There Is No Normal

Right now, my sleep pattern is well and truly up the wall.

For the past week or so, having done three night shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I have been trying to work out a sensible routine that I can stick to. Unfortunately, my body is having none of it, and it’s not helped by simply going to bed earlier and earlier, thus putting me back into my old sleeping ways.

No, that’s no good at all. What I need to do is like today, even though I’ve just finished a 7 hour shift which was extremely busy, and managed to make almost no mistakes whatsoever (except trust one customer for just a little too long, meaning my till was slightly down at the end of the shift…) … and stay up late.

Tomorrow I will be doing a night shift again. That’s all good, but this week they’re going to be much more difficult as they’re in a very busy location. And the customers just don’t fucking go to bed. Ever. One might think a lull would arrive after a certain hour, but it doesn’t. They just keep on coming. And they’ll happily queue up at the window. It’s no bother to them at all.

It’s at times like that, though, that I’m always grateful when I’m behind the bulletproof glass and I’ve got a safely locked door. It makes what should be a rather arduous job much more tolerable. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say the night shifts are much better simply because things aren’t so frantic for you. There’s much more time to get your banking right, get your safe drops spot on, process the vast amounts of change the taxi drivers give you, and make sure things generally run smoothly.

So while I’m readjusting to working life, I’m actually being hit with work for my business. Got a couple of customers ongoing at the moment, and I’m in the middle of some PC sales, which should be concluded shortly. The miracle of the past few days was that I actually sold a PC through my website. I’m very happy with that, it makes a very pleasant change indeed. If only I thought it would keep going.

Tomorrow I’ve got to try and finish these few jobs off and get my room in order. It’s such a horrible mess at the moment that I hate going up there. And I hate it up there anyway because it’s either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. And right now, it’s obviously too hot. I like the sun. I’m enjoying the heatwave. But at night… it has to cool down at least a bit.

Unfortunately it doesn’t. And worse, I have to try and sleep during the day in a room that at times reads 34C on the thermometer. (Don’t ever get a loft conversion. They’re totally uninhabitable)

So it’s a strange old life I’m leading at the moment. Always on the go, always doing something. I just wish more of my time actually earned me a living rather than kept me from getting bored. After all, it’s not like I’m all that enthused about the potential prospect on the horizon of me becoming the secretary of my local junior football league. Great!

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It’s a truism of my life that I can sit at home for days, enjoying the nice weather, but then when I’m actually required to do something, actually go somewhere, the weather will turn.

And so it has came to pass again this morning. The rain is pounding away on the roof above me, and I’m sitting here desperately hoping that it will stop by 11am – the time I need to be heading out of here.

It’s been a desperate few days. Not only have we been dealing with my brother’s broken nose, and the nightmare of trying to get the police interested (even though we have a photo of the perpetrator, his name, contact details and CCTV footage!), but in my own life there have been the usual turns for the worse.

Number 1 – I have wasted a significant degree of time chasing after people and applying for jobs that either a) don’t exist; or b) were already sewn up. I’ve tried to secure some part-time work recently, including applying for an old job I once did. Now my calls aren’t returned, and in any case it was their turn to reply after I’d jumped through all the hoops. If they’re not bothered, then fuck them. I’ve had enough of being pleasant to people only to get it thrown back in my face. It is any wonder why I want to be self-employed properly? I hate sucking up to bosses – “Oh yes, I really want this job because it will be a wonderful challenge for me and I want to work for such an outstanding company that will help me develop as an individual!”. Bullshit. You want the job because you need the cash and you’re sick and tired of watching Flog It! and Jeremy Kyle.

Number 2 – the football club seems to be heading into ruin because of the incident, and ongoing traumas which were enhanced still further on Saturday. Not only is it a logistical nightmare, but the so-called “kids” were playing against (many of them are overage) are thugs and have no class. Same goes for the managers. Then there is the problem of leagues threatening to go renegade and quit the local FA structures. Total nightmare, and all because of a few egos and the low level of intelligence that most people running football clubs and leagues have.

