Monday, 5 May 2014

Chapter Ninety

The 14th of April saw my last full week working for Royal Mail as a fulltime postman. As of the 21st I go on my new hours of 27 hours and 30 minutes, per week. I can't complain as I never expected to be on full hours at all. The ethos in all businesses today seems to be part time work. Our company works a strict policy of 'costing and savings before everything else'. Again...this is like other businesses.
I don't have to like it though...AND I DON'T...but I do have to live in the real world.
Anyway; I got a whole eighteen months out of Royal Mail as a full time duty at St Mawes so I did do alright. The change on my duty is that I no longer have to go into Truro and pick the mail up in the morning. This is a saving of two hours for the company a day. I assume the other saving of half an hour a day is because I don't deliver the 'heavy and large' for the other two duties. They have a shared van for all that now.
You all know my views though. In 1972 I joined a service industry. It was called that because you were a service and that ethic came first. Now we are no longer a service, we are a business. I don't practice that ethic at all and service still comes first for me. The only difference now is that, I absorb the cost to do it and not Royal Mail.
The first week of the new duties was something of a disaster however and it did not go well. For a week we did not get our last lot of mail until between 10-00 and 10-30. You can imagine how late this meant five deliveries were; our three and the two posties at Portscatho; especially as this mail shoul;d have been with us at 09-00. Late finishing and upset all around. The only cheery bunny was me because I got in a good hour or more reading a book outside on the harbour wall.
Thankfully, last week went much better and the mail arrived as it should do. Surprisingly; the whole thing is now almost working. We get our mail in good time. I am out on delivery within minutes of 10-00...and I am finishing within minutes either side of my correct finish time.
When you think I have spent the last year finishing up to an hour later most days; and was too scared to claim overtime in case I got taken off the duty and returned to half pay; this has been a welcome bonus.
The only problem with not claiming and not being seen to be that nobody has accounted for all the jobs I did that they were not aware of in Truro.
Their impression was...He drives in to Truro, he picks up the mail, he leaves, and he drops off the mail on his way back. No accounting has been done for; returning the empty trays, returning the unused D2D's, checking for missorts, doing walksorting, taking out stores as required,etc.
Still; all credit to them; they are slowly addressing these things. I'm just niggled that someone must have really thought I was doing very little while in the office.
The good news is that my customers are getting their mail earlier than they thought...and that is really all that they seem to want.
Linda is working all sorts of strange hours but is really enjoying her work. She comes and goes at all hours and is always busy. If she has a gripe at all, it is that we don't get a lot of time together. She was dashing around the other day and left her calling card in the front of her car.
In itself this is not a problem at all. The only problem I found was that she left it in the car while it was parked in our drive. It needs no telling as to who people would think the elderly/disabled client should have been.
Funnily enough though, we do see a lot of each other when we are both at work. Linda has been given a patch to work on that takes in Portscatho and also St Mawes. There is nothing nicer than being on delivery and having a car pull up nearby; especially when the driver is your wife. It does give us time for a quick chat before we head off again. It is good though.
We met on the quayside the other day. The sun was cracking the paving slabs; there was a cooling breeze; seagulls called from the rooftops; and the siren on the ferry was calling out as it left to go to Falmouth. We both stood there looking at the sea and the sand. There are no prizes for guessing that 'YES, we do know how very lucky we are'.
We had a busy weekend over the Easter bank Holiday. Needless to say, we both had to work chunks of it. I used Good Friday as a clean-up day at the garage at St Mawes. A rat ran out from under my van last week. So that was it. Several hours later, the accumalation of several years rubbish was bagged and taken home. There was lots of it I must say. The garage is now empty, clean and tidy, and safe to enter.
Saturday was spent with me on delivery and Linda doing loads in the garden and the allotment. I was late home as I wanted to get the office ready for the new working arrangements. All now done and two weeks on, the office at St Mawes is an easier place to work in.
In the evening we drove over to Gerrans for the pub quiz for our own local NCI at Portscatho. We raised a good sum which will go on the new gazebo we ordered. We shall look very smart at our next 'meet and greet' for the public.
