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Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Website madness

As background to this post, part of the 'deal' that Nel and I have, now she has a permanent post,is that I have the liberty to pursue a new career direction, if I should choose. Her achievement in gaining liberation from post-doctoral purgatory (AKA 'getting a job') has given us a degree of financial security that we've never had before, which in turn gives me more freedom to work in a job that I do'nt hate. This is incredibly liberating, yet, at times overwhelming, because I've sometimes wished over the last few weeks that I HAD to go out to the building site, just to avoid making any decisions. Despite this, with Nel's patience quietly ticking in the background, I have continued my quest. Wordsmith, career consultant , cat psychologist, dramaturge and minor celebrity as possible careers have all been examined and rejected on the grounds that describing the above 'professions' as my occupation would still leave people at dinner parties, or on the bus for that matter, wondering what I actually did for a living.

Finally, after much research(and research is the point of this post which I will get to eventually), I have narrowed future options down to 2 choices, part time Lecturer in Woodwork and Stagecraft, and qualifying as a Home Inspector. Both prospective careers build on my experience, and are socially useful. Additionally, the role of Home Inspector will mostly involve critisizing other people's work. I suppose it was'nt until I socialized with academics that I realised how much fun this can be. Unlike academia, however, Home Inspectors do not themselves get critisized. Sued occasionally maybe, but there's always bankrupcy as an escape route.

To research these new career routes thoroughly (where do I get trained?, how much does it cost?, potential earnings, validity of qualifications etc), I turned, as I suppose we all do these days to the web. After about two days research, I wanted to go back to the building site. I was having nightmares of being trapped in a never ending loop of weblinks, chased by acronyms for demons, and every escape door out was a freephone number with an infinite number of selections on the touch tone menu. One particular loop I actually did get trapped in started at

led me to

via about ten other sites to

then back to the original site.

Finally, in desperation (fuelled by prior knowledge or English government departments), I telephoned the JobCentre.My question was quite simple:

"How do I teach people to bang nails into wood? And get paid for it. "

NOTE: For those of you who do'nt know, the JobCentre is a UK government high street centre where jobs are posted, careers advice is given, training is arranged and social security benefits are administered. It's name is supposed to tell you what it does. To belabour the point, it is a CENTRE for JOBS (and re-training)

I eventually get through to the Official Government Careers Advisor at the JobCentre. I informed her of my situation, my aspirations and my keening desire to impart my wisdom to the growing clamour of youth, who are apparently desperate to acquire a trade. So to the question "What qualification do I need to become a trade school teacher?", her considered answer was "Do'nt know". And to the now redundant second question "What funding might be available", her answer was defined by her first answer. Going for broke, I asked where I may be able to seek additional advice. The careers advisor scored a full house of negatives with her answer to this question, and to the follow-up of "Do you know who I might be able to speak to in order to ask where I might be able to enquire where I might get additional advice", and its scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel sister "Is there any help you can give me at all?".

Next day, despondently walking through the Hull drizzle(yes, the climate is a bit Halifax), en route home after an emergency cat-food run , I popped into the local community centre to see if there was a crochet or needlework class I could join for something to do. A badly photocopied, faded yellow poster caught my eye "Do you have Skills you want to pass on? Have you considered teaching Adult Education?" Barely breathing I approached the empty looking tattered cardboard box labelled "Aplications" (spelling reproduced accurately from source). One solitary faded application, titled "Application for City and Guilds Certificate in Delivering Learning", lifted slightly by the passing breeze, sat in the bottom of the box. I picked the form up, helped it home, and quickly filled it in, leaving only the cat food in the community centre, forgotten by me, but unlike all the websites, probably useful to someone.


Grasshopper said...

Well, you might not have had much luck getting your cat food home but at least you have your yellowed 'aplication' to pave your way to a bright future. Thanks for the laugh!!

Joanie said...

What a great story Martin. You sure writer shouldn't still be on that list somewhere? Seriously, I hope you do get to teach. I think you’d be really, really good at it.

Quick aside: Chris is off in NWT working as the onsite paramedic at a gold mine. He left Wed. am and won’t be back for a couple more weeks. Cruel irony is that he’s likely only going to hand out band-aids there, but left behind a rather sick crew here. Iain and Lena (and me but I don’t think I count anymore) have both had flu. Lena’s got strep throat and a tummy bug too (that little virus erupted while we were at the pharmacy getting the prescription for strep). Not pretty. So wished I had magical powers to whisk us away at that moment...


Nell said...

By NWT - I'm guessing you mean North West Territories. That is a long way away and cold too. It sounds like he couldn't have left at a worse time. Murphy's Law. I hope you are all feeling a little better this weekend. Lena must have been so upset getting sick at the pharmacy - but I'm guessing you had the joy of cleaning up. I've been reading some science fiction recently - I really think the world's inventors should hurry and catch up with ideas presented in these books. For instance a nice little servitor robot would have been really handy for the pharmacy incident. Also matter transporters would be fabulous. Chris could jump in, pop off to work and be back in time for tea. And we could visit each other anytime we liked. I can dream ...