Happy Jobmas!

This time last year I indulged in the memories of public sector Christmas past- the celebratory meal at the local Italian that did a lunchtime special for less than a fiver; the Michelin star quality of the canteen Christmas dinner (‘she wants vegetarian gravy!’) and the jolly office Christmas card.

Another jolly public sector party

I was also panicking about my future post 31st March and not sure what I’d be doing with the twenty three hours a day that Homes under the Hammer wasn’t on telly. Post redundancy like the infinity of space was hard to imagine without collapsing another synapse.

It’s not, however, been as doom-laded as I imagined. Since April I’ve set up a business with a colleague and recruited lots of schools. Phrases like ‘tax deductible,’ ‘e marketing’ and ‘business networking’ are part of my working vocabulary and I’ve retired public sector favourites like ‘stakeholder engagement,’ ‘best practice’ and ‘benchmarking.’

I’ve had some work as an independent trainer, have worked for a consultancy and have written for a well-known supermarket chain. I’ve continued my blog and been interviewed for a Guardian article without having to be anonymous.  I’ve also networkedlike a fiend and met some amazing business people.

Worth being made redundant for.

I had been told by a lot of people that being self-employed is a lonely option but I’ve not been lonely at all. I’ve met up with colleagues for coffee on a regular basis and in setting up our business my business partner and I have had to meet a lot, our favourite office being a branch of a well-known coffee chain. We make phone calls, send emails, sign cheques, check out eBay, plan training and design learning resources in our ‘office.’ NB: one of those items is not strictly work related.

It was after one of our meetings that I checked my phone for email and found and interesting message from a local head teacher. It said something along the lines of (and I may be paraphrasing here):

You know how you said you’d rather chew your own leg off rather than go back into school? You’d better sharpen your teeth and break out the salt and pepper because I’d like to offer you a job.

She went on to offer me the acting deputy headship at her school while her deputy is on maternity leave. Perhaps I’d like to meet her for a coffee in the ‘office’ and talk about it.

I discussed the proposition with Mr R who was very supportive. I then phoned my mother who said, ‘excuse while I faint,’ and then fell about laughing. Thanks mum.

I met with the head teacher and we worked out a deal: I’d take the job for three days a week so I can continue with my other projects and will remain self-employed to make the tax/national insurance/pensions thing my responsibility and so as not to confused HMRC. A few days after I accepted the post, the head teacher found someone to fill the post the remaining two days.  I’ll be very busy but it’s not class based and I’m very much looking forward to it. I like to think that maybe the universe has come good after a crappy start to 2011.

So my 2012 is set to be busy, challenging and exciting. Just don’t ask me what I do for a living if I bump into you at a party.

Happy festive season and a happy new year to my readers. Thank you for your support over the last fifteen months and I’ll see you next year.

You’ll have to toughen up if you want to be a capitalist

I’ve been ill over the entire Christmas and new year period so the last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet in blogland. I’m usually in the rudest of rude health but the stress I’ve been under is obviously manifesting itself physically. I’ve not felt like eating much over the festive season but have strangely managed to polish off several kilos of Celebrations all by myself.

I was greeted on the last day of 2010 by a letter from the council. In bold capitals it states:

NOTIFICATION OF TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT BY REASON OF REDUNDANCY.

Happy new year to me. I’d almost managed to forget about it in a fug of cough medication and seasonal TV.

Mr R is more relaxed about my impending redundancy than me. Having worked in the private sector all his working life, he’s been made redundant several times. Once he was told to clear his desk and leave immediately so the whole idea of waiting almost a year to be let go is a strange concept to him.

It’s weird isn’t it, going into work every day and doing the best job you can in a cheery manner knowing that your employers are wringing out every last drop of goodwill before slamming the door on your career. Only in the public sector.

I kind of know what I will be doing after March so now is the time to get things moving properly, the end is in sight.

I was being a wimp over something or other last week when Mr R said, ‘You’re going to have to toughen up if you want to be a capitalist.’

‘But I don’t want to be a capitalist,’ I whinged back at him.

‘I’m afraid you’ve got no choice,’ he said.

Better get cracking then.

Happy Christmas? Bah humbug.

Christmas in the public sector is a rather joyless affair this year. No one is in the mood for high jinks and parties and seasonal spirit is definitely absent.

A public sector celebration is very different to private sector dos anyway. It wouldn’t be right or ethical to spend tax payers’ money on celebrations and parties so we pay our own way and that means that cost has to be fair so the least well-paid can afford to join in. For the last few years we’ve had lunch in the local Italian trattoria that does a lunchtime special. The trouble with lunchtime is that everyone eventually slinks back to the office to do some work and no one drinks. Whoo hoo.

And don’t even think of suggesting that we have lunch in the canteen. After Gravygate we won’t be going back there.

It’s also a tradition in the office where I work that instead of handing out cards to each other we make an amusing e-card that we send to all our colleagues across the council and make a donation to a chosen charity. We usually photograph ourselves doing something amusing and Christmassy and it gets us in the festive spirit. 

Go away, I'm working.

We didn’t feel very inspired this year but took our festive photos this morning gathered around the Christmas tree downstairs in the reception area (we don’t have even the merest sniff of tinsel in our office) and in an oblique reference to the fact that our room is so bloody cold we have penguins tapping on windows asking to be let in, we wrapped up in coats, scarves and hats.

I tried pulling my scarf up over my face in a small act of rebellion but apparently this made me look like a student protester so was not allowed. Hmph.

In a desperate attempt to inject a bit of sprit I invited everyone over to my house for mince pies next but it turns out that they’re washing their socks or something.

Oh well.

Anyone doing anything festive at work this year or have you given up in the name of austerity?

*******update*******

I’ve just seen the finished e card. It’s very nice and you can see about 1mm of my face if you squint hard. I’ll have to tell recipients that I was actually there in my last ever local authority Christmas card. Sigh.

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