I got into blogging by experimenting with it when a novelist pal of mine asked me to set one up for him. I maintain his website, but he wanted his many readers to have a sort of instant contact with him. I set this one up to try it out and found I actually enjoyed writing again. I have used it to sit and write about things that interest me or have annoyed my – it is my rant page. I was dumbfounded when someone left a comment; there have been others since. I had no idea anyone would ever read what I write; nor do I write for other people, it just seems more worthwhile if the chance exists that someone might. As it is, hardly anyone does read it, but it is pleasant when someone replies.
The day I wrote my last entry I was unemployed and on the dole. The season at Culzean had ended a month before and I had been turned down for a temporary job at Caldeonian University (the same job I had supervised for five years before I left to become a countryside ranger) – yes, I was a wee bit upset! So now I was on the dole (or the "buroo" as it is known in Glasgow) being paid pennies with christmas a few weeks away. Depressed, me? NAW!!! That same day I got a call from ASDA (which Americans will know as Wal-Mart), the local superstore, who offered me a temporary job for christmas at just above the national basic pay rate. Oh well, better than nothing. I need to say here that the folk I worked with there were excellent people and deserved to be managed by better people. I have thought long and hard, but I cannot think of ever working with worse line managers than some of those in ASDA. See, they talk all that corporate crap (we were colleagues not workers) which is meant to make you feel like part of a team and while they talk the talk their actions and attitudes are always very different. I only felt part of a team through the help of my workmates. I worked outside in the car park collecting trolleys. from 3rd December till the middle of March with a few shifts inside on the checkout. For those who live outside Britain, last winter was the longest frozen spell for fifty years and ASDA finally supplied me with an outside jacket the week before I left. Let me be honest: they talk like they care, but they care fuck all for people's wellbeing. If you were unfortunate to work on checkouts 1-through-10 and it was a sunny day you had the sun directly in your eyes for 2-3 hours (even though it was freezing outside we had a lot of those this winter – fire and ice). The reason you had the sun in your eyes is because some arsehole manager though the windows looked better without the blinds and had them removed. We Care? My arse!
The thing that kept me going through the misery that was ASDA was that I knew I had the option to go back to Culzean in the Spring. I also knew I could not spend another winter like that and swore to get a permanent job this year. I am 56 years old and my age was beginning to work against me in the jobs market. I had tried over the last six or seven years to get work with Scottish Natural Heritage (the largest environmental employer in Scotland), but in vain, even though I am well qualified to work there. Last year I made them give me a list of all the positions filled in the previous five years with age and gender of those appointed. It turns out you have little chance of being employed by SNH if you are over 45, and next to no chance if you are over 50. Women outnumber men at SNH 3-2. Funny thing is, the management group at SNH is the exact opposite, go figure!
I like working for the National Trust for Scotland so I applied for the education officer job at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. I had a good interview but didn't ge the job (someone with all sorts of awards got it so I wasn't upset).
I also applied for the same position at Pollok House in Glasgow's Pollok Countryside Park and blow me, I got the job.
So, I am now the Learning Officer for a large Georgian Country House. The challenge is great and I am looking forward to it. I am, though, sorry to have left Culzean. I made some great friends there and it is such a beautiful place to live and work, but I do not need to work at ASDA anymore, yippee!
Of course, working at Pollok House means I am back living at home and I get to sleep in my own bed and wake up with the love of my life next to me, isn't life great? Yes it is!
I will write more on Pollok soon