In my mind, today was exactly the sort of August day I’d imagined we’d be experiencing at home while between jobs. Back in March the plan was to go traveling for a few months ending up in Italy for the wedding then back to London in time for some gentle job searching while enjoying the glorious English summer. Ha.

Still, we managed to spend some time tidying up the garden and get out of the house and stop thinking about the insurance and lack of laptop for a few hours. Ival, the company appointed by our insurers have been shit so far. We notified the insurers (M&S) straight away on Tuesday night and then again first thing Wednesday morning – we also told them we wanted to replace the MacBook straight away. Have we heard from the specialist department at Ival yet? Have we f*@k.

Eventually we hassled M&S enough that they signed off on us going out and buying a new one – but they weren’t as helpful as they could have been. I have kept the receipts for the most expensive items but things like spare battery and SD cards for the camera (they were all in the camera bag) soon add up when you need to replace them. Be interesting to see how the insurers deal with it…

Signing On

Yesterday, the wife checked out the sort of places locally where a crackhead might go to unload a stolen laptop. Unsurprisingly, there are a few such establishments on Kilburn High Road, gentrification taking longer on the major artery that is the A5 than the leafier roads to the west and east. Sadly, no sign of my MacBook.

We had to sign on today at the depressing cube farm that is Kilburn job centre. You get a little booklet with a lot of pages in it that you have to read and a bunch of forms to fill in showing how you’ve been looking for work. They also have a computer system which registers what sort of work you’re looking for, except it doesn’t have any jobs in the database that have come into existence in the last 20 years. Technical Project Manager? No. Web Editor? No. Content Director? Product Manager? No and no.

The whole place has that dated, depressing institutional feel that borders on the tragic, you can imagine there’s a room at the back where they enter all the data onto the machine using punch cards, dreaming of the day they can upgrade to 5″ floppy disks.

It was a poor experience compared to how I remember. The first time I signed on I would have been about 16, back then you signed on at the Unemployment Benefit Office rather than the Job Centre, so you never got distracted by the latest vacancies when you went in. Much more civilised…


Having been out at the Royal Oak in Columbia Road to celebrate a friend’s birthday we arrived back at our flat last night just as the police were pulling up outside. Seems that a couple of crack heads had literally kicked two doors in to break into our flat and burgle us. Our neighbours upstairs had come home and disturbed them on their way in, fortunately there was no confrontation between them.

They took the usual sort of stuff – mainly electronic equipment Nikon digital SLR, Bose SoundDock and iPod, some jewellery and a few small items, rather randomly some of the wife’s perfumes – they would have got away with more if they hadn’t been disturbed. The wife doesn’t seem too upset by her stuff going missing – she’s pissed off about a bracelet that was a present from her mum and her new Marc Jacobs sunglasses – but we’re both somewhat annoyed about my missing MacBook. Fortunately, I had a lot of the stuff on it backed up on a hard drive that they left behind, but not my photos. Jane has nearly all of the wedding photos on her laptop and the wedding video is still on the camcorder (which they didn’t take) but I’ve probably lost a lot of our travel pics for good.

The police have caught one of the suspects, but he didn’t have the MacBook or the bracelet on him, just the Sounddock and iPod. We await a locksmith and hopefully news of the other missing items…

Our Endless Numbered Days

We’ve been back in the UK nearly 10 days now. We’d rented out our flat for the last couple of legs of our travels and we’d packed away most of our personal stuff in the shed (see before and after pics, top and bottom respectively). It’s amazing how much you can get by without and how long it takes you to unpack it all when you get back home. It’s also amazing how quickly plans to do away with all the unwanted stuff turns into cluttering up again.

I think between the two of us we managed to get rid of seven bin liners of stuff (Jane managed a bag of shoes on her own, but that’s another story). If we were slightly more ruthless we could have managed the same again but when it comes to hoarding I’m borderline pathological. I tend to have a big cull every few years (when I went to Uni, when I moved onto the boat, when I sold the boat) but I’ve still got a suitcase full of tickets, flyers and photos and random memorabilia that I haven’t been through in years.

Anyway, given our situation you’d think that we’d have time to sort all this out, right? Wrong.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have been made redundant without too much pressure to find a job immediately you’ll know how easy it is to fill your days with distraction tasks. Doubly so when the Olympics are on. Today for instance we have

  • read Saturday’s paper (in bed)
  • ate breakfast (in bed)
  • watched re-runs of Friends (in bed)
  • caught up on the Olympics (5 medals for team GB so far)
  • checked the Guardian and Total Jobs for new adds
  • gone to TK Maxx to buy a present for a friend
  • updated Twitter
  • tried to get Vodafone Sat Nav to work on my Blackberry (no luck)
  • checked a bunch of news and music sites.
  • bought and flicked through a copy of Total Film (research for a job).
  • bought the latest driving theory test book from Borders.
  • reviewed some of my trip photos.
  • commented on someone elses Flickr photos
  • caught up on two months of American Voices on The Onion.
  • made a cup of tea.

and written this blog entry…

A Punch Up At A Wedding

We got married on July 30th. We got made redundant on March 11th. The two events aren’t directly related but the latter did allow us to give more thought to the former.

We didn’t use the time to over engineer the organization. If anything it just confirmed our belief that important things don’t need to be difficult (apart from the rings, but that’s another story).

We’d been out of the UK for most of the time since March so it was great that so many of our friends could join us in Italy for a few days either side of the wedding.

Now we’re back in the UK looking for work but secretly still pretending we’re retired. Oh, and there wasn’t a punch up at the wedding, though there was this.