Saturday, March 18, 2017

No News Is Bad News in the Job Process

As a follow uyp to my last bklogg, I would say go with your gut  instinct and parrt of manaing that emotional response is being able to move on quickly from rejection

Rejection is easy to gauge in the interview and job offer process. No news i invariably bad news. It means that other people are being ivitied to interview or offered the job, and you are on hold. These days very few people will turn down a job, or even an interiew but it does happen. So if they say they will tell you by the end of the week, phone on Friday morning and phone back if they put you on answer phone.

The onlyt thing I can suggest earlier in the internview rounds is that you phone up if you get rejection and tell them you were very interested if they had a cancellation for interbview. I havent in truth done this very often because I hate rejection and get nercvous in that type of situation, but I have been mysterioulsy called into intervbiew at short notice on occoasion.

Trust Your Instinct! Gut feeling and the Job Interview/ Offer Process

I am currently looking for a job as the climate for consulting is pretty poor for one man bands, and McKinsey, PWC, multiconsult seem to want a double doctorate with ten As at A level.

So a near miss with the public sector this week, often locked by experience in the law-work , a typical chicken and egg thing. However I made a second interview only to be beaten by someone a little better and with no doubt lingo as a native.

However what have I learned from the last three decades of job seeking and indeed, people in general?

Well most of all it is to trust your gut feeling I would say every single time. Nothing has ever, ever gone against my gut feeling , but occiasonally it has been derailled by other people in the interview or being a bit rose tinted spectacles on what was a 'gut neutral' recruiting process.

Gut feeling is an odd thing, because it reflects not only your emnotional response to the external sti,mul;us but also a subtle two way street on that issue. People have a terrible inbuilt instinct to make very rapid decsions based on superficial and immediate impressions. This is based not just on their prejudices but on YOURS, you will give immediate signals which they will immediatlely react to. It is the first thirty seconds of the encoutner which colours what happens next. It is a bit like love or hate at first sight with the opposite sex though, because in the cold lightr of day either or both parties may find they have made a bad initial judgment and reverse that by the new learning,

No such luxury for that girl who couldnt stand the sight of you but then you fall madly in love a month later once the ice is broken with a crash of defences falling, In the typical interview you have only 15 minutes of the hour to actually present yourself and often you are very lucky to establish a dialogue on the actual position, what the focus and demands are, and what your strengths and short comings may be. That is the ideal situation, as in a first date, there  is dialogue and not a polite process which has to be gone through. I have never had a job offer when the interview has felt like a cut and paste presentation and standard one way questions, when often they start late, rattle on about the company for too long, and then start watch checking about 15 minutes before the end. Most often this has been associated with a very neutral invitation to interview, more on that below.

Very often the employer will have shaped either a very positive view of you from your CV with preconceptions in a positive light, or they are a little dubious but you seem a good fit on many counts, or they have just had a handful of applications. In my last actual job, they had only 8 qualified candidates apply even though the big down turn in the oil industry had put many like me in SCM on the dole!

The job ad' should though not give you a gut feeling. I find that a standard, good application with some explanation of why the company and or job is appropriate for you and vice versa helps. But setting your hopes on one job in this market is the absolutely wrong thing to do. You are competing with very key competance people who are either unemployed or feel their company or department may go under the chop. So you just have to gett the numbers up and hold a good quality letter with your CV. Open applications are both less effective in terms of interviews per hundred, and you need to do hundreds, but on the other side they are more effective in terms of getting a job which may suit you geographically, This is because employers are loathe to advertise sometimes, they get hundreds of applications and then a lot of social pressure from their freinds and family to employ. They would rather do it a little under the radar, although very often this type of approach leads to a stop-gap temporary position.

So I did the wrong thing this time and stopped up with my other applications and dropped open applications altogether in the push to study for the job and be there for the reply after second interview. I was a bit 'rejection fatigued' anyway, but it made this one a bit harder becauuse my head was down and not up looking at the market.

