Fingers crossed

Still cold but a heatwave apparently is on the way. A few days at 1C. Then after that it’s either wet and windy or a plunge back into the freezing stuff again. Think I will take the freezing stuff. We get far too much of the wet, gnarly stuff and that’s just in summer.

I’ve just finished the morning exercise. Been trying to drag out the workout for as long as possible. It’s so much better than what is to follow…..

I’m trying to work through a 56 page application form. Having to reapply for a small benefit which we get. Only small but it currently makes such a difference. Especially at a time when work is so thin on the ground. Likely to be thin on the ground for some time. Had hoped it would start to pick up in March but that is looking over optimistic. Maybe the Summer. But on the bright side I still do have a job, many have lost theirs. Work is at such a premium.

It’s ironic to look back before the pandemic. I was trying to find a new job that would better suit the homeschooling role which might be needed down the line. I was looking at so many options. Well that homeschooling gig crashed into effect and not in the way that I had envisaged. Due to the pandemic suddenly all the alternative work options have disappeared. It’s now about hoping that I can keep my current job that at least partly fits the homeschooling role. The current full time homeschooling role which may become permanent.

So at present this benefit form needs completing and it’s taking seemingly for ever. Question after question. Trying to find evidence to justify the answers. The problem is that the government has tightened up the eligibility criteria. It’s requiring more evidence. Adding more steps and hurdles. Up to date clinical opinion is required. How does that fit with waiting more than two years to see a paediatrician. Unable to access services due to cut backs. A pandemic. It doesn’t….

So just got to wade through the form. Submit it and see if the benefit continues in March. Fingers crossed.

Jarrow March

This photo was taken 4 years ago to the day. A day in October. A day early in my grief journey. A moment in our family history.

Time to turn back the hands of the clock back to before the Second World War. To another moment in our family history.

October 19th, 1936. Chesterfield to Mansfield.

From the 5th to 31st, the Jarrow March took place. 200 men walked 300 miles from the north eastern town of Jarrow to London. Jarrow was like many northern towns in that period. Bleak, stagnant and forgotten. The impact of a world wide depression was hitting this area hard. There was no employment. Unemployment was endemic. In Jarrow the unemployment rate was near 70%. The Government seemingly did not care, blind to the suffering. The Government even blocked loans that would have saved the town’s industries. Rising anger at gross inequality and injustice. The growth of racism and extreme right wing politics.

That was the context as 200 men set off on their crusade. A peaceful and dignified protest, carrying a 12000 signature petition asking for their industry to be reopened. A simple message. We want to work. We want hope.

The marchers were treated as heroes on the route. Galvanised a growing mood in the country. The petition was handed into the government with so much dignity and respect. In the short term the March failed. The Baldwin Conservative Government brushed the march and the petition aside. Clearly in their eyes some people were more equal than others. But in the long run the Jarrow March delivered. It set a new agenda. After the war the new Labour Government set about writing the wrongs. A comprehensive welfare state was introduced. Government with a conscious was established. One that cared for the less fortunate. Sadly a conscious which has started to be unpicked and now unravelled.

We live in a time of rising unemployment. Inequality and injustice are ripe. The growth of extreme politics. Sound familiar. We could learn so much from the Jarrow March. A Crusade marked down in English history. A family history as well. My family was on that march.

Black and white

Black and white. Don’t worry this is not a post about my so called football team.

There is so many grey areas in my life. So much appears to be unclear, uncertain, ambiguous. But there is black and white. No ambiguity about being a widow. Well actually that’s not strictly truein the eyes of the government I am not actually defined as a widow – well like on everything else, they can stuff off.

