This is a dangerous topic for me to write about. There are a lot of things that irritate me. I mean A LOT. I’m not prone to outbursts of pure anger but tend to simmer with rage and fury inside. (Sam accuses me of road rage but I don’t think making abusive remarks about other drivers in a normal tone whilst in the privacy of our car counts as road rage!). I’ve invested a lot of effort over the years in trying to get over things that irritate me and move on. But it doesn’t stop me getting annoyed!
These questions are getting tougher by the ‘day’. I’m not even a quarter of the way through and I’ve hit a tough one:
6. Something you’re proud of in the past few days
I’ve been considering lots of different things in my head and I keep coming back to feeling proud because “H did x” or “H said y”. But they aren’t things I’ve done that I’m proud of, which is what I think the question really means. But sitting down now to write this post, I’ve realised what I’m really proud of sitting here on the sofa, right here, right now. I’m proud of getting through this week!
My work day morning routine is quite time-strict. I am up at 6am and out of the door by 6:45am; In that time I get washed, dressed and word-ready as well as taking my valuable 5 – 10 minutes with H when I get her up. So anything I can defer to the train I do; This includes my breakfast. After a year of eating a healthy porridge and banana breakfast during Mat Leave (that dish literally saved me during those early breastfeeding weeks when I also had stomach flu and tonsillitis) I wanted something equally filling and healthy. I eventually came across this great muffin recipe on BBC Good Food which has no butter or sugar in it. Every fortnight I get baking a batch of twelve which covers me for two working weeks. So last night, after H went to sleep, I went to the kitchen to get to work…
As a long time commuter, I know it’s easy to dwell on the negatives of commuting: the cost, the time, the delays, the horror of being rammed next to a stranger closer than you get to most relatives… I will openly admit that the one thing I really wish I could change about my job is my commute. But…it’s not all bad. Since returning from Maternity Leave I’ve reached a new level of commute-appreciation. So next time you feel anger at having to spend in excess of an hour / day on a train for half your salary, bear these things in mind:
When I signed up for my contract in November 2014, 500mb of data seemed fine. Through 2015 I was on Maternity Leave so I had WiFi most of every day. Then I went back to work… In February a phone ‘glitch’ meant I used up all my data because Google Play was downloading all and every app update on 4G. Argh. EE to the rescue though – they gave me an extra 500mb for free. Then last Thursday my phone alerted me to the fact I had only 100mb for 9 days. No big drama, that was enough if I was sensible.
Then on Friday ‘The Haircut’ happened…
It’s official – I am longer the Mum of a baby but of a toddler! Little H has been walking for a good couple of months but always with help, cruising around furniture or, at best, just covering a small number of steps when set off in the right direction. For several weeks it’s been clear she had “the skills” to walk alone but had not developed the confidence. Then, suddenly, after nursery on Thursday she just…went. She let go of the side and walked back-and-forth and round-and-round. Sam and I just sat and watched in amazement. She was so incredibly proud of herself and quite rightly so. It’s only have watched H learn to walk that I really re-appreciated how amazing it is!
…to work, commute and train to be an even half-competitive rower?! (For those from the rowing fraternity, I am targeting WIM1 levels of competition.) I suspect it is the time of year but, 8 weeks in to the new season with a structured training plan, my belief is wavering. My resolve and focus are still there (although often hidden behind a mask of tiredness and confusion) but I do question what is achievable.
Of course, this is by no means me saying I am quitting or cutting back or anything of that nature. In fact, the competitive part of me sees this as the next mental hurdle I need to jump (the first being the first 5k of the season, obviously!). Nothing tests your focus and commitment to the cause than when you get in after over an hour of travelling (and cycling home in the pouring rain) that chucking on your all-in-one and pounding out an erg or lifting 10-tonne kettle bells. Okay, my weights aren’t that heavy, but you get the idea!
On a serious note though, I suspect there will be a limit. With over 2 hours of commuting along with the working day (equating to just short of 12 hours out of the house), there will be a limit to how much training is manageable, especially during the winter. Last week was quite stressful for work and I was feeling physically worn out too. But, so caught-up in my routine was I that I had to be instructed by two people to have a night of rest when I was almost asleep on my feet on Thursday. I did rest and I was better for it – I reminder that sometimes a rest is, er, the best. Again, you get the idea!
But, I shall continue on with the plan – next week moves to HIT so a break from the erg of doom! – and see what difference it has made by the next 5k and Fours Head – the thought of both make me shudder slightly even several weeks away 😉
I have been commuting for many years and there are many stereotypical grumbles which bother me day to day. On the flip side, I also have a very methodical and structure way to life – if I agree with a set of rules or a certain structure, I won’t lie, I tend to conform quite easily. What I do if I don’t agree really varies on a case-by-case basis but that isn’t something I shall delve in to. So, back to the topic in hand, I have, for most of my life, applied Highway Code-type rules to many aspects of my ‘moving’ around, especially commuting and walking around busy tube stations and along busy streets.