Number 3 – due to my brother’s broken nose, I have assumed all his responsibilities for delivering his newspaper round. Yes, that does mean I take his pay, but for £20 it’s a lot of pissing around. For instance, today I’m going to a job, then coming home to do the paper round, then going back out to do another job. Lunacy. But it has to be done, and no one else can do it.

Number 4 – my elder sister is a constant source of agony and woe to us all, but particularly my mum, who feels like she has to help her do everything, from pay her bills, to finding her a new place to live.

And in the midst of all this, there are birthdays and Father’s Day. They’re meant to be happy, joyous occasions. But no one feels like celebrating anything because of the continuous compounding of misery we’ve suffered the past two weeks or so.

I despair. I really do. I wish I had good news to report, but there just never seems to be any. The only good news is that at least I’m fit and healthy. Not everyone can say that.

Out Of Joint

As usual, it’s been an odd few days.

The most recent farce has revolved around my football team. As normal. This time, after a match, a thug playing for the opposition side came over and punched my brother in the nose, breaking it.

I’ve never seen a broken nose before, despite it being one of the most common injuries people suffer. The blood was everywhere, and it took over two hours for it to stop. The perpetrator of the assault got away – but we are in the very fortunate position of having photos of him, having his name, and playing affiliated football against registered opposition, the player will be dealt with.

And not just by the local football association. No, we have gone to the police as well, and we will press charges. Might teach the fucker a lesson. No more than he deserves; he’s probably got away with it for years. A lot of these players are thugs, and they play sports as an excuse to get aggression out of their system, caring little for who they damage in the process. The whole event was so pre-meditated, and yet so cowardly, that my brother had no chance to defend himself. He was just struck hard on the nose. I saw it with my own eyes. It didn’t look that bad at first – but I can’t believe he had never done it before. Hopefully we can get him banned from football for life, because no other player should have the misfortunate to play against him again.

So that’s caused us no end of trauma in the past 24 hours. The annoying thing about it was that we had just won the game. It took a shine off everything, and now we don’t want to play any more. After the incident of the broken leg at Christmas, I’m starting to think someone is telling us we shouldn’t run a football team. We’re not allowed to have success. As soon as we get it – it’s taken away so cruelly.

Meanwhile, I’ve been desperately trying to find some work. I’ve entered into a serious lull at the moment with my business, so I’ve been looking for something part-time. No luck. I even contacted a former employer. Something might still happen, and I’m desperate for a response, but I hate the waiting. It’s just horrible.

Of course, the whole thing would be academic if my failure of a business actually did something. I’m starting to think my phone has been disconnected. Maybe it was a bad idea to only have a mobile number? Some people don’t trust calling a random mobile. Somehow the landline just looks more trustworthy. It means there’s a physical presence of some kind. I would think more carefully about that, but the cost… unthinkable. I think that’s half my problem. I’m not prepared to spend money I don’t have.

Not much of an entrepreneur am I?

Simmering

Life has taken on such a rather intriguing state at the moment that I think “simmering” is the best word to describe it. It’s that state of being gently on the go… but at any moment the right sort of pressure will turn that into major action.

If only. I keep getting little jobs for work, helping fix computers here and there, but nothing major. Yet, I sense that there is a breakthrough just around the corner. Maybe this is more hope than expectation, but I really think that now I actually have a computer to sell, and a business model revolving around shifting cheap computers, we might actually be getting somewhere. The test now is to see whether Google Adwords really works…

Meanwhile, the football season draws to a close. It’s not been a good year for my youth team, they haven’t won a match yet. They’ve drawn a few, but they just don’t seem to have the bottle to see them out and get the win that they deserve. It’s not that they’re rubbish, well there are a few who are, but I think it’s been so long since they won that they just don’t know how to any more.

But this season has been useful for me. It’s given me a number of ideas for how we can go forward. And now I’m at the helm of this humble organisation, I intend to make a lot of changes to make it bigger. So there are some exciting times ahead. We just have to get around the sheer incompetence of the FA first, who have deleted my dad’s record from the club systems because they thought he was the same person as me. Thanks for that. And now their system has been broken for over a week.

