Friday, 27 July 2012

How the girl in me got a pretty bra

Sometimes I think the girly gene was excised out of me at some point in my youth, perhaps along with the hernia I had when I was a little person.

Don't get me wrong I am far from a tomboy I just...don't care about stuff like, you know, looking good.

I am notorious for being completely oblivious to how people look - I don't notice when people change their hair colour, I haven't got a clue if you're wearing a new outfit and I absolutely, 100% will not be able to tell if you need your eyebrows plucking. I just couldn't care less.

But sometimes. Just sometimes the girl in me fights to get out. She likes her sparklies and sometimes she'll even like a dress or two. She even thinks that it would be nice to have massage.

(And to be fair, she always has her nails painted.)

For some reason, the girly gene never expressed itself in the underwear department. I was never going to lure some man into my bed with the promise of a bit of lace or satin - I had to make them laugh and then turn the lights off for disrobing.

I wish I was one of those girls with pretty matching sets of underwear that always look perfect and don't just look weird because you've worn the pants more often and now they look a little bit grubby because they've been washed far more than the bra. Heck I wish I was the kind of person who hand-washed her bras like she was supposed to and didn't get them ripped up in the washing machine.

Obviously at the moment spending has been limited to the bare minimum, and much as I would like to try and argue that a woman's right to pretty underwear is just as important as eating and paying her phone bill I think I'd be on to a lost cause.

Enter Char - a.k.a. t*rexes and tiaras or @dinoprincesschr

She held a most marvellous giveaway on her blog to win a £50 Simply Beach voucher and by some luck of the Gods I won (see things do go right for me - I must remember this when I'm next having a complete meltdown).

I had never even heard of this website before but once I loaded up the website, a world of amazingness unfolded before me. Swimsuits and bikinis and nightwear and sports bras and lingerie were all in front of me, almost too much to take in. (By the way, when did swimsuits get cool?)

With no holidays in sight and the likelihood of me getting in a pool in public about as likely as me running down Fishergate in Preston city centre in my bra and pants, I decided to unleash the girl and go for the pretty stuff.

And they don't come prettier than this - it is pink and is covered in flowers. Winner. And it's now in the sale you lucky beggars. I felt I couldn't just get the bra and not get the knickers to match - with a promise to only wear them when I wear the bra so that they grow old and get grubby together.

I still had a little bit of money in the pot and I figured that after not buying anything fun for such a long time, I could justify spending a little bit of money on something frivolous. I decided to go for the ultimate in girly bras. Namely, one that makes your chesticle look its best. There can only be one name and that is Wonderbra. It's been a long time since I had one of these - it was back before I had a lot to talk about and I loved that bra, it was a staple of any night's out outfit. I have quite a bit more now than I did back then but they could always do with a hand and this guy is the bee's knees.

The best thing though? I ordered my new companions at about 11.30pm on the Wednesday night in a strange late night shopping spree. I had an e-mail when I woke up the next morning to say that my items had been dispatched and when I came home from London town on Saturday they were there in the postbox waiting for me.

Impressive non?

Thank you Char and thank you Simply Beach. You gave me a lift when I needed it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and be a girl...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Everything that is wrong with The System a.k.a. Conversations in the Dole Queue

So for those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (you should, I'm @Shippers1983) and aren't friends with me on Facebook (reserved for the special few) then you won't know that I have a little bit of good news - I have a job!

I got the call yesterday after having an interview last week and it's for an administrative job in Chorley. It's really not great money and it's going to be a bit of a commute but it's a job and it'll hopefully see the return of my feeling of self worth and hopefully chase some of the dark clouds away.

It's odd because truth be told I'm actually a little embarassed about it - I was working doing a pretty cool job that I was getting (after a long time) decently paid for and now I'm doing something that many would see as a step down (certainly in salary terms) and it's led me to downplay it a little bit or fend off the congratulations by saying "It's not that great really."

But it reminded me of a conversation I had with a delightful chap last time I was at the Job Centre to sign on...