Now we come to the invitation, it should give you a gut feeling. I guess some professions are a little more neutral and square in their invitation to interview, but you can get a good gut feeling if they bother to phone you up. If they send an e-mail invitation and don't call within a working day of it arriving, then you have to ask yourself how much they care and just how many they are interviewing? A personal invitation in the phone followed by an e/mail confirmation is important. If any significant travel is involved, then you should ask if they cover travel expenses / this gives you a bit of a feel for them as an employer.

A stratight No on travel expenses can mean they have tight budgets, it can mean they dont care much for candidates or it can mean that they have more than 10 to first interview, or indeed it can mean that they have a high staff churn rate and cant afford to be nice to people because they arent nice to employees once theyre in!!  A positive tone in the conversation should be expected if it is the manager who you will be working with, while personnel are more netural or matter of the fact, often verging on the rude because very often they are busy and very often you were not their prime candidate ie the manager did not like their choice.

You should pose at least one question at this point, whcih can be as cheeky as how many are you interviewing? / a  very off hand or slightly negative answer to this can be intepreted with your gut feeling. With jobs which are in areas expensive to live in or commute to, I often ask what the wage is, and rarely get an indication to be honest. That is the culture here, but in other areas like the USA perhaps and the UK you should know the wages and some of the conditions from the ad or ask. Where there is a culture for wages in adverts or openess on them, hiding wages is usually a sign to something a little wrong IMHO. All part of the gut feeling.

For a job which you think will be marginally economic for you ie you have to weekly commute or it is part time, then I wouuld recommend trying to change the time point of the interview just to see how they react. , as well as asking them to cover travel expenses. Some firms say they have a policy of not paying candidates for first interview, so why not have a policy of not accepting such interviews? Think of it this way, if it is a very specific skill set they are looking for, then you are quite likely making way for one of your competing candidates to get that job in that area. You would be better served spending say a 200 euro travel expense on doing something positive in  your life or paying debt to be honest. An alternative little wheeze is to say your car is in the garage and can you take it as a phone interview or via SKype since you cannot make it. This all sounds a bit risky, and to an employer reading this, bloody minded, but youu face two big financial risks when you mixs in with a job ouuytside comfortable daily commuting distance. Firstly if you got five interviews 200 miles away, then you would use up all you monthly income in your dole or local waiting job. Secondly the cost of establishing yourself there means you are in negative cash flow for up to two years, which I know to my cost. You are always a monthy behind and needing to use your credit card if you had littlle or no savings to establishy yourself with an appartment or pay for a long daily commute.

Due to the fact that so many quality jobs these days can demand very key competances, youu can often get a good feel that you are a good match for that set, and that there will be less than 10  to first interview. This is often in a set whcih includes not only the core skills, but also specific computer systems (SAP being my bug bear lack on the CV) , supply chain and industry, even down to specific customers such as the public sector, or suppliers such as Bayer or GE., or markets say China or Germany. So when you do get a call with a positive tone from the boss who will be employing you, then you it should feel right. Go though back to the job advertisement and get your feet back on the ground every time at this point, and see through which applications you have out, and which you have to do. It can be worth now putting pressure on all the prime jobs you have not heard from by ringing and saying you are in an interview process with another company and would like to hear yes or no sooner, which will indeed get you picked out or dropped sooner. Also get ringing those other jobs which are out there before your apply, because now you are hot property , off the back foot and on the offensive. In this market in most western countries, employers will be sitting with hundreds of applications with a good few dozen or even fifty good qualified candidates, from whcih they may use some arbitary secret filter, including age-ism, sexism, college snob value, and most of all geography and previous employer brand name. So gettign picked out because you are hot, and would rather have that job than the one you are up for is worth a go. With a smaller job application number it can sound a bit pushy, but it means that you are most likely yet another wrung uip the ladder towarrds securing interview.

