Careless love, acting tough
For it wasn’t my style, I had enough
Oh, I don’t think that we can really be friends
But I’ll try again

Oh, the love I feel for you it’s real
Oh, the love I feel for you it is real

Honey, I’ve been really struggling
To see this thing through to the end

Careless love, acting tough
For it wasn’t my style, I had enough
Oh, I don’t think that we can really be friends
But I’ll try again

Camera Obscura are, for me, the epitome of the truly independent musical collective.

They have no big budget, no massive record label, no global PR machine.

They are just a group of full-time musicians who make songs about aspects of everyday life, that have meaning in the worlds of listeners.

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A trick of the tail, a flick of the wrist

It’s been a fuck off sized day of muso stuff.

By the way, it’s Sunday, but only for the next 25 minutes.

I converted 556 tracks from vinyl to digital, and incorporated them in to my digital library (which now totals 7,500 tracks and a massive lump of diverse video projects).

I keep my digital library on a Raided NAS because I’ve had hardware failures (haven’t we all?), and my music library is precious to me.

In fact, the music segment of my digital library is so precious to me that I encode my music files in .FLAC format.

Obviously, I have to copy the .FLAC source files in to a listening directory and then convert them in to .mp3 format.

But that’s not geeky, is it?

I mean, you’d want to keep the audio files in a big, fat, high-quality, professional studio standard, wouldn’t you?


It was interesting, working through a fair segment of my vinyl library.

I didn’t realise I had so much Richard Ashcroft on vinyl.

Quite a lot of Basement Jaxx, though.

And there was a load of PJ Harvey, for some incomprehensible reason.

And Foals (yay!).

And a metric fuckton of Kings of Leon.

I’m quite embarrassed about all the PJ Harvey, to be honest.

I must have bought it to impress a girl, or something.

My excuse. Sticking to it.

So, speaking of girls.

Taylor Swift has *still* not called me.

This is totes fucking outrageous, obv.


She promised!

*time passes*

Sorry, I was bollocking my friend for still being up at this time of the night.

Don’t look at me like that!

At least I’m in bed.

She’s not.

I am listening to some of the 556 additions to my digital music library.

It’s been years since I’ve heard some of these tracks.

Others I haven’t heard before.

Albums are like that in my world.


Like this track ‘The First Day Of Spring’ by Noah And The Whale (no whale actually involved, it’s just a metaphysical construct to make the name of the band more intellectually engaging than just ‘Noah’).

I don’t think I’ve heard this album before, let alone this track.

It is, frankly, statuesque.

The track almost has the gravitas of something by The National (think up to the level of ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ and you’ll be in the right neighbourhood).

Fucking gorgeous track, ‘The First Day Of Spring’, 6′ 39″ of musical shivers.

Oh bollocks, I seem to be swearing quite a lot.


And no, I am not tipsy.

I am, however, giggling like a loon.

I have been reading the results in this week’s pocket poll.

The free-text answers to Question 10 are brilliant.

I’ve linked to the results.

See if you can spot my answer to Q10.

Anyway, that’s it.

I’m knackered and there are only five more minutes left until Sunday runs out of steam.

So goodnight.

You’re ace.

Don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

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