Him: They've stopped my money because they said I have to do 15 things a week to prove I've been looking for work and I haven't done it.
Me: [Non-commital nod. Try to move slightly away and not have this conversation]
Him: I mean 15 things, can you believe it?
Me: [Unable to resist being drawn in] Erm, yeah I can. I have to do the same.
Him: Well I know for a fact that there's only one job going in Preston. One. job. And that's sitting at a conveyor belt sorting out recycling. I'm not doing that.
Me: [No response - blood pressure starting to rise]
Him: I mean would you? Would you do that?
Me: Well if it really was the only job and they were going to stop my money then yeah I would
Him: ...Well...I'm not doing that.


Him: What is it that you do then?
Me: Well I did research but I was made redundant so now I'm looking for anything really, admin whatever I need to do.
Him: How old are you?
Me: I'm 29
Him: When I was about your age I was working in holiday camps at Butlins and what have you, did that for a few years...and I worked in London when I was in my see I've done my bit. I'm not sorting out recycling on a conveyor belt.

I've done my bit.

Luckily at this point the doors were opened and I made my way inside before the rage engulfed me and I beat him to death with my signing-on book.

You've done your bit? Excuse me? You are what - 50 years old? So now it's the State's responsibility to look after you? Are you a pensioner? No you not. That is when you're allowed to say you've done your bit.

And also who did you do your bit for? Are you applying that you've done it for everyone else in the country? Because I believe you did it for yourself and how very dare you stand there and say you're too good for job.

You are not too good to do anything. You are currently not contributing to society in any way, shape or form. (Good god he couldn't even have a shave and wash your hair so he looked nice for society at least.)

You are as good as the job you are currently in. If you are unemployed then you are at the bottom of the ladder and it is beyond me why you think you can sprout wings and fly to the top of it. You put your hands on the side and you lift one foot on to the bottom rung and you go from there. If that means you sort rubbish on a conveyor belt then suck it up and sort rubbish on a conveyor belt, if that means I have to go and do a job that pays £7k less than I was previously on then I do it.

That is doing your bit and you are not done until you can support yourself.


Monday, 23 July 2012

Crazy Cat Lady Part 19: The Big Cat Edition

First things first, let me say thank you for the kind comments that you took the time out to write to me on my last post. I know that everyone has a lot of blogs to read and not many hours in the day so I do appreciate that people took the time to say hang in there. I am hanging in there and I'm just seeing how things go at the moment before I make any big decisions.


The one thing that I did realise I needed was time out. Being unemployed is no picnic and I know it's probably hard to believe when you're not in this position, but it can actually be as draining as having a full time job. You never let up worrying and most of the time I spent working I now spend job searching.

Doley bums deserve holidays too y'know.

You know The Person? He may struggle with the washing up but one thing that he does not struggle with is buying presents. He's the best present buyer ever. Ever. 

For my birthday in April he got me the present to top all presents.

There's more than a slight chance that you're aware that I like cats. Like pretty much a lot. I may be one of the few women who actively aspire to be a crazy cat lady when they grow up. What present do you get a lady who likes cats?

Unfortunately not a real cat (we live in a rented first floor apartment that doesn't allow pets, believe me, if we could have a cat we would have one, I don't torture myself for the fun of it), but the next best thing...

A Big Cat Encounter.

This encounter takes place at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation down in Kent. This is a breeding centre for big cats and only opens to the public a couple of days during the year but they do offer people the chance to be a Ranger for the Day, Photography Days and Big Cat Encounter Days where you get a guided tour around the centre, getting up close to the kitties and even getting the opportunity to hand-feed a cat of your choice.

Now. Has anyone seen the video of Kristen Bell and the sloth? If not, you should, it's hilarious.

I had a reaction that was somewhere on that scale, although perhaps not as extreme. I was so excited when I opened the envelope containing the voucher for the day that I didn't know what to do with myself. Any extreme emotion that I have has the uncanny ability to come out of my eyes - my emotions leak down my face whether I'm happy or sad. So when I opened the envelope my reaction was to cry happy excited tears and then phone/text everyone I knew, telling them about the present.