So that one’s simmering along too. At any moment, it could burst into life.

Oh, if only it would. If only I had lots and lots to do. But then again, I’m not sure having lots to do on the youth football is necessarily a good thing. After all, it doesn’t pay me anything. In fact, if I were to use my A-Level business studies for once, I could even say that it has an opportunity cost in terms of the time I no longer have to pursue my business interests.

Not that there’s much to do right now. But, oh, there could be!

There’s even talk that one of my former customers wants me to get involved with his business idea. Well, they always say to have a number of irons in the fire. I could well do that too. I have the time for it. After all, these days I get up early every day, around 6:30am… and the mornings seem to drag if there’s nothing to do.

But if there’s nothing to do, I generally find something. And, in the theme of the subject of this post, it is almost always cooking of some kind. Yesterday, I baked a so called healthy flapjack. Healthy meaning no butter/margarine, no syrup and low sugar. I used two bananas and raisins, skimmed milk and an egg to stick it all together. And it tastes pretty good actually – very much like one of those breakfast cereal bars. Or like a Tracker. I haven’t had one of those for years.

My talent really does have no end…

On Death Row

There’s a certain something to be said for Sunday mornings. Sitting here, waiting. I’ve done the usual Sunday morning chores: which is almost always washing all the dishes from last night, because on Saturday night, no one here can be bothered to clean them. Fair enough, it’s my job. I don’t pay any keep, so I pay it in other ways.

But in reality it’s just a distraction. Something to keep my mind off the inevitable defeat that lurks around the corner. Yes, it’s football time again. And to complement it, despite it not having rained all week, it’s now pouring down outside. It’s as if the weather wants to join in with the overall feeling of melancholy.

Because it’s been the same every week this season. We haven’t yet won a game. We have come close to winning them, but we’ve either lost our nerve or failed to take our simple chances when they fell to us on a plate. We have drawn a couple, but a draw’s not good enough. We simply have to win. 

There’s no good reason why we haven’t won, in truth. We are as good as half of the teams we’re playing. I just think we don’t know how to win. We don’t have the mentality to cut teams apart and then protect our lead. We have to be made to work ludicrously hard in order to score just one goal, and then sometimes the opposition gets the benefit of a lucky bounce or a fluked deflection and they get a result with breathtaking ease.

Suffice it to say that it’s somewhat annoying by now. And it makes Sunday mornings such a depressing time. The inevitability of it all is what’s so frustrating. We get all our gear ready, get ourselves mentally prepared, and step out the door on the way to other thrashing. It is the unspoken truth. There are normally five of us, me, the manager, and three players. We don’t mention it, but we know what’s coming. 

It’s all so disappointing, really. And on top of all that, we’re now stuck in the middle of a petty political wrangle between the management of our league and the management of the local county FA. It’s not a nice spot to be in. It might all get resolved amicably, but even if it does, the bad blood is now so much that we wouldn’t want to be part of this league. 

If all goes how I hope it would, then there may be another opportunity around the corner. A rather more exciting one. I’ve decided that what my life is missing is a big project. I want to be tested with a large scale piece of work, something that I can work hard on and dedicate my present existence to. I was hoping that would come with my business, but so far it’s not happening. Maybe in a couple of weeks, but not yet.

There is a chance that my league will fold, giving an opportunity to form a new one. A much better one, with proper organisation. I want to do that. I know I could do a much better job than the rubbish they throw at us on a regular basis. They’re all so incompetent, the kind of people that football tends to attract: brutish idiots who think that just because they can kick a ball they know all about the game. But they lack the critical organisation and intelligence skills that are necessary in order to administer a big project like this. 

If it happens, if the window opens, I will jump through it. But there’s still a lot of ifs, buts and maybes on the road ahead. We’ll see.

In the meantime, there’s a game to be a lost. The trapdoor is waiting to open. The noose is tight. Might as well get the obvious over with.

What Happened?