Typically, on the underground, the rule is Keep Left. You usually find the slowest people keep to the far left and it cascades out to the centre in speed order, much like a human motorway if you will. This kind of unspoken but natural balance pleases my mathematical brain. So when I have to ‘pull out’ in to the other carriageway to over take a slow person in the middle, I get quite enraged. One could even liken certain types or traveller to different kinds of vehicle, such as someone with those irritating wheels suitcases that they forget is there could be compared with a caravan or a small trailer, namely, they should stay in the slow or middle lanes. This option presents so many options: painted lanes, traffic lights at intersections with other tunnels. The possibilities are endless. But I suppose if we did that, we’d need commuting police because don’t even get me started on the frustrating people who dare to go the wrong way down the slow lane…!
Hmm, this idea might need a bit more work.
Cast your minds back to the time before social networking, back to the days where you only used your mobiles for calls and texts and the internet was somewhere you built basic HTML websites to provide information or amusing animations. Yes, it is hard remembering that time, but it did once exist. It was, in many ways, a glorious time because, unlike today, people did not have a way (or indeed feel the need) to share every detail of their life with the world!
Now, I am a keen blogger, twitter user and I do indeed have a Facebook profile which I often check. So, in no way am I condemning or compaining about the existence or use of these types of sites. Indeed, there is something nice about knowing that when I am bored at home on my own one night, I can share the fact that "Angela Watling wishes she had some chocolate" with the world. But, this sort of freedom comes at a dangerous price. Imagine a different evening: you have had a sh*t day at work (one of those truely awful ones), the trains are screwed, it’s raining, you are tired and have a tonne of stuff to do at home. These sorts of things put you in a bad state of mind. So, what do people now do…? They get out their phones and log-on to a social networking site. In a few seconds, with no real thought, a rather abusive and irrational post insulting your colleagues and / or train company and / or your life is composed and sent off for everyone to see.
Now, not only are you tired and wet, stuck in a train station after a long day, but now everyone who ever knew you (or possibly never did) thinks you are miserable, a tad unprofessional and a bit of a pity-seeker. Okay, so that is a slightly extreme take on it and often you do get and deserve pity. But, my point is that, at times of stress, we don’t really think through what we are saying. Before, you would just have a verbal outburst at 1or 2 people. But now, those few words are imortalised online for everyone to see. Sure, you can usually delete them, but in the few minutes it takes for you to get that feeling of regret, someone will have read them. For a one off, people see it and then forget, but do it often enough and it starts to reflect on you as a person. Do it enough and you risk writing something which could offend a friend or worse cause you problems at work.
So, should we all take a step back from social networking and re-assess what value it brings us? Should we consider whether it is really the best forum for everything we want to say? Obviously it is a personal choice, but I know that after one or two incidents such as the above, on a bad day, my phone stays safely in my bag. Some opinions and comments are best left unsaid.
So the RMT are to hold tube strikes AGAIN. This time they are holding 4 strikes staggered over a one week period to cause maximum disruption: two mornings and two evenings. The reason: two drivers were fired, one of which was for abusive behaviour. This particular driver is going to tribunal, which won’t have taken place at the time of the strike. This latest stunt by Bob Crow and his band of loons has left me stunned. How can the cause justify the action?!
I have always understood unions to be a means for holding those in charge to account. An example of where it was a just use of the power to strike can be seen in movie form in ‘Made In Dagenham’. The outcome of that real-life strike changed the workplace for all and for the better. What they are doing today seems to make a mockery of this. I cannot recall a single strike over recent years that seems to have a just cause. A year or so ago, at the height of the recession, the RMT took strike action because they did not get a pay rise of somewhere near the 6% they demanded, along with more pension and holiday. Over Christmas they again threatened strike because they were being told to work Boxing Day and want THREE times their daily salary AND a day in leiu. Most people are lucky to get time-and-a-half OR a day back. To now strike because of the case of an individual who is going to tribunal accused of a genuinely sackable offence is just abuse of the system in my mind.
It saddens me to see normal people subjected to such inconvenience and cost as a result of this petty behaviour. I would love to know how many RMT members actually voted for the strike since it rarely exceeds a 30% turnout, without even taking in to account the for/against figures within that. Bob Crow may think they suffer but as a result of his behaviour, the reputation of the RMT is so for beneath the mud you would need a JCB to dig it out. They have absolutely no support from me and I hope that LU do not cave to their demands. On those days, I will be walking and whilst my day will be longer, I will get some extra exercise and save myself the extortionate £3.80 a day I pay for the tube to keep the drivers in a job. They should remember it’s the public that ultimately pay their wages and strike too much and people might find alternative transport they are happy to use day-in-day out. Next it will be a strike about redundancies, just you watch….