So last week The Person and I made the journey down to London. The next day we took a train out to Headcorn and then a taxi to the Foundation. I was a buzzing mess by the time we got there, oscillating between being over-excited and being convinced that I had somehow done the booking wrong and we were turning up on the wrong day/at the wrong time etc etc.

Then commenced the best few hours of my life. I really did get up close and personal with some absolutely beautiful cats and it was better than I ever could have expected. Our guide, Vanessa, was brilliant and her love for all the cats was so evident as she showed us around.

We saw pumas and a jaguar (whose spots were so perfect it was honestly like someone had painted him) and tigers and lions and a cheetah (who shares the same birthday as me) and leopards and Pallas cats and teeny tiny rusty spotted cats.

I knew that I'd be getting the chance to hand feed one of the cats but I had no idea that I'd get the chance to touch them as well. But some of the cats are really happy to come over and be stroked and will come and lie alongside the fence so, with the palm of your hand, you can feel their fur. The first time I got the chance to do that I nearly lost it...

The most surprising thing is that they're not rough like you might expect them to be. Their fur feels just like a domestic cats, all soft and fluffy and silky to the touch.

And let me tell you, feeding a tiger is easier and much less stressful than trying to feed Fred and Lily. It's impossible to do that without bleeding from some part of your hand or arm. Tigers however are impeccably behaved and take their chicken nicely.

I have now sworn never to say when I see a moggy, "Oh what big paws he has", because now I have seen,  these paws...

...which belong to a beautiful snow leopard who gave my hand a lovely big sniff.

One of our favourites was the Pallas Cats who are strangely less like cats than the big cats. You would think they would be more likely domestic cats, given their size, but they are very strangely like monkeys in the way in which they look and move about.

In short it was a day to remember. I absolutely loved it and would recommend the day to anyone and also for you to go and check out the website and like them on Facebook. (Where you'll be able to see some of the latest additions to the park, 2 baby Amur leopard cubs who I was lucky enough to see playing about with their Mum.) And if you love cats then do it, do it do it do it because it is an experience of a lifetime.

It is safe to say that I'm no less of a crazy cat lady now than I was before.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Saturday 14th July

On Saturday I had what I believe can only be described as some kind of breakdown. 

The past 6 months of getting on with stuff, and putting a brave face on and making jokes about my situation came out in one rather spectacular show of emotion.

At the end I sat down and wrote everything that I was feeling.

I have ummed and aahed about whether to post this because I know there are some stronger people than me who will dismiss it as self-pitying nonsense but I've decided that I will post it. This blog is supposed to be about me and it would be a gross omission to leave out something as significant as this.

I apologise in advance. It's a lengthy one and I'll give you a medal if you made it to the end.

To those who will roll their eyes after reading it - sorry. But you couldn't make me feel worse about myself than I already do so don't worry.


In hindsight it had probably been coming on all week, like an unseasonal change in the weather.

All week I wasn’t quite right. I wasn’t on form and my usual lists weren’t doing the trick at keeping me on track. I said that I was going easy on myself  for a week after a knockout couple of weeks on the job searching front but the truth was that I wasn’t capable of doing anything other than give myself time off. I wasn’t actively not looking for work, I was just unable to muster up the energy to do anything at all.

Tuesday was a bad day. I cried over stupid things which isn’t like me at all. I get mad and frustrated at stupid things but not cry. They were so insignificant that I couldn’t work it out at all. At one point I cried because I couldn’t find where I’d put my book. I got upset about something someone said on Twitter – normally it would bounce off but it really got under my skin. After 2 weeks of almost incessant running and 30 Day Shredding and eating healthily I had put on weight yet again.  Only a couple of lbs in a couple of weeks but a nonsensical gain which made me well up.

But I carried on because that’s what you do. Told myself I was entitled to have some crappy days, after all, I’m in a crappy situation at the moment.

I got upset on Friday after being rejected from a job I didn’t want anyway – but the reason behind not getting the job highlighted all the things that I feel are wrong with the current system of dealing with unemployment and I was so incredibly frustrated that I couldn’t find any other way to express the emotion other than through my eyes.