I’m finding it rather hard to accept that the past week went by so quickly. But it did, just like every other half-term. My parents were both off last week, as were all my brothers and sisters and my nephew. So the entire family were all either not in school or not in work. 

And somehow, because they were all hanging around here all week in some form, that made the week just disappear. Even though I can’t remember that much of what we did, apart from trying to sell stuff on eBay. 

But at the same time, I think it also felt so quick for me because I had stuff to do. My work has once again dried up, but from Tuesday to Friday I had actual, real paying work. And now I have been paid, it’s back to sitting here waiting for the phone to ring or trying to dream up a new vision for the future.

I guess this is what self-employment is like. You live on your wits, waiting for work, which could come at any time. And then sometimes you’ll get work and it’ll be too much. Oh, I wish that would happen right now. I could do without another couple of weeks sitting here…

Though there’s not actually much chance of that at the moment. It seems everywhere I turn there’s something going on. The latest activity has come from the direction of my football team. Last Tuesday there was something of a crisis meeting at the league my team is a member of. The crisis is being caused because the league leadership intend to form a new, independent, league, and assume that everyone is happy to join in. Not so fast, said I and a couple of allies. We want to derail it. And that’s made us very popular indeed…

Today is the next crisis meeting, but this team the teams will be meeting with our local FA with a view to working out a solution to this problem. In fact, if all goes as I think it will, then I could end up volunteering to be a central organiser of the league, or at the very least a member of its management committee. Our goal, we think, is to topple the current management. We think we can do it once we put the full facts out to counteract the gross lies being told by the league secretary. 

So that means today is also going to be full of action. Well, tonight, as the meeting is at 7:30pm. But I can’t wait, as we’ve been worrying about the future of our local football league for months now. It seems we may finally be approaching an endgame.

The problem is that today is Pancake Tuesday. And, you know, it has been five years since I lived at home on Pancake Tuesday. In all those years, I’ve been living away, and I’ve never really bothered, possibly because I probably won’t ever be able to make a pancake as good as my mum. So why would I bother?

But today I am at home. And there will be pancakes made. 

I think it’s going to be a good day.

And that, my friends, is what happened.

Newness

There is a feeling of entering unchartered territory at the moment. It’s also a feeling that’s filling me with dread.

This is the moment. February has arrived, and in this month I have paid to run a series of classified ads in local papers. If they are noticed and people give my business a try, I will be on the way. If they don’t… well, all is not yet lost, but it wouldn’t be a very good sign. Oh no.

So it is in this month that I feel like I will discover my fate, whether I’m chasing shadows with this business venture or if I might just possibly be onto something. As is normal with anything to do with me, I am expecting the former but hoping for the latter. It just seems to be too much to hope that there’s going to be sufficient business near me that I will be able to get access to. Though there is always the opportunity to diversify and offer more services to increase the potential customer base, there would come a moment where I would feel like I’m fighting a losing battle…

The state of newness has also come with other attachments. Earlier in the week, the workmen finished our new bathroom, which was a snip at a mere £4,100, money that I’ve loaned to my parents for them to pay me back over several years. A good investment, for me, as it keeps them off my back – a very useful bargaining tool! But it’s so much better than what we used to have. For a start, we actually have a real shower. That’s a wonderful advance, as I absolutely hate getting a bath. It’s just too slow, and in here we don’t have a big enough hot water tank to get a decent bath out of it. But in general it looks so much better anyway. That’s real progress, at long last. We’ve only been living here for 12.5 years…

The other new thing has been the computer that I’m typing this post on. I now have a brand new laptop. It’s nothing special, cost me £320, but it does exactly what I want, which is to go on the internet. No need for snazzy specs when all you do is surf the net every now and then. It will also, hopefully, have a dual purpose when I take it with me when going to look at someone else’s computer. I figured it would make sense to be able to have a working PC to help diagnose what’s wrong with a broken one. The wonders of Google, you see. So that’s very good. Apart from the fact that I accidentally left it on charge overnight, which is certain to damage the battery, something laptops are particularly prone to suffer from…

And there was one more new thing… my rather impressive business cards turned up. They told me it would take 21 days. In fact it took 10, making me very glad I didn’t pay any more for their “quicker” services. I can’t wait to start giving them out to customers and trying to spread the word. It’s exciting, but the challenges ahead are daunting.

