About Me

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I'm 57 years old, working full time, wife, mother and grand mother, wishing that I wasn't working full time! I love and enjoy our children and grandchildren, our dogs and cat, our garden and allotment. I love crafts - knitting, sewing, crocheting, patchwork and restoring old furniture. I love to go to country auctions and love thinking that I've got my self a bargain!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hissing Sid

Afternoon All,

What a day! It just hasn't stopped raining at all - when is it ever going to end? we've got to the point where we're thinking of planting rice at our allotment because it really does resemble a paddy field! - there's that much water, and we're in a drought!!!

I was recently telling you before about my days working in housing, in the 1990's  - here's another memory. One day I had a phone call from a young gentleman who had recently moved into one of our void properties and he wanted someone to go out and do a visit as he had something to show us.

 I went out there, to be told that when he'd gone into the gas cupboard, which was situated in the corner of their lounge to put some money on the gas meter - a snake had popped it's head up through a hole in the floor boards!

He said that he couldn't believe his eyes and so he'd left the cupboard open and left the gas fire on in the room and had just sat watched and lo and behold the snake had popped up again - he thought it was popping up as it was nice and warm in the room. I thought 'right I've heard everything now - how the hell was I going to solve this one'. Trying to sound as if I knew what I was doing and this was an every day occurrence (?) I told them that I was just popping back to the office to make a few phone calls and then I legged it- I don't like snakes!

I got back to the office and phoned the RSPCA who said that they would send an officer round asap, got in touch with a carpenter and asked him if he'd meet me back at the property asap.

We all got back to the property around the same time and I quite kindly let the RSPCA man and the carpenter go in first - I kept my distance on the front door. The RSPCA officer said that if he could just get a look at the snake he would know what to do - they took up half the downstairs floor  and they thought that they'd  got a glimpse of Hissing Sid (we'd given the snake a nickname whilst I'd been in the office!) but they couldn't be sure.

The house had been built just after the war and had cavity walls and it was part of a terrace so it was completely open across all 3 properties under the floor boards and they just couldn't see it. Hissing Sid had done a disappearing act!

The young gentleman and his family didn't want to leave the house, they'd waited years to get it (having lived in a flat before hand) so we agreed that the carpenter would go round and fill in even the slightest hole in the floorboards in every room.

The RSPCA gentleman was of the opinion that Hissing Sid could have escaped from the care of the previous tenant and that it would find it's own way out - (un)fortunately the 2 properties either side were owned by owner occupiers, so I didn't have to worry about those properties.

I did have a phone call from one of the owner occupiers to ask whether it was true that there was a snake in residence under these properties, so I said yes and told him to do the same as our carpenter had done, fill in even the smallest of holes.

Hissing Sid was never seen again! - and for me, it was just another working day in the life of a council officer!!!

Speak again soon Byeee xxx

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cruel cold fingers...........

(Our garden taken a few weeks ago now
right hand side is 'work in progress'!)

Evening All

I hope you are all fit, well and happy this weekend. We are all fine here life plods on doesn't it? I no sooner set off down the motorway for work each morning and before I know it I'm back on it coming home and then it's another week done!

Things are not brilliant at work - murmurs of redundancy are being bandied around and of course they just want more and more from you, it's getting to the point where they expect a 10 hour day packed into a 7 1/2 hour day - and what's a lunch break? I've forgotten what it is to have one now.

But for the time being it's a job and it is paying the bills and I'm lucky to have it (trouble is management know that and they don't want someone with age, experience and local knowledge, they just want what us old ones call 'newbies', people with a degree, under 30 and who come cheap and who aren't going to stay around for the next 22 years, like I have!) Sorry - I used to be so proud of the place where I work but just recently............well, words fail me).

I try not to watch the news if I can help it - too depressing half the time - but apparently we're back into recession - I'm not surprised, with the idiots we've got running this country. I don't think it matters who you vote for they're all there to line their own pockets and bolster their own ego's.

Although I must admit I would really like to punch Ed Milliband on the nose really hard - every time he opens his mouth and talks down that stupid nose of his I just want to punch him! and Ed Balls - he's another one I could easily punch in the gob - it would put paid to the drivel that comes out of it. Every time I look at Nick Clegg - I think that will teach you, jumping in to bed with David Cameron hasn't done him any good has it - he must rue the day and all so's that he felt a bit important!!