Another black and white issue in my life is being a single parent. No getting around that. Currently it’s me and no one else. I am the parent, the legal guardian, the teacher, the school liaison officer, the cook, the chef (OMG), the snack maker, the cleaner, the money earner, the making ends meeter, the worker, the gardener, the shopper, the clothes mender, the thing finder, the voice of reason (ha,ha,ha), the trip planner, the censor, the nurse, the pharmacist, the shoulder to cry on, the person to shout at, the present buyer, the diplomat, the planner (wow), the fixer, the Aspergers expert (🙀🤯), the dyslexia specialist, the Xbox fixer, the person who punches the WiFi router, the telephone receptionist, the purse keeper (the Accountant is really the last person who should be trusted with this), the entertainment organiser, the dishwasher, the relationship counsellor, the tidy upper, the you got enough layers on voice, the worrier, the hairdresser and the kick them out of bed bad guy.

I hear people frequently talk about single parents as like a curse of society – Enjoying the easy life – Sponging off the state – Non stop trips clothes shopping, coffee shops, gyms and nights out. I’m sorry they have no idea. It’s hard work, never ending, full time commitment. It’s incredibly isolating. It grinds you down.

BUT ultimately it’s one of the most rewarding thing you can ever do. It’s so worth the sacrifices.

A path

The farm cows are good at making paths. They are pretty straight as well. Wonder if they fancy making me a path as well….

What type of path do I want. I could set my sights really low. Ask the cows to do a path in another direction across that field. Ideally on the usual dog walking route across the overgrown and perpetually damp grass. Maybe I could set my sights a bit higher. A nice short paved path across our lawn to the Apple tree. But I could go really high and ask the clever cows to chart me a life path for the next few years. It would be nice to have a sense of direction for a change.

A nice thought but actually the signposts are already there. Signposts showing the way forward. Just have to keep reminding myself to open my eyes and look for them.

Over the last few weeks I have been looking at what jobs are available for me. Need a job that fits round Hawklad and his needs. So ideally one which is largely home based with minimal travel requirements. With the current and likely homeschooling requirements I need one which is part time with quite a lot of flexibility. Actually a zero hours based contract makes sense. A job which I can do already as I don’t have the time or probably the energy to retrain. One which pays enough to at least cover the bills.

So I’m not asking for much.

As hard as I’ve looked no suitable job popped onto my laptop screen. Actually nothing even remotely suitable appeared. Then I opened my eyes and the penny dropped. I ditched my professional career as it didn’t fit around my new life. Then I was lucky in that I found one which did. The new job just about ticked all the boxes. That’s my current job. Even one of the owners kids are friends with Hawklad. They went to his school. That makes things so much easier.

YES I have an ideal job already. Ok – It’s not ideal in 2020 as its public event based. Public Events and a Pandemic are not particularly that compatible. So the work has had to be largely mothballed until life starts to return to normal. Probably a new normal. So that’s no work for me until that new normal emerges. Hopefully that will start to happen after we get through the winter. Yes that’s no money for a few months but we can batten down the hatches and get through on savings. The worry is that too many in a similar position but are not that fortunate with savings. We are even more fortunate as the lack of work means I can focus a bit more on the homeschooling needs.

So I’ve seen the signpost to a path. Get through the next few months and then hopefully restart the ideal job. My job. I did that all by myself and didn’t need the cows to show me the way. But I still wouldn’t mind that paved path to the Apple tree though. That grass does get a bit muddy.

Sitting down

I must have run past this monument well into a three figure number. Lots of times. I wonder when will be the next run here? 2021? 2022? or later.

Without running I’ve switched to more CrossFit and Yoga. I can definitely see a few more muscles but I’m not sure how far I could run now. It’s been many many months since I last put on my running shoes. My joints would definitely need a good oiling before I tried.

Today’s yoga was definitely interesting. 10 minutes of doing what appeared to be a simple task. Standing up from a cross legged position without using my hands. The standing up bit was ok, it was the getting down bit which was the challenge. How hard can it possibly be to go from standing up to sitting on the floor with my hands behind my back. Humpty Dumpty comes to mind. Give me running any day please. I can do that. But I guess over the coming months I will get the chance to improve. Not sure my bottom can cope with the bruises for that length of time.