At interview employers and especially recruitment constulants, will nearly always ask if you are in another interview round, or give you the spanish inquisition on why you are leaving. A major hidden agenda which recruitment consultants have as a key offer to clients, is wages control and expectations management via the vaneer of a wide net of screened candidates. Very often they send half the candidates as window dressing for the main product so to speak. i hate recruitement constultants a lot because of these two factors. You often end up being an also ran, having had your hopes up, or being presented with a suprisingly low salary offer or discussion nearer the end of the process. They basically wanted to establish the highest motivbateion, most qualkified candidate for the lowest wage, and today they can often get that even if those candidates quite often are the very ones who will job hop out of those mediocre wages asap.

I have had a couple of major mess ups in my career and both times I had my gut instinct a little out of tune. In one I felt the bosses were so odd that this was a bit of a strange department, but I had been out of work over a year. They were odd, I had a dumped marketing assistant called Marianne who no one else wanted to work with because she was a hopeless egotistical spastic who wrote marketing material like a 14 yearr old. It went pear shaped through no real fauklt of my own, and the two bosses even had left within a year if sacking me. Also in another interview some 8 years later, one boss was very bitchy and passive aggressive, while the director was very positive. I went on his side with my gut instinct, but it turned out that she was my boss and she was the fucked up machievellan boss from hell, with no idea how to structiure workflows in an SCM department or how to manage people. She was a bitch delux.

Interviews are always seen as putting all the pressure and focus on the candidate, but in fact the way the employer behaves in an interview and as mentioned, before and after in their approach to you, is very, very telling,. Now to the three Cs=  The Cars, the Carpet and the Coffee. A rule of thumb is how are the offices, the parking lots? Are the cars there scrappy or a lot of new cars? Is there a rich-poor car lot? Then you get to reception, for a company with more than 20 employees at a main reception they should have full time work hours reception and/or security gaurd. Then there are the carpets and the decor. Investing in working environment means investing in people, but also investing in image. Crappy carpets and crappy coffee mean in my costly experience, a crappy employer. The opposite is also true, very fine entrances and artwork can be all show, ask to see the 'cube farm' you will be actually working in? I worked for one ad ' agency whose bosses all had flash fully expensed cars, while account managers got nothing but the going rate for the job. They tried hard to make a good environment in an old church, but they had a them-and- us attitude which sucked big time.

Coffee is a bad thing for gut instincts and first impressions. I would always avoid it in interviews, but be polite to say don't let me hinder you if you need one. If the interview start runs late, as they often do when they have 10 or more candidates to get through in a week, then give quite a blunt no thank you and even say,  we can start as soon as ytou like. Coffee means a lot of time following someone to a machine or canteen, and they will have their back to you and it is awkward with hot, plastic ups or cups and saucers through doors and so on. So judging the firm by the coffee is worth avoiding in terms of getting up to an extra five minutes face to face time with the interviewers. A polite, no thanks I had a bit of time on my journey to have a coffee break, but dont let me hinder you is a good way of getting on with it. It may be that they are dieign for a coffee after back to back interviews in the stuffiest conference room  they got landed with.

Post interview you have to both trust your gut instiution and abate it. Do you have evidence to support it? Did you really answer to their satisfaction? Were the slight negatives which gave you a negative taste in the mouth so to speak, actually real or just hiccups or nervousness on both sides? Did they answer YOUR questions to YOUR satisfaction, or even give you time to ask them? A positive gut feeling often cvomes from buying signs which are both verbal,ised or content basxed, and from tone of voice and body language which in turn is conscious and suibconscious. These buying signs often come in first or even second interview because you have matched or exceeded expectations from your CV, and to that point in time are one of the best candidates they have seen. They have the other candidates to go through, and if they have had any training at all, will know to lay subjective thoughts to one side and appraise on a point for point, answer for answer, skill fo skill needed basis. If not then they will colour an interview result, and often a senior manager will wade in with their prejudices from the CV or how they took you on first impressions. Would you want to work for a company with institutionalised racism, sexism, ageism or snobbery? Lucky escape if this happens to you behind the scenes, or well done WASPY Ivy Leagure boy, you landed your first job on  the old vine network.