Easter Sunday dawned nice and clear, but not an egg in sight. I'll buy my own next year. An hour later it began to rain steadily, and this continued all day. We made two trips to the dump at St Austell and got rid of all the rubbish from the garage and from the house and garden. We did a couple of quick jobs up the allotment and then headed home. Minutes later, Linda got a call from work and ended up doing a four hour shift for the afternoon. When she got home she then put in a few hours doing paperwork and the like for the Samba Band...she is secretary for that.
The thing was, not only had we been together for about nine years was also Linda's 49th birthday. She certainly spent it in an unusual fashion.
Easter Monday was also a working day for Linda and she spent most of it out and about.
It was also the day that Jason and Tracy came down to stay with us for a few days. It was good to see them and we had fun.
No sooner had they gone home than disaster struck the family finances. Nothing to do with them I hasten to add. Linda needed two new tyres on the front of her car...and the washing machine gave up the ghost resulting in a new one being bought.
Incredibly...I managed to plumb it in on my own and the new one is working perfectly.
The guinea pigs have settled down well with each other and seem very happy and contented out there. Linda did change the name of our new one. We couldn't keep calling her 'Penny', as we know to many people of that name. Linda has changed her name to 'Pebbles'.
 Whiskey is on the left of this picture and is the male. Pebbles is on the right and is a much younger female. The main visual difference between them both is that little smudge of white, just above Pebbles' nose. It is easy to see how Widget ate herself to death, when you consider that the two of them now eat that food slowly through the day. Widget used to bolt it all in the first five minutes...and attack Whiskey if he tried for some.
I also brought out three old friends of mine and placed them back under the pear tree in the garden. Bayleaf is the one on the left. He is the gardener and is sweeping up the leaves and tidying the lawn. Next to him is Digweed. He also is a gardener and uses his spade to dig weeds up wherever he finds them. The other one is Jasper. He too is a gardener and grows stuff. Like Linda, he is proud of his produce which is why he has a Carrot in his arms.
 Just go with my imagination. Linda has too.
This last week has run a lot smoother for me. I got overtime which has helped a bit. Linda also went to work on Sunday afternoon...and didn't get home until Monday afternoon. That was a busy weekend for her. She had to stay on a sleepover with a client.
I have contacted my pension people and am hopeful all will be in place on my birthday in July. That will be a boost to the old finances and will supplement my pay at St Mawes.
I had a little shock as well about becoming sixty in July. I received a letter from the NHS as normal telling me my 'assisted prescription' card will need renewing. So far, so good. They then went on to say that I only had to renew it for three months because when I get to sixty I get FREE prescriptions.
                                                "I'm too young to be that old." 
A pleasant shock...but still a shock. Am I becoming a 'coffin-dodger'. I'm only a boy.
I have been up to the allotment twice now this year with Linda to work there. I don't do a great deal because it damages my back and my neck. I can manage the mowing though. Linda has done a smashing job of digging the whole thing over and planting out. It looks fantastic and I know she is pleased with the way things are going.
My job is to cut all the grass around the plots and trim all the paths. It may not seem much but Linda is pleased with my efforts. It keeps the weeds down and stops the plants on the edge from being choked. It certainly looks very tidy I must say.
The rest of my duties mean I am on call when needed and close by for company. To keep me quiet, Linda is always delighted to allow me the peace to read a book...its a 'win-win' for us both.
We have a visitor on the Fal river just above the King Harry Ferry. Back in the bad weather a ship got into difficulties just off the Lizard. The crew were all rescued and the ship saved. Unfortunately, the crew are now back home and our authorities are having problems with the owners over some bill paying. At the moment the poor ship is moored up-river while the arguments continue.
She is called the 'SEABREEZE'. Poor old girl. She's been in all the papers and on television. She deserves better than this. I got this picture of her when I crossed over the other day from my writing group session.
Starting tomorrow now, I am beginning a new part-time job to try and supplement my income. I will be getting up early in the morning and getting some stories and writing done on a more commercial level. I shall try and put in at least three hours each day and hopefully achieve something.

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