We had two deliveries and the postman this morning. It’s unsettling for me to see each person arrive at the door fully masked up. Imagine what it does to someone fighting fears about germs and bugs. It really did spook Hawklad. Should really say spooked him even more. My job over the week is to rig up a post box outside to stop letters coming through the front door. Another thing that increasingly bothers Hawklad. As these anxieties continue to grow he becomes more clingy with me. His health professional has told me that his fears are so ingrained that they may not start to ease until this pandemic is under control and the vaccine has been rolled out and proven to be effective.

A clear time frame is starting to emerge on our lockdown. This is going well into 2021, maybe longer. That has huge implications for school, my work and our quality of life. Quality of life in the sense that our world will be the house and garden for the foreseeable future.

Running is not happening so I had better start to learn new skills. Skills like not collapsing in a heap when I try to get onto the floor without using my hands.

Red Rose

That’s me expelled from Yorkshire. A red rose……. Historically our greatest rival has been our neighbour Lancashire. We have had bloody civil wars and battled over who should have the English Throne. We are the White Rose County. Lancashire is the Red Rose County. To this day when our teams meet the matches are often called the Roses Game. Even sometimes – The War of the Roses.

I can get away with a red rose. I was born in a Yorkshire town but on the northern edge. The Yorkshire Cricket Team would play in my town once a year. A few years later and the government decided to have a local government reorganisation and suddenly we were kind of just outside my birth county. That’s my excuse anyway.

It really doesn’t matter what colour Rose you are. We are all in this mess together. Work briefly picked up. Glimmers of hope. But that didn’t last long. Most of the work programme has been cancelled again. We help to manage public events and deal with things like cycle races. Trying to stop the roads clogging up and looking after the safety of the competitors/public. Not a great line of work to be in during a pandemic. Most of the remaining events have been waiting for news on the upcoming London Marathon. If they run then we can. Well the London Marathon has now cancelled the public element of the race. It will hold a much smaller professional race with no spectators. Worse news is that next years marathon has already been pushed back months into October 2021. With all the money and resources they have available to them and they can’t run the event safely for well over a year. Crumbs…..

So our work programme is effectively wrecked until well into next year. We might get a few small events but hardly anything. Maybe a few ‘helping to manage drive in vaccination schemes’. But we can’t spend to long fretting over this. It’s really out of our hands. Not much we can do except batten down the hatches and try to weather the storm. Try to look after the pennies. It could be so much worse. So many don’t have a job. Now that is properly tough.

Much less work has many advantages. Yes it focuses the mind on money but look on the bright side. More time to focus on Hawklad. Much reduced carbon footprint – the mad car is hardly getting used, it’s been to the petrol station once since March. And other advantages.

I was sat on the floor in the bathroom cleaning the toilet. I’ve got a rock and roll lifestyle. Listening to some fine Canadian Rock – RUSH. Thinking what a good job I was doing getting the throne glistening white again. Normally toilet cleaning duties are seen as as a real chore. Something to be squeezed in to an overly busy day. Get it done as quick as possible. But today I could take my time. Do a proper job.

Now that’s finished it’s time to fold the bathroom sheets (toilet roll) into nice shapes – just like the hotels do. Now that’s a first…….

Guides

Nice weather

I needed to remind myself of some nice weather as the actual weather is more like this….

Wet, wet, wet. 20 hours of non stop winter weather. I do love a Yorkshire summer. I guess we should call it grand weather for the Rhubard…..

Work is similarly frustrating. Since the so called government (sorry trying to cut back on my rants…) announced the relaxing of the rules we had a number of events put on our books for September and October. But as fast as I start to schedule them and fill in the details, THEY GET CANCELLED. Unless we manage to run a few of these then our organisation will have to mothball and hope to hibernate through to 2021. No guarantee that it would survive that. Sadly like so many other places.

