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Caldrail's blog is missing. Or at least the last weeks entry is. Well, no, not really, I just forgot to write one. So I apologise for the tension this had caused around the world as people bite their nails hopin g my next entry will magically appear. David Cameron and Ed Milliband exchanged insults in an angry row. Three schoolgrils gave up and went to Syria. Even Jeremy Clarkson punched his producer over an argument about it and caused the BBC a multi million pound commercial loss. Sorry about that. Lucky for me I'm not actually responsible isn't it? As it happens I've also been leaving my emails untounched for a couple of weeks. Although I've been employed for three months now the many and various agencies are still sending job laerts regularly. Last week I got a phone call from an agency asking if I wanted to do two weeks labour in a role in which my certification has lapsed, that I have no qualification for, and is in the next county. No. Not really. And do they expect me to be available the next morning? Perhaps they ought to read my CV properly. I was trained for a decade to write one after all. Out! With most of my time devoted either to sleeping, shopping, or working, I've had little time to wander around my usual haunts. I popped into the local aprk on my way to the library this morning and yes, the birds are still fighting. One goose has clearly become unpopular, with the others evicting it very loudly. Know how you fell buddy. It's like my last claims advisor. She trampled me into the dust, squished my indentity, and then began trying to recreate me as an embodiement of a figment of her imagination. Turning me into someone I don't know, don't understand, or even like. And I was supposed to get a job while I was trapped in psychological quicksand? Ridiculous. Like all women, she believed she could change me. Only this time she had the authority to do it. Get On With It! Lately I've been doing less floor sweeping and more pallet collection at work. Not sure which is the most tiring. Sweeping the floors involves walking all day and constant bending down to pick up rubbish. Pallet collection requires guiding an electric truck around everyone elses in tight spaces with the clock ticking, lifting one pallet after another onto a pile for the lads to use on the container bay, and some of those pallets are seriously heavy without any load on them. The warehouse boss was wandering around the other day, as he often does, and stopped by a bunch of guys who were doing the sweeping job I used to do alone while I got on with the pallets. "You've all done very weell" He told them, to my utter chagrin, since they amble about and haven't been doing the job for longer than a week or two. "Credit where credit is due". Really? Hello, Mr Boss, I'm over here.... No? Typical. But it isn't all mindless tedium and hard work. The last time I got a pallet truck out I noticed the meter was quite low, only three bars out of thirty, and it looked unlikely the truck would survive the whole shift without the battery going flat. Those vehicles are at a premium. It's a wonder fights don't break out over who gets to drive one. Then I noticed another truck out in the warehouse with twenty bars. Some of the lads thought I was trying to do something sneaky, but no, I did speak to the colleague whose truck it was and we agreed under the circumstances that a swap was okay. Shortly after I had to take a toilet break. It happens, even to the best of us, and certainly to those of us with fifty year old bladders and energy drink habits. When I came out, my truck meter said two bars. What the...?!!!!! As it happened I didn't run of electricity. Pallets were delivered all day, I became tired and broken by the end of the shift, and the managers were happy. Two bars on my wagon, and ah'm still rollin' along.... Language Of The Week Definitely Polish. With so many eastern europeans in the warehouse it's difficult to avoid hearing it, a strange arcane tongue impossible to understand, and I suspect those pesky poles know it. So I'm making an effort to learn a litle Polish. As it happens some of the lads are delighted, and take great pleasure in pointing out that my pronounciation is hopelessly wrong. But I'm getting there... One word at a time... do widzenia!