Post interview these days is not the time to rest on your laurels given a positive interview. Before that beer or wine, put the job behind you and get on with looking for the newest jobs on the market, and the applications you have inevitably postpoined, especially open applications. Do one application before you uncork that Chardonnay,  Keep it to one beer or two if it is midweek, it could be they call you back that evening or next morning 8am to ask a supplementary question or offer you a second interview. Once I was offered a job next morning because I was the best of the candidates by head and shoulders above them, and one not bothering to turn up!

The offer too shouuld give you a gut instinct, but I have had a couple of mediocre wage offers in my life. Mostly thouugh I have established a win win on that front at some point, and pushed a little for information on it. I would say for any job you should ask for a meeting to accpet the letter of appointment and see round the offices. This means that you have them on the spot about a low offer, and also you get to meet some colleagues and gauge the atmosphere of the office. I usually have gone into most any job  I have got  very up and positive, yet in many cases I have found that this is an odd place to work with some bitchy people with nationalist agendas against foreigners like me. I make mistakes again and again, like letting coworkers get a look at my CV or Linking In with them. Ask your boss specifically not to share your CV and take your Linked In off line is my advice.

Getting a job these days feels like winning the world cup, but come back to earth. I have had a couple of jobs where although I was just qualified enough, I was a bookmark so to speak- holding up head count while they maybe got a better internal candidate to come over after a project. This is a very real phenomenon, and if you are unemployed when you get the job, be aware of this. There can be a rack of better candidates who could not start withouut several months of notice or turn down the job because they have an interesting project to complete.

So when you get an offer you have to ask yourself, is this a keeper or is this a stepping stone? Will you tread water and have this as a wating job? What are the risks your skills will fall a little short? What are your personal financial risks in commuting or relocating?  We are back to then getting those other applications forward to a position where we have other options and we can postpone a decision on a job which is a little shakey. I would say a visit to the company is well worht while to meet the team at this point, and worth doing at your own expense to save potentially a lot. Ask some minions and middle managers how it really is in the company and wh\at they expect of the position if you can. Some jobs are very, very different from the way they are dressed up in the advert unfortunetly, For instance a job with 'account manager with responsibillity for major customers' can mean a telesales job trying to win those customers in reality!

At a job club for graduates a long time ago now in the mid 1990s at the end of the course on applications and everything before we got stuck into doing masses of applications, the course leader said "...and when you get a job, don't stop looking for jobs" . I took this as a little trite or even daft at the time, but in fact this is very good advice, especially for us who dont have a golden handcuffed, blue chip career path.

So with people, go with your gut feeling but reel it in a little in terms of being disappointed with a rejection or a job which is not as interesting as advertised, or being thrown into a frying pan of fire fighting and over work as I was in my last two jobs in fact and why I tried consultancy. Take a step back from your gut feeling, and see if the reality of skills match on paper and how they reacted and what they said or asked really supports your positive or negative take out.  Cold light of day stuff though is only attenuating your gut feel a bit IMHO, go with it in making your actual decision always!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Time to T2 - trainspotting and the visitation to the auld nation

Choose Scotland. Choose kalyard kitsch and tartan tinned shortbread. Choose being run by someone in London. Choose being rubbish at national sports, well the ones which people care about. Choose a kilted image of a warrior nation when actually we would most all die from pie induced heart attacks if we ever had to fight. Choose heavy drinking, wife beating, not knowing where your weans are, not caring where your weans are, not caring where you are as long as it is in a pub. Choose waking up in the morning with a warm fuzzy feel that Edinburgh Castle is still there, the mountain tops have snow on them and Euan McGregor is the greatest man to play Euan McGregor on the silver screen ever....