There could be another new thing today which might just make me feel a whole lot better. Yes, it would be a novel situation if my football team actually won a game today. Not gonna happen though, sadly. Oh well…

2009

2009 started with either an eerie co-incidence or an example of perfect timing. 

We rushed out into the street, me checking the time on Teletext with just 50 seconds to go. I don’t normally get ready so late, but I had decided to give the pre-midnight part of our usual New Year party a miss… instead choosing to sit with my brothers in the front computer room. It was actually nice to spend some time with them, I don’t normally do that. Anyway…

I looked at the clock, it was too late to synchronise my watch with Teletext, so I took a rough stab at it. At 20 seconds to go, I started the countdown and ran out to join the rest of the family in the street. 

At exactly zero seconds, a firework went off. That was pretty impressive. I think it was a co-incidence, but it was a nice one.

After midnight I joined the party, having a pretty good time. Not everyone was here, but there was enough people to talk to. But there was a surprising degree of very small children making a lot of noise. My cousins and an uncle have had children recently, and by Christ they made a lot of noise. A lot. Some of them are toddlers now, and bringing them all together is a deadly combination. Lots of activity. Too much for me, I wanted a quiet New Year!

Fat chance of that in this family. But it was all over by 3:30am, a much more reasonable time after the terribly late finishes of previous parties. After five hours sleep, I felt pretty good. It’s amazing how little sleep you actually need.

But now to consider the forthcoming year. 2009. It always feels weird writing the New Year, which is why it’s a tradition to name the first post of each new year after the year itself. It gets me used to it. 2009. Bloody hell. Was it really nine years ago when we celebrated the millennium? That’s frightening.

2009 is a make or break year for me. Now a graduate, a graduate with a damn good degree from a damn good department in an average university. I should really be able to do something with that. But, most probably, I won’t. Simply because I don’t want to. It just doesn’t seem the right direction for my life.

But what does? Well, that one has to be answered in the first few months of this year. I simply must either have a job or be properly self-employed by the end of February. That is my deadline and I can’t afford to let it slip. My life is going by and I don’t have any money to live it. That simply has to stop.

In general too, the time going by with me idle is not good either. That would be solved if I got a job, so I’m not too worried about that. But I need to be enjoying my life more anyway. I’m not right now, and that’s extremely sad. We only got one life after all.

But for the first four months of this year, I know I will have to live with the trauma of recent events. Until our injured player is walking around again, the burden of guilt, what ifs and sorrow of seeing someone suffering and being partly responsible, even in just a tiny way, will remain with me. For me, April can’t come soon enough.

That will occur naturally, which is a good thing. Unlike the job search, which needs me to get off my arse and do something about it.

I also feel that I’ve got something big in me this year. Whether that is the self-employment front, or some other thing, I feel the time is right for me to achieve it. Lately, I’ve been thinking seriously about my ambition to run a much larger football team. That would be a good challenge. There is a way I could do it too. Gonna have a think about that.

And in life, I could do with something different. Will I actually have a long term girlfriend this year? Hmm, that’s one I’m really unsure about while I’m living at home. Or maybe I’ll move out for good. Somehow I doubt it at the moment, but I’ve gotta say I’d like that to happen right now. 

For my family, I’d like to be better friends with my brothers. I’ve already started on that. We need to do more stuff together. I see my dad’s family, none of whom hardly ever see or even speak to each other. Maybe once a year for Christmas. It would be a terrible shame if we ended up like that. On a darker note, I’m really not sure what to expect from the rest of my family health wise this year. That’s going to be a constant source of worry.

So there is a lot on the line for me this year. I’m filled with a little foreboding about it. Yet the uncertainty is part of the excitement.

Here goes nothing.