Saturday, April 25, 2009

What have I done?

It was an odd Friday.
I was summoned to the Midlands by one of the companies I do a bit of work for. I started working for them at the beginning of the year after a sudden downturn in paying gigs being offered. The company had actually been pursuing me during the summer, but I didn't fancy it, despite the immortal line from the desperate middle manager doing the pursuing that it was "money for old rope".
How can you refuse an offer like that? Well, I did for a bit. But a worryingly quiet December had me beating a path to their door with my tail between my legs begging for work, which was still available. Phew!
It hasn't all been plain sailing though. The work isn't that interesting and there have been issues with the project - namely how long-term it was likely to be (my feeling is that it's going to be pulled at some point).
So anyway, I approached the meeting with a certain degree of ambivalence. I knew that there were a few changes in the offing as one of the main people in the team was leaving. So I ended up in a meeting where the manager was effectively saying could I take on more responsibility.
Before I knew what I was saying I'd effectively talked myself out of a job, saying that I wasn't currently able to take on more work from them (true), that I didn't really agree with that they were trying to do and presenting a withering critique of their corporate culture, which I think is too navel gazing.
The lady I was meeting with actually seemed a bit stunned, although she thanked me for my candour. It now seems that they will look for somebody else to take on the work, and I'll be let go.
As I headed home on the train I was reading ever more gloomy economic predictions for the next few years which brought on a sense of panic. Suddenly I was mentally pulling the emergency stop cord and running back up the line to let them know it was all a terrible mistake. This feeling has stayed with me for most of the weekend, despite my wife pointing out that I've got more work than I can handle at the moment, that I didn't want to do it in the first place, and that I'm always moaning about it.
I guess such periods of self doubt are the curse of the freelancer. The old saying is that it is either famine or feast, and there seems to have been more of the former than the latter of late. Will I live to regret this decision? Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Choo choo!

What is it with boys and trains? J has taken a massive liking to toy trains, especially wooden ones like this. His cousin has some and so has a new friend of his, Kai. Unluckily - or maybe luckily - for Kai, he is only 12 months old so is less possessive about his toys than J is with his (and other people's). So when J starts playing with the trains, it's cool with Kai.
Anyway, this Easter, his granny got him his very own train set, which has probably turned out to be the best gift ever! It's the first thing he wants to play with every day. He was overjoyed to receive it and since there is a steam railway line where she lives, we thought we'd take him to see the real thing.
It almost didn't happen as he was asleep by the time we had taken the soggy walk to the local park where the train starts. After a cursory look around, we decided that he needed his nap more than a sight of the locomotives, so started off back home. At this stage he did wake up and with the train about to leave in a couple of minutes I rushed him back on to the platform in time for him to see that Choo choos really exist. It really was quite a wonderful moment and I was very touched by it. It was another of those gushy moments that make you realise how great it is to be a parent, no matter what Rachel Cook says (about mums).

Friday, April 03, 2009

Here comes summer

The past couple of days have been seasonally clement for the time of year. (Excuse the Radio 2-isms but the wife keeps channel switching in the morning, so I'm currently being hit by a double whammy of Sarah Kennedy and Terry frickin' Wogan and they are gradually realigning my thought processes. All those Middle England witticisms and chummy texts and emails from the TOGs are doing my head in. Never mind the aural torture of playing the Birdy Song, or whatever, to terror suspects. Why not just give them a blast of this inane drivel and they'd be begging to tell their interogators anything.)
Anyway, the weather has been very sunny over the past couple of days, which really does lead to a Hackney Holiday feeling in the air. I was in the playground with J the other day and there were a couple of other mums availing themselves of the facilities by quaffing a bottle of cream-based liqueur and having a big spliff while their kids careered around. I have to say that the one in possession of the doobie did have the good grace to try and waft the fumes away from her as J started towards her. We made our excuses and left.
Hackney in summer is great though. We live near London Fields park and people treat it as their garden, so on sunny days, it is a fantastic place to hang out. There are amateur barbecue-ists, football players and frisbee-ers, folk reading the papers, punk picnics, rampaging dogs, the Hoxton trendies, kids dunking each other in the paddling pool, the obligatory men with guitars, impromtu cricket, young guys strutting around with their tops off and young girls looking studiedly unimpressed. It's just a great vibe, and we've got months of it to come, which is especially great for me as I have two days a week of dadding when I have carte blanche to have fun, as long as his nibs is into it as well.