Saturday started off totally normally. The Person was taking part in the UK Corporate Games and was Dragon Boat Racing on the Docks right by our flat. I went down to watch the first race and cheered him on and came back to the flat to hang out for a bit before going down to watch some more races.

I don’t even know when it hit me which seems bizarre given the reaction it had. You would have thought there would have been some significant moment that indicated the point when I slid into oblivion, but instead I just found myself in there.

I’ve spoken before about The Pit. But my god that pit was a niggly pothole. This baby was a yawning chasm which had opened up out of nowhere.

I went from fine to very much not fine in the blink of an eye. The Person came home to find a completely different person in his flat to the one he’d seen a couple of hours before. A snarling, unpleasant, awful person who was a really not nice human being.

I didn’t go down to watch him race again. Want to know why? I hated that he was having fun. I hated that he was winning at something and doing really well at it. I hated that whilst he got to have fun with his friends I had to sit in the flat alone because I have no friends here. An oversight had meant that he didn’t have his keys with him, meaning I was forced to stay indoors to wait for him. No big deal normally but it absolutely enraged me because this is exactly what I do 5 days a week – sit in the flat alone.

I knew that I was being unreasonable and ridiculous and when he text to say they were in the Final of the Dragon Boat Racing I dragged myself down to watch and cheer. And I did. But I don’t know when I’ve ever had to try so hard at something.

I knew that I was being unreasonable and ridiculous and when he text to say they were in the Final of the Dragon Boat Racing I dragged myself down to watch and cheer. And I did. But I don’t know when I’ve ever had to try so hard at something.

In the end I snapped. And I hated myself for snapping but I think it had to happen. It’s funny because in the past I would have called is self-pity but this wasn’t it. I wasn’t sitting there going “Poor me, my life is so bad” or going “Good god woman, get a hold of yourself, people have it so much worse than you.” It was self-loathing. This was a feeling which, quite frankly, dicked all over self pity. I hated myself.

I hated myself for what I’d become. I hated that I’d suddenly turned into a person that actually resented someone else for going out and having fun. I was some kind of pondlife with, quite literally, no worth. I hadn’t been able to prove myself sufficiently to be able to avoid being made redundant, I hadn’t been able to prove myself worthy of employment to anyone else, I wasn’t even capable of obeying science, which states that if you’re burning off more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. I couldn’t even stop my sunflowers being attacked by aphids. A restyle project I was undertaking wasn’t going to work, despite my best efforts, leaving me with a ruined piece of furniture. I’m a person seems apparently incapable of keeping friends. I can’t even run without getting injured. I was not only burdening The Person with myself financially, I was now burdening him with a complete wreck of a human being.

And I thought I was never going to stop crying. I have never ever cried like that. Not at births, marriages, funerals, break-ups, not even ET. I literally could not stop myself. I wanted to scream. I wanted to just not be here anymore. I’m not making any grand “I wanted to kill myself” statements, I just wanted to not exist anymore because there was literally no point to me.

I had no worth as a human being. Nothing I did went right. I had nothing to offer anyone except misery – I’m some kind of vacuum which just sucks in people’s souls and doesn’t emit anything out.

I had nothing left to give. I knew I couldn’t answer another well-meaning text asking me how the job hunt was going.

And believe me I know my problems are few. I’m not dying. I have family. I had someone to go to when I lost my job, some people don’t. I know all these things and I loathe myself for it.  Not pity, loathe. Actively hate myself for not even being capable of dealing with a minor bump in the road. I’m supposed to be a capable person. But no, I’m so worthless that I wouldn’t even be capable of dealing with a major life event like death, I’m so worthless I’ve crumpled at the first hurdle.

I should have been tired. I should have been completely drained of energy. I had cried and cried (and I mean gulping, heaving, lung-shaking sobs) for well over an hour and I literally could not stop myself. I kept willing the tears to stop but they refused. I think The Person thought I was getting hysterical and said “That’s enough. You have to stop.” And to be fair it calmed down, but I still wasn’t tired.

And so I got up and came and wrote the words you’ve just read (if you’ve got this far).

I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. I would have thought that after all the crying and now the outpouring of emotions on to page I would feel as if a weight had been lifted. I know that sometimes you need a good cry just to get it out of your system. But this wasn’t a normal cry, this was something which almost had a life of its own.

