Tuesday, November 28


Goodness gracious!

Just weeks ago I was feeling trapped, scared, useless and unemployable. In the past 14 days I have

- been offered work with an educational employment agency in London
- been invited to interview for my PGCE course at my first choice university (London Metropolitan, on Holloway Road)
- been interviewed, and offered a job, as a Personal Tutor at a College in Walthamstow

I'm taking the Personal Tutor one. It's all come as quite a shock to my system as I only got the letter inviting me to interview on Friday last week, and here I am, just 5 days later, with a job offer. I can finally relax and start planning my move to London in the New Year now I know exactly what's going to happen to me. It's going to be a pretty harsh first few weeks learning the ropes at a new job and living in one room in James's squalid Chelsea flat, but we're getting a place of our own at the end of January and things should hopefully slow down after that. I'm praying they slow down, because James and I might both die of stress-related conditions if they don't.

I keep taking lovely deep breaths. The first I have taken for months. They feel gorgeous.

Tuesday, November 21

Ooh, I forgot...

I was in the queue Tesco to buy 10 Marlboro Menthols this morning, the man in front of me was incredibly smelly, had dirty grey hair, and a trolley full of Strongbow. I noticed these things about him, but paid little heed because (quite frankly) Wisbech is full of people fitting that description.

So he walked up to the counter and ordered "three lucky dips fer Wensdee and a coupla packsa Roffmans".

But then he enquired if there had been a Euro (but he said 'Uroe') Millions winner that week.

The lady on the counter replied in the affirmitive.

Then the man turned to me and said, "Probbly a fuckin' foreigner", before tipping me a conspiratorial wink, like I was somehow in on his little racist outburst.

I wanted to point out how it was 'Euro' Millions, and therefore it was quite likely that a 'foreigner' would win it, it being a competition that involves many EU countries, and all... I didn't though, because I was too scared of his wife, who'd suddenly turned up in her wolf-print fleece, brandishing an umbrella and looking like Bella Emberg.

Leaving yoooou is easy cos you're booootifuuul!

I resigned from my job today. I had hoped to put it off for a couple of weeks, but discovered that the daft college I work at has a six week notice period (What kind of place makes you give six weeks? Everyone knows that you give a month's notice. Duh), I start my new job in 6 weeks and 1 day, the time was now.

I wasn't quite sure how to draft the letter. So I wrote two. One was a fantasy letter that I would only send in my wildest nightmares. The other was a more realistic version which sucked up a bit so I'd still get a good reference. I then compared and contrasted the two and chose accordingly. I am going soon, and therefore don't really care about them being on the internet, so I'm posting up both versions here. They are preserved forever here in electronic form.

Realistic Version
"Dear ****,

I am writing to tender my resignation from the position of ****. I will work my six weeks notice, making my last day in your employment 2nd January, 2007.

My reason for leaving is mainly financial. I cannot afford to support myself any longer on a part-time wage. I am moving to London in the New Year, and starting a position as a LSA in a school in Hackney, before beginning my PGCE course in September 2007. Then I can hopefully begin the career I have been aiming towards; as a full time teacher of English and Media.

I have really enjoyed working in your department, and have found all staff to be helpful and supportive at all times. I will be sad to leave the college after over 2 years of employment, but I must move on if I am to progress further with my career.

I want to thank you for offering me the opportunity to work within your department, and to assure you that I will continue to work diligently throughout my notice period to make the staffing transition as smooth as possible.

Yours sincerely,"

Fantasy Version
"Dear Bureaucratic Workhorses,

I have finally succeeded in my task of finding a job that is not at your institution, and tender my resignation forthwith.

I think the straw that broke this camel's back was when you turned me down for a tutoring job because I am 'better suited to teaching', mere days after only offering me a paltry 1 hour a week teaching schedule with wages that, quite frankly, an illegal immigrant wouldn't be able to survive on. You were quite right, however, I am better suited to teaching, and that's why I'm getting the hell out of your institution and going to London, where the streets are paved with gold, not shit, and I can complete a degree course.

I will, grudgingly, work out my leave period, but don't expect me to care, or anything like that.

Please give my most heartfelt thanks to the canteen staff, who provided me with nourishment every day at 10.30am, and especially to whichever kitchen assistant ices the carrot cakes slices.


Gem xx"

You probably can guess which version I went with, obviously. It felt good to type the angry one out too, though, and give vent to my frustrations.

