Tuesday, 24 January 2012

In search of an Aurora...

Hello all.

So as to not set myself up for failure, I have decided to post these only when I feel I have something to say. This will hopefully be multiple times a week, but not always, as I don't want it to become even more boring than it already is.

Not much has happened so far this week; we had my Stepsisters down this weekend (they come on alternate weekends) which is always fun. We played Monopoly, which is an annual event, if that, because it's only me and Bryony who like to play board games, and it was only after much nagging on Bryony's part that anyone else agreed to play. We have the weird 'World Edition' now, where it's not just London and you play with credit cards. I prefer it, but my parents the purists think it's just odd. It's not very often that I win at games, especially ones that require a certain amount of skill (I'm not the most logical person), but due to a lot of luck, and a tiny bit of planning, I trounced everyone! My one triumph thus far this week.

On the job front, many more rejections, and a slightly odd 'phone interview' from somebody who claimed to be a graduate recruitment agency, who want me to go to an assessment day on Thursday, in Sale (Manchester-ish). I'm reluctant to go, because I don't want to work in IT, and all the jobs are in Cheshire or down South, which I obviously don't want to relocate to, but there's something inside me saying that beggars can't be choosers, so I'll probably go. Maybe. I just don't see the point in spending over a tenner in travel when I'm probably going to get very little out of it; they probably won't employ me anyway because, although I know my way around a computer, I don't have any qualifications which prove it. Grrr. Stupid, pointless history degree.

I also got rejected from a job that I kind of wanted, but knew I'd get rejected from. The Cancer Research graduate scheme. I have no chance with most graduate schemes, because I don't have a 2:1 (got a 2:2 by a couple of marks, very annoying, especially because I messed up because I was working full time as well as trying to study. The perils of being a low-income student). The only graduate scheme I've found which accepts 2:2s is the one for National Rail, which I'm also in the middle of applying for. Because my God if I can help to improve the rail system in this country, I'll at least have done a tiny bit of good in a corporate environment (but more on that later). I applied anyway to the Cancer Research grad. scheme, because it's one of the few charity jobs that are aimed specifically at graduates. I got rejected last year, even before I'd got the results of my degree, but I have quite a bit more experience this time around, and thought I'd try again. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful, and the Cancer Research team delighted in sending me three emails at hourly intervals to inform me of the fact, lest I forget. Thanks.

Today, the situation has become so dire, that when I went into Halifax to post some stuff I'd sold on eBay for my Mum, I noticed that Subway was hiring. In a stroke of good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) luck, the store here is owned by the same franchisee as the one I worked at in York, and the manager ran the York store for a while. Therefore, I stand a pretty good chance of getting a job there. I was however, undecided as to whether to apply. I liked my job in York, but that was because of the people, not because of the work. It's crap money and I have no idea what the people are like there, or even if there'll be enough hours available to make it work it. I also don't want to get stuck in a rut. I escaped Subway, and I don't especially want to go back. I have a friend who works at the store in York, who's a brilliant guy, really nice, bright and talented. He has a degree, and worked in Subway after he qualified just as an end to a means for a while. This was about 8 years ago now. He's still there, stuck. Unable to afford to quit and look for other jobs, or move away for the time being. Alright he's the manager now, but he still earns less money per hour than my 19 year old brother who works in Aldi, and it was a long, hard struggle to get there (he was working on the same money as me for a while, yet doing at least three times the work and getting no recognition at all, in fact quite the opposite). So is that something I really want to get stuck with? But then if I don't, what's the alternative? Live on Jobseekers for months on end, hoping something I actually want to do will come along? If I get the job at Subway, and work there for a bit, I might be able to do the internship at the NSPCC as well, if the hours are right. I'll be working 60 hours weeks for 6 months, but it will hopefully get me a career at the end of it.

To be honest, this isn't how I pictured life at the end of University. I knew it would be tough, as it's a crap economy out there, but I didn't think I'd be struggling to get even a minimum-wage admin job. I'm bored of working in retail, and I want to challenge myself and do something new, but I can't afford to.

I'm literally so bored at the moment it's untrue. I'm constantly watching documentaries such as Stephen Fry's Planet Word, or anything by Professor Brian Cox, and then doing my own research, and taking notes, just to give me something to do; a purpose in life. I don't understand how people cannot work for a living - I'd go insane! I keep torturing myself with books/films/tv/magazines about travel, planning my next adventure, when really I can't afford to go to the next city at the moment, let alone another country. My Everest Base Camp trek will have to stay in my head for the moment.

One day, I'll travel to these places and get paid for writing about them. That's what I love to do. I'm so annoyed with myself because I bought the National Geographic Traveller magazine today as a treat to myself, to try and cheer myself up, and found a competition to send an travel article to the magazine as part of a competition. Turns out the deadline was yesterday. I'm failing at everything at the moment, but things can only get better, hey? I'm going to keep on writing, trying to improve all the time, and start sending pieces into smaller magazine, see where I get with that. Even being published somewhere would be a huge achievement for me. Being concise isn't my strongest point as you'll have noticed!