Sometimes I encounter opinion regarding my blog. Well, it is there to be read, and I'd rather people formed an opinion good or bad than simply shrug and go back a *or* video. Mostly I hear how rubbish it is. Funny how the loudest people are those who want dismiss or abuse. No matter, but I do understand that not everyone wants to hear the latest whinge or moan from me. So before I whinge and moan some more, here's the fun bit. There I was, bored and miserable, sat on a bus bumping and swaying in unison with all the other passengers, when this old chap sat down next to me and started whinging about how bad the world was today. I agreed with him. The thing is he turned out to be an old railwayman, an engine driver, a man who had stepped onto the footplate of Castle class locomotives for the Great Western Railway in those good old days when coal was king and everyone employed when they were fourteen. He was one of those drivers who deserted the railways en masse when steam finally gave way to diesel. No way was he going to drive one of those 'tin cans'. Funny how much attachment people have toward steam engibnes. I do. The blessed things almost have a life of their own, like big animals that need constant fettling and feeding. "I'd like to get some of those yobboes on the footplate" He growled, clearly full of despair at our nations youths, "That'd teach 'em a few things". Sadly it wouldn't. I agree that working on a steam engine footplate, the control cabin if you will, is no easy option where steam engines concerned. I remember hitching a ride on a preserved line in New Zealand, and even for a little locomotive, the physical effort was impressive. never mind a much larger express locomotive gulping down several tons of coal per trip. Buit the sad truth is it would only be another job to avoid. Bad backs, migraines, too many interesting tunes on their I-pod, or perhaps just a strange tendency to shrug their shoulders would result. Aside of course from injuries inflicted by a coal shovel wielded by an irate driver I suspect. But I admit the conversation was fascinating. He told me about an accident on the railway. A train driver had misread a semaphore signal thinking he was cleared for mainline operation. The fireman realised that he'd made the mistake but by then the locomtive had accelerated to 25mph and derailed on the points, taking with it six wagons from Wills Tobacco factory. "Cigarettes everywhere" He said. "Absolutely everywhere..." I also discovered the sad tale of a canadian flight sergeant in World War Two, who was flying near the Vickers-Supermarine factory that used to be at South Marston. At low altitude he turned and a wing fell off. No chance of survivng that. Apparently his family still cross the Atlantic regularly and visit a small memorial to him. Gone but not forgotten. Not Again... I happened to catch Prime Ministers Questions before I went to work this week. There was Cameron, happily pulling the arms and legs off Mr Milliband, who sat there shaking his head. They've almost become a comedy duo. What I didn't find funny was Cameron crowing about how unemployment figures are down. Of course they are. People are being forced off Jobseekers Allowance by any means fair or foul and forced onto a hardship grant which the figures don't count. That's what they did to me. I went from trusted and hard working jobseeker to petty fraud and dishonesty in one fell swoop. An entire months dole money refused. Suddenly no-one believed my submissions. My evidence was unacceptable or 'not realistic'. For thre love of God, Cameron. Go. Your plan is only working because not enough people have cottoned on why you're able to claim it is. Beggar Of The Week Finally I'd gotten to the bus station and shivered as I strode through an empty town centre on my way home. It was perishing cold, and after sitting on a bus for half an hour, I really felt it despite wrapping up warm. "Hey mate, you got a cigarette?" Said the down-and-out in a shop doorway. Sorry , no. "Eff off then". He replied. One wionders how he expects any sympathy with that attitude. Suit yourself buddy, but stay under that cardboard, it's a cold night. By the way, does David Cameron know you're not earning a living?
I got drafted. There's no other word for it. David Cameron's Big Society means that I have social responsibility and thus I must accept that occupational contribution, voluntary work, workfare, or whatever you want to call it, is now feature of being unemployed. So I reported to the charity organisation as ordered, only unlike National Serice of previous generations, I didn't bring a sitcase and toothbrush. Not everyone who volunteers gets through basic training. A few listless youngsters faded away over the first few days. The professional malingerer Mr J was there, immedioately claiming that he suffered from this ailment or that, what cruel world world it was, that voluntary work was too lowly for him, or whatever excuse he could think of. And once again, he stomped out in moral outrage, going back to his laid back llifestyle while I and others roisk life and limb in the secondhand furniture trade. The charity I was ordered to volunteer for was a sort of furniture warehouse combined with a cafe. The sort of place whee you can drp in, enjoy a coffee, exchange a bit of banter, and buy some secondhand furniture. The furniture gets donated by all sorts of people, rich or poor, so that people without money can purchase stuff other people don't want. My first day was in the workshop, sanding down neglected garden table and chairs, and then to varnish them. Not with any old creosote mind you, thinned down yacht varnish. Only the best for the financially challenged. Of course it was pointless arguing. The workshop leader was an old craftsman who didn't talk to anyone else and got disgruntled by everyone elses lack of craftmanship. Like mine, as it transpires. So I spent the day mindlessly daubing the table and chairs with none-too-cheap varnish and getting suburnt. Aside from the lack of olive green clothes and some african american sergeant in a slouch hat yelling ayt me to do yet more press ups, the oppressive heat of our flaming July, I might as well as gotten off a bus at Biloxi in the deep south of the USA. All for Queen and country. I'm in the Charity now. Opinion Of The Week I happened to be watching the news channel Al Jazeerah the other day and along came a report about a film festival somewhere out there in the world. There's a strong theme of war films apparently, with no punches barred, covering some controversial subjects. It inspired an interview with someone who spouted this little nugget of ridiculous wisdom... The purpose of art is to force us to face our most painful truths What? That most of us are either talentless or gifted con merchants? Art exists as a form of expression. We can express anything. Romanticism, entertainment, drama, political beliefs, religious sentiment, or simply a statement of ego. If you want to comunicate pain, so be it. Personally I like my landscapes, or those pictures that invoke moods and dreams. I already know the truth of it - that I prefer the escapism, the suggestion that I'm glimpsing a time and place I canot otherwise experience.. But getting back to the point, what do we want to see in a war film? I note that the nastiness of war is becoming the prevalent theme. Camaraderie, heroism - these aren't forbidden subjects but it seems as if they're deeply unfashionable. Why is the world film industry suddenly getting so moral and determined to express political controversy? Is it because there are important messages to be said, or is it because people are bored with commercial stereotype movies, or is the constant barrage of media broadcasts politicising our view of human conflict and the injustices it generates? News reports don't change the world into a better place, so I seriously doubt art is going to. However seriously some artists want to be taken.