I keep saying this but I do need to spend some time on employment options. Find some other options that can fit round Hawklad. But what…

“Dad maybe it’s time to take those Dummy Guides further. Take them to a whole new level. Dummy doesn’t go far enough. Must be people needing the Full Muppet Guide to Life. Only one person truly qualified for that job…..”

Thinking about it, it’s an endless source of material.

  • Muppet guide to Government (Co author Dominic Cummings),
  • Muppet guide to Brexit (Co author Boris Johnson),
  • Muppet guide to Parenting,
  • Muppet guide to IKEA flat pack furniture,
  • Muppet guide to weapons grade baking,
  • Muppet guide to finding your car keys,
  • Muppet guide to poetry and making it so unremittingly awful,
  • Muppet guide to homeschooling,
  • Muppet guide to shouting at school,
  • Muppet guide to animals taking over your home,
  • Muppet guide to falling asleep during Avatar,
  • Muppet guide to getting lost,
  • Muppet guide to putting your subway (Tube) ticket safely in your pocket and then not being able to find it as soon as a Ticket Collector appears,
  • Muppet guide to trying to remember where you were going in the first place,
  • Muppet guide to losing socks,
  • Muppet guide to getting paper jammed in a photocopier,
  • Muppet guide to learning and then forgetting a foreign language.
  • Muppet guide to becoming a famous Mills & Boon author,
  • Muppet guide to ineffective house work,
  • Muppet guide to understanding Tolkien’s Silmarillion,
  • Muppet guide to juggling,
  • Muppet guide to singing in the bath so out of tune you end up sounding like Bono and U2,
  • Muppet guide to healthy weeds,
  • Muppet guide to arm wrestling and shin kicking,
  • Muppet guide to getting the cellophane wrapper off a cd with a kitchen knife and then not being able to open a sticking plaster with the one remaining good hand,
  • Muppet guide to growing old disgracefully.

Horse Racing

Another post and another rose. At least I can grow a few roses. That’s a start isn’t it. A start is usually a good thing…. In this post today means yesterday thanks to WordPress refusing to post last night.

This morning I started looking at employment options. It looks like my job will get mothballed for many months. It’s so dependent on public and sporting events. Realistically these will not properly restart any time soon. So it looks like the sensible decision is to close the company down and then relook to launch again in 2021. Which leaves a decision to be made. As it’s a great fit with my single parent circumstances, do I try to survive on savings until it’s back again? Or do I find something different to either fill in the gap or completely change career path again. So today I today I started looking at available options. I have to say trying to find a job I can make fit round our Son is not easy. I really fell on my feet with this current role. Yes the money is not great but the flexibility is such a bonus. Today’s search just confirmed that. Couldn’t find one option which would work for us. Especially when you factor in the potential commitment to full time homeschooling. But I will keep looking.

Dad not sure a Train Driver is a great idea. Even on tracks you would just end up getting lost.”

True…. what about a Zookeeper

Dad your scared on spiders, snakes, wasps and parrots.”

Ok what about a librarian

Your far too noisy and you can’t even put your own books away.”

Pants that’s true. What about a parking attendant. I would get a free hat.

You are too nice, you would never hand out any tickets.”

What about a chef.

Just NO.”

How about a window cleaner.

Have you seen how dirty our windows are”

So after drawing a complete blank we headed outside to contemplate life, the universe and the state of our windows. There we heard a sound which we haven’t listened to since March. Horse Racing… Our nearest neighbour is a lovely elderly lady. I’ve known her for 18 years now. Over those years she has become increasingly frail and hard of hearing. Each year her TV volume needs to be turned up one extra setting. Definitely now turned to 11 on the 10 scale. Which is great as I can turn my music up just a little louder without fear of upsetting the neighbours. Not sure the quaint old village is quite ready for loud Mongolian Throat metal quite yet… Its certainly not something you hear from my neighbours TV.

She only watches one thing really. Horse Racing. Today Horse Racing restarted without crowds, in the UK and it’s most definitely on next door. That means my neighbour is happy. And that’s a good thing.