Gosh it's cold here today - the suns out but it is bitterly cold. But no snow yet thank goodness. I've put a stew in the slow oven today - it's 'stew' type of weather isn't it?.
The kitchen is 3/4's of the way done now - I shall be so glad to get back straight and all back to normal and hopefully then I can start to think about going out in the garden and getting work done out there once more.
Work around the house and home is never ending isn't it?
Now the next instalment of my working life - I moved on to Customer Service but only for a short while - probably only 18 months. The council that I worked for by this time were flat broke and had no money for repairs to our properties. it was quite demoralising having to keep telling customers that they couldn't have their repairs undertaken or that we weren't letting properties because we couldn't afford to do the repairs on them to bring them up to a decent state for someone to move into.
It was the time that this country seriously started taking asylum seekers in the 1990's and this council saw the asylum seekers as another form of income from the government so they turned over as much high rise flatted accommodation as they could for asylum seekers only.
Personally I would say that the first asylum seekers were genuinely unable to return to their own country but as we took more and more of them - it was obvious that they saw this country as a easy touch.
When they came to us, we provided them with a flat which was carpeted throughout, with curtains and then they had their own bedroom with bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers along with all bedding provided - in the lounge we provided a 3 piece suite and coffee table and in the kitchen there was a cooker, fridge and washer along with all the cooking implements that they needed. Then they got money on top of all this for food and energy - they were unable to work as until they had been given 'leave to stay' by the Home Office, as they didn't have an N.I. number.
Once they were accepted as genuinely seeking asylum here by the home office then we stopped all the special payments and they had to claim job seekers allowance and we threw them out of the properties and made them homeless! The properties were specifically for asylum seekers - once accepted, they were out of the properties and had to wait for a normal property the same as everyone else did. Mind it could take the government up to 5 years to decide if they were genuine or not, so some were sitting pretty all that time.
One day I was on front desk and an asylum seeker came in - he said 'I vant anuk' I must have looked at him a little puzzled because he said 'anuk, anuk' I thought oh we've got one here!. So I said to him 'What do you want anuk for?' He walked over to the wall and said 'I vant anuk for tea towel' and proceeded to show me how he was going to hook his tea towel onto a hook.
I thought you cheeky blighter, haven't we given you enough and now you want a hook fitting for your tea towel!
So I said to him - you know that big shop down the road that's called Wilkinsons and he nodded yes, I continued 'Well, if you go down there, you'll be able to find a stick-on hook that you can buy and put up yourself' ( I put a lot of emphasise on the word 'you') You'd have thought that I'd hit him with a big stick, for the look on his face and he said in a high pitched voice 'Me, Me buy' and I said Yes the council hasn't got the money to run round and stick a hook up for you! I got an 'Oh' in response and off he trot.
If I had a pound for every time that I had a customer come in for a new toilet seat to be fitted by the council then I would have been able to retire even earlier. They would come in and say I need a new toilet seat fitted and I would say that's your responsibility and you'd get 'But it's a council house and I would say it's quite clearly stated in your tenancy agreement that toilet seats are the responsibility of the tenant. You'd get again 'But it's a council house! and I'd think yes and it's your backside that's going to sit on it! then you'd get 'Don't the council fit them' and I would smile sweetly and say' No we don't - Wilkinsons is down the road though and they sell them' ( I must have directed so many to Wilkinsons that I should have had a share in the profits!)
One day Ian and I were standing in reception as a woman walked in and from a few feet away shouted 'Here, an you can ave that!' as a dead rat came flying through the air, it landed on the front desk and skidded to a thud against the computer keyboard. It turned out that she'd got rats which of course was the councils fault! Ian removed the offending animal and I got my disinfectant spray out and cleaned everything down.
The best of it was that we were working in little wooden huts so that we were local to the area, the huts had been put up 20 years earlier and we'd been told then that they were for a couple of years whilst the council found other local offices - it never happened and 20 years on we were still offering a council service from these huts. The huts were dire as a working environment - you froze in the winter and roasted in the summer. We already had rats under the office that the disinfestation team couldn't clear, no matter how much poison they put down. If I was first in on a morning I would turn the alarm off and then jump my way up and down the office like a kangaroo to scare off any rats that may have got in over night. I've always been a 'big' girl so it used to sound like a heard of elephants was passing through. Ian caught me one morning and said 'What the bloody hell are you doing' and I said 'scarring any rats off' Ian replied 'I should think you've done that and deafened them in the process!'
I used to complain that I had an upset stomach each Monday evening and that it must have been something in the office that was upsetting me - I went on leave one week and when I came back the office was all closed up - I found out that they'd finally listened to my moaning and had the water tested and the water pipes were contaminated and they'd had to shut the office until the works were completed as it was detrimental to health. We all had to go and work from another office.
I used to keep a can of air freshener and a bottle of disinfectant spray in my desk as they both came in handy - some people could whiff a little. My Nan used to say that cleanliness was next to godliness - some people have never heard of that saying and must have problems realising what you actually have soap for.
We had a middle aged gentleman who was disabled and his carers would come in each morning, get him out of bed and into his wheelchair and then come back at 7 o'clock and put him back into bed. He had a young man who was supposed to be his 'carer' but was only around when he picked his benefits up. Now the problem this gentleman had was that if he needed the toilet during the day he had problems with getting his trousers up and down and keeping himself clean after he'd 'been'. He has come in to the office so many times with his hands and trousers covered in his own excrement - that the bottle of disinfectant spray and air freshener would have to come out after most of his visits. We spoke to Social Services but they didn't care less about him as far as they were concerned he was getting his 20 minutes of care in the morning and again the same in the evening and that was all he was entitled too.
One summer this gentleman came to the conclusion that he'd had enough of his smelly trousers and took to going to sit out with just a hand towel covering his 'bits'. We told him that he couldn't sit in the communal garden with just a hand towel on his 'bits' because he was upsetting the old ladies who lived in that block of flats and didn't want to see goodness what if the wind blew his towel up. He just laughed at us.
Didn't laugh when he was arrested for exposing himself in the middle of Asda when the towel slipped again though! Mind, Social Services had to get involved then and they found him sheltered accommodation where there was someone around to check that he was ok and not going out with just a towel to cover his 'bits'.
The one thing that amazed me on Customer Service was the amount of young women who deliberately set out to be single parents - I was a single parent but not by choice and not until my children was older. But these young girls of 16 or 17 would come in to register for a council property, they'd be pregnant but there never was a young man with them. They'd register as a single applicant. I used to think well there all not the virgin Mary so where are the chaps that have done the deed - honestly they were nowhere to be seen and then 12 months after the first child was born they'd be back pregnant again and when the second was born you could guarantee that that child would have a different surname to the first and they were all on income support. Filling in a housing application form for someone could get difficult because you could never assume that all the children had the same surname!
I know I'm old fashioned but I believe its important that a child has 2 parents to bring them up and care for them (preferably with the same surname) sorry but that was the way I was brought up and the morals that I brought my children up with and which they've consequently followed. Believe me, there is a section of society out there that hasn't got a clue what a Daddy does.
After this period I moved onto dealing with anti-social behaviour - tell you about that another time
Keep safe and warm