And now I don’t really feel anything. Which is such a clichĂ© I have hesitated to write it and tried to find a clever way of saying it without using the word “numb”. But it’s true. I don’t feel relieved but nor do I feel any pressure on me. I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other.

It’s funny really because just the other night we were talking about how different we are when it comes to emotions. To plot a graph of The Person’s feelings during a day you would be presented with a more or less horizontal line, with maybe some increases or decreases to indicate changes in emotions (most likely around feeding times). My graph would be like a print out from a seismograph featuring massive, almost impossible peaks and troughs in a 24 hour period. What can I say, I have big reactions, I’m either ecstatically happy or unreasonably outraged or incredibly sad. Now I think I have achieved my horizontal line; there is no turbulence

Maybe this is a good way to be. Maybe this is surrendering myself to the fates. Maybe if I was Godly I would be saying “Ok. Let’s do it, you’re doing this for a reason so let’s keep going until I’m out of the other side.” Perhaps, when you get to this point where there is nothing left to give and no more fight and no more cheery platitudes to offer up, this means you’re out the other side. Is this what they mean when the say that when you’ve hit rock bottom you can go no further? 

I guess I just sit and wait.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Kitchen Wars

"I'm just going to do the washing up" The Person says.

You may think, "How wonderful, how lucky she is to have a boyfriend who does the chores without being nagged."

But wait.

Because when he's finished in the kitchen, this is what I walk into...

Who knows how or why this phenomenon occurs;

- Maybe he's unable to stand for long periods of time
- Perhaps he gets cramp in his sponge-hand and is unable to continue due to seizures
- Maybe doing all of the washing up will result in the opening of a wormhole which we will all fall into

I am yet to uncover the reason but I will let you know when I do.

*The blue ring of death indicates one of my pet hates. People who leave the sponge in the sink and don't squeeze out the excess water and leave it on the side to dry. I loathe picking up a fetid gross wet sponge that's been in the sink all day. Just saying.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Observations of the unemployed #008

I've realised I'm not done yet.

I've always been pretty vocal about the fact that I'm not a career-driven person. I've always said that if I won the lottery I'd be outta there, I wouldn't stay in work, I'd sit on my arse all day. Or if I married a very wealthy man I'd become a lady what lunches.

However now that I am sat on my arse all day it turns out it's really not what I want.

I'm not done yet.

I fell into my job by accident but it turns out that I really enjoy it and there's still so much more that I want to do. I'm not eager to reach heady heights, I'm not looking to make a packet, but I definitely don't want to stop right now.

Unfortunately, when you're in my position there comes a point where you realise that though it would be lovely to have a job I really want to do, I also need to get some money into my bank account because the £240 I'm pulling in a month through JSA doesn't cover much.

So I'm applying for the jobs that I really want, alongside the jobs that I don't really want, but will pay some bills.

I would have said, in the past, I'd be happy to do any kind of job but actually I don't really want to. I've been applying for admin/receptionist roles and they are not what I want to do. I'm not saying I'm better than that but I'm not done and once I'm in a job that means less time for me to spend looking for my ideal job.

I think I'm just scared that if I get in an admin job, I'll get stuck there. I'll be comfortable, I'll be happy just plodding along and not using my brain to its full capacity and before I know it I'll be talking about this one time when I did research. And that thought scares the bejeebus out of me.

I'm. not. done. yet.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


It's funny really. I have all the time in the world to blog at the moment. I should be some kind of blogging machine, spurting my witty and insightful thoughts out into the webosphere.

Instead I find myself completely blogger-blocked.

I know I have lots to say, heck you know me, I have a list of things I want to blog about, but for some reason whenever I sit down to put my fingers to the keys I can almost feel my brain shutting down and the ability to form coherent sentences draining away.

I don't know what to do in these situations - should I sit down and just power through or should I just chill the heck out and hope that the floodgates open? Sometimes there's nothing more paralysing than the white page staring back at you.