I chose not to choose Scotland, I Moved away.

Then came T2 and I was, by royal invitation, asked to move back, well come back for a week as it would so transpire.

It all went arse about tit really, ,my oldest mate asked me over and having inherited a bob or thousand, said he would pay, The Scot in me at first said no, I am busy trying to start something new, which will inevitably fail, such is life being a presbyterian, self doubting lowlander. Then part of me said this is too good to be true. Then part of me felt guilty for taking advantage of someone who could use the money towards nurturing their cannaboid addiction or paying for the retirement home said misuse will lead to due to the risk of precocious senility. All those typically Scottish thoughts. Maybe I should let Westminster decide for me, BreEntry, personal, not for Doncaster and Sunderland's mumbling racists. I chose not to choose to be Scottish, I chose to come to Scotland on an expenses paid trip to see Trainspotting 2.

I compromised with myself. I had a window, a bit longer than a week. I could stay off FB and shitey SM so no one would really know who was expecting any pish from me in those few days, and claim winter holiday for the next couple as an excuse after the weekend to have some time to recover and see my mate in Edinbra' on the homeward leg  Stretching it to a week brought down the flight and local train costs here enough to rebalance the guilt-benefit equation my inner Scottish wee stupid self was trying so hard to work over to the ' nah, I'm scottish, dont enjoy yourself at someone else's expense". I chose something else, I chose to book the tickets.

Now my oldest pal is a bit chalk to my  cheese . But we have a lot in common, a lot of water under collective bridge of growing up together and growing old apart. We both have moved out of our hometown and started families elsewhere, but he is ahead of me on two counts the cunt. Firstly he has left one already, and had a bairn with another only to be kicked out of her place for his usual self centredness, smart alec ness,  fuckwhittedness and passive aggression. Not always so very passive. He an only child, me practically that too, my brother being more than a decade older than me and off to sea aged 16. Us both facing up to the facts that the world expects more of you as an adult and father than we are fucking well prepared to give back to the cunty cunts.

I did it all wrong just the same, We are small doses with each other, usually his irritation takes about 16 hours and then he starts picking on things and trying to make sure we understand that this is his place or his son should not be told off, or that you may have bought lots of shopping but that bottle of scotch is a gift he will enjoy all the more for not opening before your tail lights leave his gaff or holiday caravan for the last time. I let him however, know that i was comong for longer than a four day weekend stint, and that was saving him money. So he ended up coming down from the darkest and most twiggy bits of the Aberdeenshire sticks to the so called capital with its parliament and shortbread tin castle. Pissing valentines day too, him with the roof down on his saab cabrio, may as well brought a pink, heart shaped balloon and deep throated the wanker with my tongue getting picked up at the Airport.

Like letting your mates tie you to a railway line, I let my mate know where and when I would be coming to Scotchlandshire.He planned accordinglky to enjoy my company to the full, much to my fcuking chagring the cunt, because I wanted to do some clearing out at my mums house in preperation for the inevitability of her entering a nursing home or having a timely demise. I should have lied and arranged to meet him on Friday and done the big night out on what used to be the big night out in Aberdeen, Satruday. I chose not to be smar, I chose to be at his mercy.

It dawned on me that a leopard does not change its spots, they get a little grey and blurred around the edges that is all, some of them fucking well merge it seems too. It took a whole 24 hours before his irritations and irrational 'friends accounting' took hold. As twice before at least I have pitched up with wads of food, I bought a good fifty quids worth of shopping including some ethanol based libationary fluids. And as before he seems to think that staying in one of his hovels is a novelty, kiind of depravitiy tourism, which I should set such a price on as to then transfer the entire ownership of said vittals and alcohol to him. :Two years ago it took my other half to say that he just did not deserve another bottle of scotch for letting us stay two nights at his shitty no longer mobile home rental, no matter how fine the location. It feels like you give someone half the contents of your wallet yet they expect to command its entirity. This has gone on since 2002 I do believe, a fucking decade and a fricking half. Neither of us has sodding well learned.