One of the first things I'm going to buy when I can afford to is a new camera. Mine broke when I threw it on the floor (dropped it) on a night out back at Uni, and I miss it. I love photos - I love the memories they bring, and the imagination they can provoke. I got a few pictures through the post today (taking advantage of the 50 free prints offer on the major photo websites) and spent an hour just looking at them. My walls in my room are covered with photos so that I smile every time I walk in there. I was out walking the dog today, and, as I live in the middle of the Pennines, I see some stunning views everyday. Today's was extra-special though. It was from the top of one of the hills, looking out over the valley. There were a roost of birds huddled together on a telegraph pole, with clouds of fog rolling through the valley and it was amazing. My old camera would have captured the essence of the whole thing, but it was a bit fuzzy on my phone unfortunately.

As you can see, you can't really see very much on there!

Whilst we're on the topic of clouds and fog, I've never been so unhappy to see them as I was tonight. Last night was freezing cold and crystal clear, and from my living room I could spot Orion's belt, and Beetlejuice (there's a more sophisticated way of spelling it but I can't be bothered to Google I'm afraid), the Red Dwarf star that's really close to us, and our best chance of a Supernova within our life time. (I hated physics at school, but I can't not pay attention to Brian Cox, he's too attractive. I hope he's proud of the knowledge he's imparted ha).
Tonight however, is the biggest electro-magnetic storm since 2003, and thus a magnificent chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis - or Northern Lights - throughout the UK. As I live in a quite little village with little light pollution and lots of hills to climb with good vantage points, and I'm in the north of the UK, I stood a bloody good chance of seeing it. It's been my dream for a while now to see this phenomenon, and thought I was going to have to save up and go to Norway or Iceland or somewhere, so was VERY excited when I heard that I'd be able to see it from my own house! Unfortunately, we live in the UK, and more specifically in the North of the UK. So despite staying up very late last night, and constantly being on Twitter and nipping outside tonight, it is foggy. And raining. And so I won't be able to see it, unless we get a miraculous break in the clouds in an hour or so. If this is the case, I'm going for a walk, and if you never hear from me again, I'll have been murdered or something whilst in the depths of the countryside. But I don't care, because this is something that I have to see. Stupid clouds.

(Just checked again on Twitter. Beautiful images in Scandinavia. Some viewings in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Nothing here. Gutted. It was seen in North Yorkshire a couple of nights ago so had high hopes).

Picture from the live webcam somewhere in Scandinavia (at this link: http://www.auroraskystation.com/live-camera/9) *Jealous*

So if this has been a week of failures, then the only way is up. My friend Mel is coming to see me all the way from Birmingham at the weekend, and although I'm too skint to do too much, I'm sure we'll have fun anyway, and I'm looking forward to seeing her, it's been far too long! That brings me briefly to my earlier point about the train systems by the way. I live in Ripponden, West Yorkshire, which is on the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire. I live equidistant (give or take a bit) between two train stations - Littleborough and Sowerby Bridge, both about 3 miles away from me, but I normally use Sowerby Bridge, just because it's a tiny bit closer. I was checking train tickets for her however, and it would have cost her an extra TWENTY POUNDS to go to that train station, because she would have had to come through Leeds rather than Manchester. TWENT POUNDS. It costs me £3 on a bus in between the two, so of course she's coming there instead, but how ridiculous is that??

On a similar note, my Stepdad commutes to Reading from Manchester every Monday, and returns every Friday. He normally drives, but we're selling the van so now he's going to get the train. Which, no matter how far in advance he books, is £140!! Now, because I'm a jobless bum with a lot of time on my hands, we adhered by Martin Lewis' advice, and worked out separate train ticket prices, as they can work out a bit cheaper. The cheapest I can get it, is £99 return (which is a fairly good saving of £40/week, just about cheaper than driving), but to do this, he has to buy 7 separate tickets. For one journey. The system is just messed up! Instead of spending billions of pounds on the new HS2 railway, which will mess up the countryside, for the sake of cutting the journey to London by about 20 minutes for the very rich people that will be able to afford to use said train, why not put those billions of pounds into improving said train system Mr. Cameron? My Stepdad is right when he says that the Tories want to leave a legacy, but surely it would be a better legacy to leave a much, much improved, quicker, more reliable and more affordable railway system? But of course, with that they can't have flashy banners and photos and press. So what's the point?  My Stepdad used to work in Germany during the week and they (apart from maybe the Japanese) are the King's of public transport. It's quick, clean, easy, reliable and affordable. Why can't we do the same??

Think that's my rants over for now; time to have another quick check of Twitter and the weather, although I doubt much will have changed. I don't know who's reading this, and if they'll be back, but if you are, feel free to share the blog or comment, even anonymously with a load of criticism, telling me to grow a pair. It's nice to hear something from someone and not feel like you're talking to myself, which I do most of the time anyway (I don't think it really counts if it's to my dog). Maybe I'll just stick some Take That on, that normally works :)

Bye! xx

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