So now I have no choice but to grow up, move to London and be with my lovely boyfriend. I just hope he doesn't change his mind or anything!

Saturday, November 18

Oh... ok...

What a strange few days.

24 hours ago I was having hourly panic attacks and worrying myself into a frenzy about my lack of money and living situation.

Yesterday I went into my employment agency in Victoria and, straight away, was offered a full time job starting on Jan 3rd. Paying £65 a day. And it's in a school. Working with kids. So it's perfect practice for my teaching degree (fingers still crossed about that). Signed. Done. Dusted. Sorted.

£65 x 5 = £325 a week
£325 x 4.5ish = £1462.5 a month
- 25%ish for tax and stuff= £1096 a month


I can move to London.

James, my long-suffering boyfriend, is delighted. But for me it hasn't quite sunk in yet. I feel like I can't let myself enjoy it all, that I don't deserve to enjoy it all.

We're going for a big curry tonight in my favourite Indian. So hopefully it'll sink in with my naan bread.

Wednesday, November 15

Does anyone else ever get this thing...

I keep getting this thing where I get a sudden craving for chocolate, and the more and more I try to forget about it, the more and more I think about it, so I call my boyfriend or talk to my friends to try and distract myself, and it's almost like I can hear what they're saying... I mean... their lips are moving and everything, and forming words, but all I can hear is 'mmm chocolate' over and over again, so I close my eyes to try to stop the noises and when I open them again they're suddenly not people anymore, but they are big bars of creamy chocolate, and they are wearing top hats and carrying canes and they are dancing around to cheeky keyboard music in perfect formation, performing a confectionary caberet before my very eyes.

Tuesday, November 14

Momentary happiness > all that other bollocks

So I've been on a bit of a downward curve these last few months and it's made me think a lot more about how I cope with situations and what triggers these depressive periods in my life. This, in turn, led me to consider what makes me happy. And I decided it's not earning over £20k a year, or having a nice flat, or being married or having children.

It's much more fleeting than that.

For me it's usually a Marlboro Menthol, a glimpse of my boyfriend, a word from my brother, a big crushing bear-hug from my Dad. It's a coffee and a chat with my best friend, driving my car through a big puddle and feeding my rabbits yoghurt drops through the wire of their hutch. It's watching tv late at night with my Mum, a piece of chocolate, a walk in Sandringham woods on a crisp autumn day and a cup of tea.

Those are the things that can cause me to stop for a moment and actually consider happiness. And even if I only have a few of those moments every year then it's worth all this bi-polar bollocks.

I can't be bothered...

... to think of anything witty to say about this illustration of Joe McIntyre from NKOTB that my sister drew in her holiday scrap book in 1990. I'm going to let the image speak for itself.

Note pencil 'x' on face. I did that when she pissed me off.

Wednesday, November 8

*shameless plug alert*

I registered with YouGov a month or so ago, thinking that perhaps I'd earn 50p for a survey and have done with it. But now I see that my account currently stands thus:

Bonus Credit (including Joining Credit)

Survey Credit

Referer Credit

Total Credit

... which means I am nearly 1/4 of the way to receiving a cheque for £50.

It is well easy to join up too, you just click this 'ere link and it lets you set up an account straight away. And if you refer a few of your mates you'll get extra credit for referring them!

Free money! It's like a dream I had once...

White hair, frogs legs and Hells Harpies!

I had yesterday afternoon off work and decided to go for a swim to try and release some of the cash machine anguish that had occured earlier on in the day. I checked the local pool timetable online and saw that 2-3pm was reserved for a Ladies Swim session, which seemed perfect. Driving into the leisure centre, however, I started having doubts. There appeared to be an extraordinary amount of 'mature' women going in through the front entrance, carrying suspiciously bulky Tesco bags. There were even more of them in the changing rooms, moaning about the slightly nasty smell coming from the drains and storing their fleeces and woolly hats in the lockers.

I showered and entered the main pool area.

It was awash with elderly women. All wearing plain black swimsuits, all with identical white perms and ALL doing breaststroke. I stood in the shallow end watching their white heads bobbing up-and-down, up-and-down rhythmically in perfect unison, none of them ever going so far into the water that they got their perms wet. It seemed such a shame to ruin this peaceful watery idyll with frantic frontstroking, so I found a relatively empty spot and joined in.