There's a strange mood in the town right now, and I suspect, across England, because once again our national football team has failed to reach the heady goal of winning the World Cup. This time they failed to get out of the starting blocks, so I understand, but then I don't have any time for football. Nothing wrong with the game as such, but I resent the expectations that I should be interested and discuss the subject at every opportunity. I don't like the blatant commercialism and outrageous incomes football stars can earn, or for that natter, I remain baffled as to why a bloke who kicks a football for a living can be seen as important as politicians on the world stage. All those national flags displayed in peoples front windows... But I suppose that's nothing other than a sense of disappointment. For David Cameron, it means a major reorganisation of his social diary now that he doesn't have a football team to be seen with at press events. A few less new years honours to promote. Unfortunatetly it also means that David Cameron has more time on his hands, and with busy politicians who like telling the British how to go about their daily lives, it means he'll have time to think up new ways of getting his face on television, and since trampling on the unemployed is his most popular game plan right now, I dare say it'll get worse for those of us who can't afford football tickets. As it happens I'm shortly to be put on a work placement. Unlike previous years where you get a small premium payment to make the idea worthwhile, now I have to work for my benefits. Those of you with well paid jobs will no doubt say that's a good thing. But ask yourself this - would you want to work a thirty hour week for sixty odd pounds? Especially if you want to earn a living instead of dossing at public expense? In a country that's so strident in its call for National Minimum Wages and assistance for those unable to pay their ever increasing bills? Now the Job Centre has warned me that twenty-six week placements are coming soon to a own near you. On the one hand it's a means of engaging those without jobs in some useful social capacity. On the other, the need of a politician to win popularity by forcing those on benefits into what amounts to slave labour. I'm almost willing to support the England soccer team from now on. As much as I hate football, as least a few goals will keep our politicians busy for a while. They Are Working On It. The Old College site is starting to look like a shopping centre now. Not complete you understand, but getting there. At the back, the car park has the metal underlay almost fitted, obscuring the dark interior and presenting a very bright spectacle when the sun gets low in the evening. Won't be long before the muffled thuds and rumbles from the cinema start intruding upon the normal traffic noise and singing contests. I saw a man from Morrisons, one of the supermarket chains that are going to inhabit the site. He stood looking dejected on the traffic island, watching the work in progress. "Give 'em a chance," I told him, "They are working on it." Sex And Violence of the Week The local park is proving to be a popular hoilday destination for alll manner of birds. Geese, ducks, coots, moorhens, pigeons, an assortment of white sea birds, but none of the swans you used to see every year. I watched a flock of geese arrive, circling down in formation and performing a coordinated landing on the water. That made quite a splash. With such a condensed population of birds you might expect the odd confrontation or two, animals being what they are. I watched a goose making a hasty and noisy retreat as another pecked at its tail feathers in furous pursuit. A coot chased a duck continuously, while the duck cleverly evaded its nemesis by swimming underwater in a random direction, the chase resuming once the coot spotted its quarry again. I watched amused as a fat pigeon sidled up to every other female asking for a date, or preferably, a chance to make eggs. He danced and strutted his stuff, but the ladies really didn't take to his display and wandered away. If that pigeon was a human, he'd be arrested as a sex pest. or perhaps given a starring role on a comedy show. But he's working on it nonetheless. Maybe one day he'll find love. Must be difficult for pigeons. I mean, it's not like they understand the internet or know how to use dating agencies. I noticed a certain cat too. It's the black and white one whose face bears an alarming resemblance to Adolf Hitler. I had no idea this feline adventurer ever prowled this part of town, but as cats do, sometimes they travel some distance to find a hiunting ground. It's all sex and violence, really. Oh well, it was a nice day at the park, but if you'll excuse me, I have work to do. Whether I like or not.