I don't know if it's my memory that's playing tricks but this recession is lasting so much longer than the other ones I've lived through.  In the 1960's my Dad always worked in the car industry and I remember that as a child he was regularly put on short time, because the car unions  had brought Rover etc., out on strike. I remember one year when my Mom made my little brothers trousers, shirts, pyjamas, and winter coat on an old sewing machine (before the days of electric ones) and my skirts, blouses, and nighties -  my Nan knitted all our jumpers and cardigans to save money too.

Then when I'd just started work (early 1970's) we had the 3 day week and the power cuts - I was a telephonist at the time and I can remember answering the old elastic pull cord telephone system by candlelight on an afternoon.

Then (late 1970's) when I was first married with my children all little - the prat I was married to worked in the same factory as my Dad and each night I'd put the news on and it would be so many more hundreds had been made redundant that week, and the car unions still kept bringing everyone out on strike - do you remember Red Ken ( I think he worked at the Rover plant) - he was forever on the news bringing his members out on strike. I used to hold my breath and hope that my Dad's place wouldn't be affected.

I'm sure at the same time we had the bread strike - again I remember standing with my son in his pram (it was what I call a proper pram - an old to me 'silver cross' high pram but it was brilliant) queueing up to get a loaf of  bread (this was way before bread makers were even thought of!)

But none of these recessions seemed to last as long as this one has......this one seems to have cruel cold fingers that just keeping squeezing us all tighter and tighter - when will it all end?..........

My Nan used to talk about the great depression - the way this recessions going it will match the 1930's one - that was when my Grandad used to dive into the canal to try to find some of the coal that had dropped off the coal barges and anything was broken up and burnt if they could use it to make a fire to keep warm (in the days before gas central heating).

Oh well (now I've thoroughly depressed myself and anyone that's reading this!) I'm going to sit by our wood burner and get warm - who would believe that it's the 1st May on Tuesday!!

Have a good week all Byeeee xx

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Hello there and Happy Easter to you all.

I talked yesterday about my time as a rents officer in the 1990's, and some of the evictions I did then well I've remembered another one I did, that you may like to hear about.

I had an eviction coming up which should have been a walk in the park, it was a marriage break up  and the lady of the house had left and taken the children with her, the gentleman was a long distance lorry driver, who had a new lady friend and wasn't bothered about losing the house - it should have been a case of just going through the motion, until the day before when his mother- in - law contacted me to say that the child's rabbit had been left in an upstairs bedroom - he had given her a set of keys to go and fetch the rabbit, but she was a bit nervous about going there on her own and would I meet her at the property whilst she went in.

I said no problem - as we hadn't formerly got possession, I couldn't enter the property but I would stand outside whilst she went in and retrieved the rabbit. I met her outside the property and she opened up and went in, I could see that he had removed all his belongings through the open door.

She went in to the property in a blue dress and went up the stairs and when she came out she was in a brown dress. The rabbit had had fleas, when it was put in the bedroom, the heat and the nice warm carpet had caused the fleas to multiple and she was covered. She looked at me and  just said "Look at my dress!"

They used to teach us that if we felt threatened at any time to back step away from the threat - I back stepped all the way down the garden path so fast -  I was out of there and gone before any of the fleas could jump from her to me.

I knew that the rabbit was safe, but I'd still got to go into the property the next day and accept it back from the bailiff! So on the morning of the eviction, I forewarned the bailiff what to expect and I turned up with the locksmith and a very kind gentleman from disinfestation - he was all kitted out with the spray tank on his back. The locksmith got the door open and we then pushed the disinfestation man through the door and told him to just check all the rooms for us as he was spraying.

We then removed ourselves to the end of the garden path and the bailiff said "I think that this ones OK don't you - I think I can hand possession over to you now and be gone" and I said "Yes give me  the papers and I'll sign them and be gone myself"

We left the locksmith to tell the disinfestation man to shut the door behind him and left - it was the only eviction I ever did where I didn't go into the property and take formal possession and it certainly was the quickest one  that I ever did.

Comming up to twent years on - I'll always remember that nice caring little lady standing there, holding the rabbit, saying "Look at my dress"

Speak again soon


Friday, 6 April 2012

Leather Handbags!