This time we discussed it though, and I told him to fuck off when he wanted coffee and a sweet after I made dinner night two, having done loads of dishes from god knows when and the preivous nights late night steak, cooked by a smoker who needs a tadd extra salt his nibs  does indeed indeed. He complained about the cheap steak which he had chosen and I had paid for, which I cooked damnable well since it was rump after all, hot pan, let it cool a wee bit after the initial sizzle, rest the fucker after juices rise tropugh on the second turn. I wanted a slosh of wine not to go out and do the coffee at 10pm. Peace broke out as he realised that I wasnt taking his pish seriously, and after some wine and his whining, I waited for an opportune moment to become the immovable object which moved, got hima  coffee and a damn good micropot sticky toffee pudd' and his unstoppable force managed to surrender to inertia. Peace broke out. T2 was still two nights away.

The last evening was spent running around delivering kids, him having gone like a good daddy to baby swimming at half nine and come back 3p,m with no explanation or even a bastard SMS to me. I had taken a lie-in and also taken full advantage of his whisky collection, which he really shouldnt keep in its original boxes as it hides such comrade driven evaporation. I went for a walk in countryside of which likes drove Lewis Grassic Gibbon whats his face to write books from sheer boredom, about something actualy happenign there. Rolling farmland, exposed to the winds from the North Sea and the Snow topped grampians. The long whale's back that is Benachie a little to the south, I can imagine why the picts held it in such reverance as it is the only sticky up bitty of note and elegance amidst miles and miles of sheer boredom. Perhaps it was more fun with bears, wild boar, elg and wolves running around chomping on your relatives or being chomped upon by them.

The day after we took a tour to where I used to live in the very shadow of said mountain. The house I had been lodger in was still there and the farmer, Geordie Skinner, still was the landowner with his Clydesdale horses. The nice lassie at reception at Pittodrie house told me. My mate took full advantage of being on the high margin colas, and the bill came to twenty three fucking quid for two pints, a whisky and those effing colas. It was interesting, because it was newly opened, 25 years ago, when I lived there. A place where I had turned down sexual intercourse with boith a girl of fifteen and a lady in her fifties thankfully. Not at the same time, it was a niece and aunty coincidence only, them liking tall chaps I guess and not having had it for a while.

Aberdeen's great grey corridors beckoned finally, and we made it in time well for the last late night showing of T2. Dinner was in a middles to shitty tex mex, some big retail opportunity site pish with an awful attempt at being original in decor and ambience. A chimichangas, not had since Dublin days out at Black Rock, soaked up most of the hotel room booze we had downed and some of its own interestingly labelled 'blond' beer from a hard up craft brewery somewhere. The film began about 1125. at night. It was almost empty, and we were the only vocal ones,. guffawwing and lauighting out loud.

On choosing life- one of the guys in the ads was right out of RSADA and he blew the proceeds on not chossing life, he chose some dope and had enough weed for all his mates too. He is now a hollywood director, who i beleive has directed Euan McGregor amonghst other names, one for sure is now Harrison Ford.

"It's been twenty years" as Spud put it. I am sick of Nostalgia. Sick and tired of the sick longing to rekindle, to relive to regurge it all Now at last though I find it an interesting experience rather than having either nerves nor excitement. It happened. As it it was back in 1971 when I was a student. Lang Syne. T 2 though obviously left me a little more melancholic, as if by design, for Renton is now a mere one year younger than my good self, and more Euan McGregor than ever befucking fore. Much like some other nostalgia tripping peoiple do, and our day at the Chapel o' Garioch the day before, the film played heavily on the past, quoting a bit too thickly from "T1" so to speak. Howevver it had a good enough series of plots, and wound the characters back together for what must be one last time, please tell us, just this and no more.