But I just can't seem to get the kick right. Old people kick just like frogs, only a bit more slowly. But, try as I might, I cannot get my frog kick to work. It took me about 2 minutes to swim a length using this method. And it only takes me 30 seconds if I just pump my legs up and down.

So I resorted to my time-honoured freestyle kicking method, with a front crawl arm movement, which annoyed the olds no end because there was a lot of splashing.

About half an hour in an old man appeared at the poolside wearing a pair of tiny speedos. A ripple of apprehension (or was it... hunger...) travelled through the pool. Surely this, this man was not going to attempt to enter the water, surely the lifeguards would do something about this travesty. The old man stood reading a notice for about 2 minutes, I suspect he was stealing sneaky gawps at the old totty out of the corner of his eye. I did a length backstroke and when I emerged from the water he had disappeared. Poof. Gone. I think the old women rose out of the water like aged Medusas and dragged him into the murky depths never to be seen again. I think that's why the leisure centre have to reserve an hour in their pool schedule, to provide hidden cover for these aqueous harpies. And I think the old man was provided by the leisure centre as a human sacrifice to sate their lust for the taste of human flesh and prevent them from reoffending in public.

I think that's what goes down at the Hudson Pool in Wisbech on a Tuesday. I'll never know for sure, because I'm at work on Tuesdays for the next couple of weeks and will be unable to observe the goings on.


Tuesday, November 7

Back to the Future

The cash machine swallowed my bank card today.

I have a lot of sympathy with fellow debt-types.

I mean, essentially the reason behind debt is weakness, and I make no excuses whatsoever for my financial history, it is entirely my fault. But I still feel sorry for people in debt.

I had a hunch that there was something amiss, because the chip and pin machine in the chemists played up when I tried to pay for my sackful of eczema creams and special shower gels. So after the chemist I hightailed it to the bank to try and get some cash out. I typed in my pin, hit 'Cash', chose '£50' and then the machine ATE my bank card.

I started to get that sick, sweaty feeling I always associate with money problems. But rather than run away and hide in bed (which is what I usually do), I walked into the bank, went up to cashier and said 'THEMACHINEATEMYCARDANDICAN'TGETITBACK', to be fair, she didn't stare too much at my wild-eyed, looney face.

It transpired that I had gone past my overdraft limit that one time too many, and that meant that they were withholding my card until 'my account is in order'. I immediately transferred funds from my ISA into my current account to bring it back down below the limit. But then I had the shame of calling up Telephone Banking and ordering a new bank card.

"I can only offer you a Solo card today, Miss O'Donnell, I think you know why."

Great. So now I'm back to using a cash card that I grew out of when I was 18. And the sad thing is, I am actually a bit relieved. This recent setback had infantalised me and forced me to organise my cash differently. And, let's face it, a Solo card is the monetary equivalent of a straight-jacket.

Monday, November 6


Not a lot of people know about my secret penchant for the ultra-silly, sci-fi chick-prog 'Charmed'. It's something I keep to myself, as the mere mention of it usually causes rolly eyes and tuts. For those of you that know nothing about it, it's a bit like Buffy, only it's about three witches. It's extremely silly and makes very little sense to those who don't follow it, but I really enjoy Charmed.

It's usually on Living TV about 3 times a day, and if I've nothing better to do I'll watch an episode, even though I've seen most of the old ones about five times.

But tonight was different, it was a show I hadn't seen before and it felt all sad and weird. And when I clicked the 'info' button on my remote control it said it was the 'very last episode'.

I was NOT prepared for that.

I feel all sad and empty. A bit like I did when Denise Van Outen left the Big Breakfast (except this time I didn't cry).

My Christmas List

Yes, yes, I know it's only November, but this is more so I can keep track of them than you!

1. A Take That Official Calendar priced at £4.99
2. A Pink iPod Nano priced at £129
3. A Take That Tour DVD priced at £12.99
4. An Art Of Bathing hatbox from Lush, priced at £39.95
5. A Topshop voucher priced AT YOUR DISCRETION
6. A Deal Or No Deal board game
7. Some Vera Wang perfume priced at approx £50
8. An Indoor Rabbit Cage at £49.99
9. A Dualit Waffle Iron (price unknown)
10. A Stewart Lee ticket for December priced £15
11. Back to Basics by Christina Aguilera, approx £9
12. Rudebox by Robbie Williams, priced at £8
13. A Checked dress from Topshop at £38
14. Some cozy pyjamas £22

Do Google searches and that...