Ficklish Blog

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kicking back...

So! Warm greetings from London’s most idle and indolent lady of leisure. I am a couple of weeks into my involuntary (though not unwelcome) period of unemployment and do you know what I’ve been up to?

Absolutely nothing.

I have long suspected that my capacity for sloth approaches infinity. When I have a normal work/play schedule, I dream of having entire days at my disposal in which to accomplish the many projects and goals that live as wee fond dreams in my heart. So, then, when given just what I asked for, do you know how much I get done? Yeah.

I sleep a lot. I read, watch movies, read endless amounts of trash on the interwebs. This website doesn’t help. (A warning: don’t go there. You will lose hours. Days, even). I do lots of laundry, I cook dinner for my housemates and my friends. I become almost completely nocturnal: awake all night, sleeping during the day. The weather has been lovely and warm – and it’s light until 10pm so there are many long pleasant evenings spent sipping sangria on the balcony before retiring.

I am often asked ‘but don’t you get BORED?’. No, I don’t! That’s the whole point. I mean, maybe I will someday – but I have not yet reached that point in two solid weeks of loafing and I can’t see it happening anytime soon.

I venture out into the world at least once a day – and have discovered a whole community of people who are free to roam the streets during daylight hours. They’re friendly folks: on my walk back from the tube station last week I was chatted up twice – and only one of those was a charity worker trying to get me to sign up for a direct debit donation.

I have joined our local library. It’s just like I remember – that dry, dusty smell, the brightly coloured posters on the wall advertising community initiatives, kids chattering and elderly folk moving slowly along the aisles. I love it. I take my library bag, fill it up, head home and dive in. I feel greedy, taking too many books – and so each time so far I’ve put some back in case other people might want them. I can always go back, I’ve got time.

Apparently I am craving stimulation on some level: the other night, I decided I wanted to go out onto our balcony during a patch of heavy rain. Instead of going to fetch my umbrella, I fashioned a poncho out of a rubbish bag and used a salad bowl for protective headgear. Sadly, there is no photographic evidence of this endeavour. However, it worked a treat and provided at least ten minutes’ worth of entertainment for my fellow Pickles. And me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Overheard in London


Standing at a bus stop on Oxford Street one evening, waiting for the elusive number 55 (sighted rarely, but always worth the effort – it goes directly to the front door of the Pickle). A young fashionista Top Shop employee was chatting idly with a fellow Top Shop employee, on their way home from work:

Top Shop Girl #1: “I love the internet. I can break up with people just by changing my MySpace profile to ‘single’.

Top Shop Girl #2: “Totally”.


Walking from our building to Hoxton Square one Saturday afternoon, I noted a roped-off area to the side of the park where a film crew was busy doing film crew-y things around an appallingly large and shiny stretch-4WD-type vehicle. The people sitting sunning themselves in the square were doing their best to be nonchalant, sneaking glimpses out of the corner of their eye but doing their best to make it look like they hadn’t even noticed there was anything going on.

As I walked towards the gate of the square, I saw a parking ticket inspector stop beside a car. There was a burly paparazzo leaning out behind the front door, trying to snap some pictures of the action.

Parking Ticket Inspector Guy: “Wot’s going on ‘ere then?”

Burly Paparazzo: “Listen, mate, do I bother you when you’re working?”

PTIG: “You’re going to have to move along. You can’t stop here.”

BP: “Bugger off. I’m just taking a few photos. I’M VERY IMPORTANT.”



Sitting around at Dr Evil’s lair one Sunday afternoon, recovering from a very, VERY large party the evening before. A guy named Mike, friend of our new friend Senor, arrived to join us. He was looking very much the worse for wear: droopy-eyed, ashy-skinned, and with a large and sturdy-looking bandage on his right wrist.

Senor: Mike! Great to see you, mate. You don’t look so good.

Mike: I don’t feel so good.

Senor: What happened to your arm?

Mike: I took some Viagra on Friday.



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Time On My Hands

HI! Hello. So. I’m here, I’m alive. I am tempted to say ‘I’M BACK’, but have learned not to be too cocky about such things. I hope you are all well.

Stuff has been afoot in the world of jLo. I have much to tell! Although actually, I suspect it won’t take too long to explain.