As with middle aged life though, you cant go making a comic book hotch potch of random scenes and let those around you work out what the fuck is going on, while you expect everything to be exciting and edgy. That is the mid life crisis, trying to go back to relive your youth or use your accumulated financial resources to OUT live your youth. Life is duller, harder and has responsibilities and regrets. Health is poorer, fitness is notable by its absence as ailments set in. T2 was for me an unnerving parallel universe with Einstiens theories of relativity pissed on, different speeds but the same time line, scared me. These once pop up cartoon characters now had histories, depth and most of all, most of cunting all, the same pathos you find around you and in your own life. Friends dead to you, times as a child a distant echo, the promise of youth denied by the realities of the world where you arent born with a silver spoon up your arse.

I left feeling my age, and feeling vulnerable a bit, but a little Begby in me kept my chin up as we walked up the hill passed the lappers to Union street in the midst of the pub to club transfer time. I found it all intimidating, so muich so that we asked a pair of coppers where to go, and they oddly enough knew a premises licsenced for later night entertainments and refreshments which was suitabkle for two middle aged fuckers who looked like they maybe had been through lives not unlike those of Renton and co. Drummonds had been on the go a quarter of a century ago as  kind of indie rock bar, and now it was a kind of noisy rocky bar, with various detritus who did not fit into, or did not want to fit into the plastic club scene and had seen enough   labias and bleached anuses for one life time donw the lappers already.  The bonniest Jean in the toon of aberdeen even admired my Hunter S' style attire, hawaiin shirt under leather jacket, and kissed me, mostly because it was her first chance to enter demial about becoming engaged to, remarkably enough, a Johnny Lee Miller look alike who was celebrating his 40th. We down some more, and then sauntered off to the Casino,

I was feelign rather jolly at this point, and I had the furhter pleasure of the world's self appointed smartest alec, pish all his money away on the bad odds of the roulette wheel and the five pound stake black Jack table. THe beer was good though. A taxi back o'er the Dee to some god forsaken Hotel somewhere I did not really remember south of the city other than a big retail pharmacy lay out there and you could eventually get to Cove. 5 am we got to sleep, and the arse decided brekkie would be maccie dees, down the road. Him not being a breakfast man. Luckiuly there was tea and shortbread and some baguette at my place for me.

I took off down the road then to see my crumbkling old mother in the west coast. Not quite fully incontinent, however th\e smell of pee was notable. as was her yet more reduced mobility., Yet what can you do, be there for her, be nice, hug her, run after her a bit and ask all around care supporters and neighbours if she should be in a home against her will, or if she is kind of relatibvewly speaking coping. Which my brother does not agree with ,and rubs his hands at my meagre inheritance being pished away in private nursing home land, five hundert a week. She is no longer just in the long autumn of her life, she is in the flickering last light of december the 31st I do believe. And that is both a great sadness, but also a great joy. As with T2 there were some jamais vu things, happened. I came across old photos of me, pretty much first time home from hospital with my red haired, proud mum standing there as my bother swaddled me in his arms while wearing a klnd smile / not that I have seen that much since, there is usually a patronising or derisory look in his eye when he smiles at me. That gave me a great joy, to realise that I had come home to love and given my mum so much pleasure of being a mother again having lost at least two bairns in pregnancy I have heard about. I was not such a difficult wee boy, and we enjoyed many good times just me and her, going to London to see the museums in the autuimn holidays, or taking my pals on a picnic on Loch Fyne. She enjoyed my freinds parents, mostly outliving them all as she approaches 90 next birthday. She gets great joy now of knowing I have a family and she will see them once more at least before she is released from the pains in her body which come with such age.