It doesn't help either that I'm struggling to be positive at the moment. Like really struggling. Like treading water struggling. And no-one wants to read a blog of misery (unless I happen to have any angsty teenage readers that I don't know about?).

I thought that the best thing to do is just write something and so I thought I'd do a post that I don't normally do. I'm not usually the one for pictures of flowers/nature/this is a cup of tea posts but everyone loves pictures of baby animals? Right?

Remember the swans I showed you in this post, in their fancy-pants nest?

They had their swucklings!

Hurray for nature!

As you can see they had them quite a while ago but it's taken me an unforgiveably long time to get around to taking photos of them. These pictures were taken this Saturday when I finally remembered to take my camera out with me to the shops.

We stood for a while and watched them doing their swuckling thing. They're independent chappies now and while we were there they decided they were sick of sitting about and took themselves off for a little swim. I have decided that I will probably make the most terrible over-bearing parent ever, I was getting perturbed that the swans were far too busy preening themselves and not paying attention to what their offspring were doing.

But they just looked so tiny when they were swimming out there on their own.

But it's cool. Either Mum or Dad (unfortunately I am not able to sex swans at a distance) realised they were being adventurous souls and decided to go and chaperone and make sure everything was tickety-boo.

Apologies for swuckling-spamming you. Hopefully I will get back to normal blogging behaviour soon. I'll have to. I don't have any pictures of baby animals left.


*EDIT: In case you missed the story I've told many times before, or think I'm a complete moron (which is apparenly the case) I know they're not called swucklings. Heck I even know the right way to spell cygnets. When I was very young, I was at the park with my Mum when some cygnets came into view, Mum said "Oh look there's some....." and immediately found her brain had gone blank with the right word, in a panic she reached for the closest mash-up of words she could and exclaimed "SWUCKLINGS."!

And hence swucklings was born.

Apologies for treating this blog as if it's my own space where I can put my own stuff. I will remember better in future and make sure all correct nomenclature is used.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Observations of the Unemployed #007

The List will stop you falling into complete malaise

If you want to avoid Observation #005 then a routine is vital. It is for me anyway because if there's one thing I hate, it's the thought that I've wasted time. You know how you have a day off work and you are really looking forward to it and then all of sudden you realise it's 4pm and you've achieved absolutely nothing? Unemployment can be one long stream of those days.

So in order for me to avoid this pitfall I have turned to my favourite friend - The List.

The List never lets me down. The List keeps me on track and holds me to account.

As I've mentioned before, when I go to sign on every other week I have to provide evidence of 15 searches for work that I've done each week. That doesn't have to mean that I have to apply for 15 jobs - I just have to prove that I've made an attempt to find something.

It's a much less daunting prospect if I split it down into 3 things a day so those make up the beginning of the list. I try to get them done in the morning because then they are over and done with - pow pow pow.

Everything goes on there - small and large - 30 Day Shred goes on there (and trust me, if it wasn't on there I'd be much more tempted to slime my way out of doing it). Washing the dishes goes on there. Writing e-mails/letters go on there. Anything big and small goes on there.

You see the thing is, when you're out of work it doesn't take long before you start to feel pretty useless at life and all that goes with it. The List helps me feel like I'm achieving something. OK I might not be bringing any money in but I can tick everything off a list, so in your face feelings of uselessness.

And with that sentence I can cross off the last thing on my list - write a blog post.


There should be photos to accompany this post but my card reader on my laptop doesn't appear to   be working. I'll add trying to fix that on to my list tomorrow.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Crazy Cat Lady Part 18: Bagpuss

I do apologise. In my last Crazy Cat Lady post, I completely forgot to include two of the best photos from the weekend.

I believe I have mentioned before Fred's penchant for getting into bags/boxes that are left lying around the house. This trip was no exception. My sister brought things in her reusable carrier bags and Fred dutifully claimed one for his own.

He wasn't interested in playing. He just wanted to sit in there and watch us all from his den. Mum, my sister and I left him to it and went into the kitchen for whatever reason it is that people like to congregate in kitchens when they are in a group.

However upon returning to the lounge, my Mum, sister and I were greeted by this sight.

I don't even think they appreciate what comedy geniuses they are.