The thing is, I lost my job.

It was great: my manager said, ‘oh, hey, jLo! How’s it going? Would you mind coming here into this office for a wee chat? Oh, and since it’s, like, an official HR chat and all, would you like to have someone come in with you? For, like, support?”

(My manager doesn’t actually speak like that. I’m not sure why it seems apt, but I’m going to go with it for now).

I declined the kind offer of moral support, and marched into the office to receive my marching orders. TERMINATED. Oh, the joy.

Now, it may be tempting to jump to one of several conclusions :

1. Oh no! jLo finally got sprung for her unhealthy Post-It stealing obsession!

2. Oh no! Someone finally worked out that jLo was calling phone sex hotlines via her desk phone on her lunchbreaks!

3. Oh no! jLo went postal on one of her stupid over-entitled clients one too many times!

Alas, the reason for my termination was nothing quite so interesting as the above. I had to stop working, because I was about to become ILLEGAL.

You see, I am a working holidaymaker here in the UK. Gone are those halcyon days enjoyed by many of you wherein the ‘two year visa/one year work’ restriction was blithely ignored by all and sundry. These days, the Home Office is apparently very serious about my being here for a holiday first, and paying my rent second. I can understand their confusion – I mean, English people are always bemused when I declare my intention to live in this city for an indefinite period – but the restriction is tres inconvenient nonetheless.

It says in my passport that my permission to work is ‘restricted to twelve months’. Among my fellow working holidaymakers, many hours of analysis and debate have been devoted to the meaning of these words. Is it 52 weeks? 365 days? What if I only work one day per week? What if I’m a contractor, and could conceivably work weekends as well? And so on.

I had devised what I thought was an eminently reasonable calculation. There were some weeks there last year where I worked only a few hours, so I aggregated them together and counted my full weeks of work. I thought, therefore, that I had a few weeks left to go and everything would be fine. Alas, ‘twas not to be.

You know how there are people out there who manage to engage in feats of daring and rule-bending and get away with it entirely? I am not one of these people. I always get caught. For six months, I’ve been hearing stories of how people ignore the work restrictions on their visas in an innocent and carefree manner, and no-one ever finds out. It’s not a big deal at all, they say. The Home Office doesn’t mind if you’re a few weeks over! Stop worrying so much!

Turns out my worry was well–founded. My employers realised this week that they had not asked any of their not-insignificant number of Antipodean staff members to confirm their visa status. Upon investigation, it was determined that what I thought was a perfectly reasonable method for calculating the number of weeks I have worked was not so reasonable after all. My time was done. So sorry, they said. We love you, but you must be sacked. The unit manager offered to escort me from the building if that would make it feel more dramatic. I thanked him, but declined.

They have very kindly offered to hold my job open for me while I attempt to change my visa status. While the job is not ideal and I’m not pining with angst to have left it, I do have a very strong interest in paying my rent in future so I’m grateful that the option is there.

So, I am unemployed. I have no income and minimal savings! I am not sure whether I can stay in this country! What fun.

The most frustrating part is that it should never have come to this. I had everything carefully worked out – and if the world would just bend to my will and do as I expect, these annoying situations need never arise. My application for my new, improved working visa has been ready since the beginning of May. I had to wait for ONE LOUSY DOCUMENT for the better part of seven weeks. It was the equivalent of a group certificate from one of my temp agencies – and they stubbornly refused to send it to me in anything other than their own sweet time. I employed the squeaky wheel approach, making a nagging phone call every day to see if I could annoy them into giving me what I wanted – but their will was strong. The piece of paper arrived the weekend before my sacking, and so I got the visa application in the same day I had to leave my job. Ahh, symmetry, how I love thee.

So, now, I’m waiting. The official timeframe for the visa application is four to six weeks. Everyone I know who has had one in this year, however, has had it back within three weeks. Basically, I’m sitting on my arse until the end of June, hoping against hope that this all works out.

On the plus side, my brother,Captain Kloss, has been visiting for the last ten days, so I have had ample time to hang out with him and show him the sights. He left last night, so now I can do some sleeping, some emailing, and maybe write here a bit more frequently. I am, officially, a lady of leisure. Let’s do lunch.