It was nice for her  to see me, you see. A few vistis earlier I felt stressed out and worried for her, and for me in a way. My childhood environment, our great family pile, our home, our caslte was going to be squandered away and bought inevitably by a developer to be bulldozed into oblivion and superceded with six figure properties. My refuge too as an adult in times of financial hardness and loss of jobs. Finally moving home to look after her when she broker her leg and hip and being resided to my local lot away from the metropollii and job prospoects. This time though, no, the house is a home still for her, it will pass on with her into history and those stories, uniquely just our familky as it was buiilt for us, will be remembered well by those who remain, and the photos of times before those again, will enter our own little folklore. You can level a house, but as long as the folk are long gone, you can never level away the joys and the strife, the happiness, the tears, the rich history every family experienced within such a long standing little mansion to the ordinary, middle income slekt.

I like the anonymitiy of being back at a place from which my generation pissed off from, it being boring as hell and representing the whole econbomic pressure cooker with the lock being those in privelidge of wealth or age or both,. The older sitting in safe jobs for thirty years, the young wondering why they would never afford a fucking house. One more old palk turned out to be visiting thouuygh and we had a good pint and a chat of real old times at secondary school with his mum and then down the boozer. No one knew me at the pub, and I knew one person though, I used to feel like I was hauinting the places there, about to bump into the living and scare them or be banished or exorcised by them. The last few trips the dribble of faces I knew and could maybe be bothered to talk to, ran dry and I became pleased after a while to have my anonymity. No one to know me, no one to cut me down to size, and no one to have trivial life explaining conversations where one party walks out dissatisfied with their own lives or bored to death at the very least.

In the house, thiis time i could ruthlessly throw stuff out I had gathered over the years. A lot of it actually wasnt mine, it was stuff which had been packed in with mine. I went through my old shoe boxes of post cards, and found a different view of myself. Old love letters - did I ever read of how much Sandra and Esther loved me? Did Kirsten not deserve a reply? Could Fiona have been the one for me? The wealth of the life I had came back to me from the late 80s when I was a young man about Uni. And what a nice coincidenc at one of my favourite pals from that time was home in Edina and could go for a beer on my last night. I threw out the detritus, the old train tickets, the old UCCA applications, variuous tatt, but wnet rhought a lot, careful to keep those little momentos and a time line especuially from uni in those wonderful four years, 86 to 90. I chucked out more stuff than I have ever, ever done before, without flinching. Such is life, loose the shit you no longer need and move on.

Edinburgh came after a last indulgence at the Esdquire house weatherpoons, a place I had flirted a couple of times with the Newton Mainrs/ ears Den females. Sandy or craig or both worked there in the 80s. I had a steak pudding instead of a flirt. and changed trains at GSQst. Martin met me off the Calton street road exit, I think it was thirty years since I came out there last, bursting onto the windy, dry evening with Kenny Dobie on a visit to the auld toon, to meet Sandra. He did some parent stuff,. His kid was quick to get on the phone after his athletics night at Meadowbank, and leave us oldies alone. We eventually wandered out for a bus, which completely confused me as for direcvtion, rendering me 180 degrees out in a mystical uphill part of Leith as far out as Portie' in my mind's eye. We had in fact gone round and were  facing back up towards the new toon, the Leith west triangle catching me as many a dribver, out.

The pub half way up Leith Walk was a kind of hipsterish place with a couple of good beers on the go. Craft beers are indeed a bit better crafted than big brewery ones. We chatted of old times, and who and what, but as always wi  Martin, we talked alot about the now time, the future, politics and personal economics, relationships etc. The bogs had a pile of posters, retro clubs, alternative nights, The clientel appeared suddenly bohemian as were the bar staff. I realised that we are now in a new underground era, the same as we had in the otherwise plastic, thatcherite eighties were there was a hard street movement against all the sqaureness. 

Life suddenly seemed even brighter than it had at Drummonds in Aberdeen or with my old pal at my local, or seeing my mum smile. I felt like a ghost yes, but one who was allowed to be human there for a week and wanted their life back , and got more of their life back than they had bargained for. A bit too much maybe, because now I want to Choose Life, Choose Scotland, choose waking up in the morning and knowing who the fuck I am.