Hi there

Hope you are all OK out there and that life is treating you kindly, I've had a lovely week this week just pottering around at my own pace, I've mostly been painting - the Farrow and Ball 'Pointing' eggshell paint has been put to good use on an old kitchen chair and glazed corner unit for the summer house. (Photo's to follow).

I picked up a double bed valence from the charity shop the other day for the princely sum of £2.50 in the old Marks and Spenser Rosebud pattern (from the 1980's) unused  - which is going to make some cushion covers and bunting for the summer house. (Another job to add to the list for rainy days!).

I had one day this week when I thought I'm going to listen to the Archers whilst I'm sitting here painting.  So I put the catch up edition on the computer and  it was like stepping back in time, when the music came on, as my Nan used to whistle along to the theme tune when I was a child and for a second she was there with me again whistling along - I still don't know know who's who in the Archers but I intend to carry on listening to it when I can.

I did a posting recently whereby I said I would happily cast adrift some of our more radical residents of this county and when I wrote it I thought that some people may think me cold hearted and heartless. To a point I am - I don't suffer fools (or these people) lightly and a lot of it is due to the knocks I've had through life and to the jobs I had to do to earning my living and pay my mortgage.

Throughout the 90's I worked for a local authority as a rent officer, at the same time I had been left a single parent with 3 teenagers, still at school, to keep and a mortgage to pay and at that time I did 3 jobs ( one full time and 2 part time on the evenings) to keep a roof above our heads (as the prat I was married to and trying to divorce wouldn't pay out either to help keep the children or towards the roof over their heads).

As a rents officer I heard every excuse going why the tenants couldn't pay their rent that week. I once interviewed one who said that she couldn't pay her rent because the T.V. was a 'pay as you watch' and it was costing her so much money - she was quite promptly told to join the library and start reading books instead of watching the T.V. and I expected her rent to be paid without fail in future or else she would be evicted and where would the pay as you watch T.V. go then! - as I told her this my colleague, sitting beside me was choking with laughter.

Then there was the lady who came in telling me that she couldn't pay the rent as her husband just didn't give her enough money - when I went through what her husband earned against their expenses it was quite apparent that he was holding a lot of money back for himself, when I asked her where this money went she explained that he went fishing a lot and his money was spent on that (better than booze I suppose) I asked her to bring him in and promised her that I wouldn't tell him that I knew where his money was going.

She duly brought him into this office and we went through his income and expenditure and he agreed that there was a considerable sum left over each week - it took some time for him to admit that he was spending it on his fishing and the competitions he entered (it took so long it was like extracting teeth!) I asked what was more important to him the roof over his and his children's  head or his fishing competitions - I held my breath as I asked this question, luckily he realised and said the roof - I breathed a sigh of relief and his rent was always paid after that.

Then there was the single middle aged lady who never and I mean never paid her rent - she didn't work - claimed benefits, but was always dressed up to the nine's, she'd come in the office to tell me she couldn't possible pay her rent that week because of a,b, and c and all the time the make-up and the hair would be perfect along with the attire but what used to rile me was the leather handbags she always had (this was at the time when my handbags came off the local market stall for no more that £5.00 each and only one at a time when the last one had broke and I was working day and night!)........(Thank God those days have gone and I am now on par with her - only took me another 10 years of working to get there!). Every time I went for eviction on her  - she would miraculously find the money to stave it off till the next time.

There were some cases that we didn't win and I remember one day in the mid 90's when the bailiff and myself ran around one area doing 9 evictions - it never bothered me doing an eviction - they had the same chances as me - they were capable of getting up off their backsides and getting a job to keep the roof over their heads - if  they couldn't be bothered then they didn't deserve to have the roof as far as I was concerned.

I've had calendars thrown at me and once a chair - when I told him that the warrant that he'd ignored was going to be executed that morning and that  he was going  be evicted in just over an hours time. When we got there to do the eviction he was still throwing items in his car which he promptly mounted the kerb to drive at us as he left.

So if I am cynical and a little cold hearted it's because I've heard a lot of excuses and seen a lot of crocodile tears  in my time - I also heard the genuine reasons why someone couldn't pay and those people were the ones that I always had time for and the ones that I did anything I could to get them the help that they deserved. like the OAP's who saw that claiming benefits was charity and then lived on next to nothing so that they'd be first in the queue on a Monday morning to pay their rent.

They were good days (if only for me and not the ones I evicted!)

I have lots of stories and tales of those days - I'll tell you more another time.