The Social Media

As I’m updating this blog a bit more frequently than before, and I’m getting a couple of more views and follows than in a long time, I thought I would spread the word about my Social Media presence.

These are in no particular order:

Instagram – I post pictures about my running, what I’m reading, the films I’m watching and other stuff!

Strava – I use Strava to log my runs, I also use…

Smashrun – Does the same job as Strava but puts the data into nice graphs and such like.

Last.FM – I’ve been Scrobbling, as it used to be called, the music I listen to since 2003. I primarily listen to digital music via Spotify these days. Back when it started I was an iTunes user.

Snapchat – Not a link but if you are a SC user as the Kids call it, find me by searching for – gary_bartram – I use it but don’t expect anything Earth shattering on my story etc

Twitter – I used to be a prolific Twitterer when I was annoying various people within the online film community but I stopped all that when I met Sarah. I occasionally go on a rant but it’s rare these days! Stop by and say hi!

Letterboxd – This is where I log my film watching and see what the remaining members of the film community I like are watching.

So that’s me on Social Media!

I’ve started so I’ll finish…

I didn’t quite finish my Cornwall trip write ups, so now I’m back from a trip to France, I think I should get it done before I head off to the States!

So coming up…

Land’s End
A trip to the theatre
St Ives
A seagull attack
Penzance and a gloomy looking St Michaels Mount
Driving tired

Once that’s done I’ll add a little bit about France.

Who did you speak to today?

My Mum could talk to anyone. I’m not saying she would have great debates about the state of the nation but Mum could strike up a conversation just passing the time of day.

When I was out shopping with her, this would occasionally annoy me. Many times I complained to Mum about telling her life story or even worse, mine, to a casual acquaintance or a stranger in a queue.

Mum was happy to share snippets about those she was proud of; her kids and grand-kids, especially her grand-kids.

My art of conversation is limited, I’m not a great talker. However I’ve found in the past few weeks that I too will talk to anyone. This may stem from the fact that I’m not working and full blown conversations with people are now a rare occurrence.

During my camping trip I spoke to many of my fellow campers on a wide range of camping related subjects; roads, windy roads, how to drive a caravan down windy roads, cows and how fast they can run, the weather! and the merits of various campsites.

I struck up conversations with the ladies manning the desks at:

  • the Boscastle Witchcraft Museum – who told me about the day the flood hit
  • the Marazion Museum – who I asked about the pronunciation of the towns name
  • the shop of St Michaels Mount – who told me about the ‘best cream tea in Cornwall’

None of these are Earth shattering conversations, but I normally don’t talk and definitely don’t ask questions.

Just this week I had a long and interesting conversation which went on for about 40 minutes with a farmer at the Royal Welsh Show. I had been looking around the sheep shed and walked out to see what was happening in the sheep ring. A round of judging was just starting and having no idea what they were looking for, I asked the farmer that question.

He explained about the judging, the varieties of sheep, and eventually gave me his life story. Which was very colourful; including Army service in South Africa, and a stint in the Rhodesian Police. He asked what I did, and I explained that I was currently in between careers, and was looking at a new direction possibly in Youth Work. I’m usually a bit hesitant to say that; I still worry that people will think I’m a kiddy-fiddler! He was all for it, and had some good views on how to treat young people.

As he was an older man, I expected him to say ‘bloody kids’ but no, he was sympathetic to the youngsters of 2012, “they need to be challenged”, he was a church going man as he made several references to the Bible; including “the Devil makes work for idle hands”. I was impressed with him and glad I spoke to him.

Just yesterday at the Olympic football in Cardiff, I chatted briefly with two fans from Algeria. My seat happened to be quite close to the tunnel where the players enter the stadium, so I stood there a while with lots of other fans all waiting for the players to come though. The teams playing were Brazil & Egypt; the players from Brazil are all mostly familiar to me, those from Egypt much less so. So when these particular fans got a little excited by who was coming past we had a chat, in very slow broken English as to who was coming passed.

As I said nothing ground breaking here, and I’m sure some of you reading this will be wondering what on earth I’m on about. But if like me, you don’t talk to random strangers when your paths cross, perhaps you should make a change.

The Job Centre

This morning I had an interview at the Job Centre. I made the appointment on the advice of former colleagues, who said I should go along so that I get my Stamp or National Insurance contributions paid.

As I’m not currently looking for a job, I’d rather travel a bit and do other things for a while, I didn’t think I would be eligible for any payments.

So this morning I turned up 10 minutes early for my 1030 appointment, which commenced at 1040, and was done at 1045. As I thought, because I’m not looking for a job I’m not eligible for a slice of the £70-ish a week Job Seekers Allowance, and therefore will miss out on National Insurance contributions until I’m either looking for or have a job, which I can live with.

I think I made a claim way back when I was 18 or 19 but this is the first time I’ve been back into a Job centre for myself, since then. Without trying to sound like a snob or high and mighty, I wouldn’t employ some of those that came in to ‘sign on’ whilst I was there.

Some were scruffy & unkempt and in one case, in need of a good wash! One other proudly exclaimed to all those who would listen that “I’m on time this week”, well done that person, bravo to you.

Two young lads discussed joining the Army, one had tried and failed; he had thought about trying again but would have to “do basic again” and as he’d done it once, he couldn’t see why he had to do it again, “there should be a week for failures to try again” !!!

I won’t be going back for a little while, but if I do join the massed ranks of the unemployed and claim Job Seekers Allowance, I do hope I keep what standards I have and don’t slip.

Reading that back it does sound a bit snobbish, but a lot of the people that came in we’re well under 25, and I wonder how they’ll ever find gainful employment, with their daily appearance, attitudes and shoddy timekeeping.

Onto The Next Chapter

A few days ago I had my farewell lunch from my current work place. My job was cut in December 2011, but being a Civil Servant meant I was placed into a pool of people, who like me, also had their jobs cut.

The UK Government is currently reducing the numbers of Civil Servants and one way they are doing that is to offer people cash to leave on voluntary terms. I applied and was accepted, my last day is next Friday.

Usually when people leave, there is a lunch and the big boss will get up and say a few words; thanking them for their service, you’ll be missed etc, and then the leaver gets up and say a few words; usually something like “thanks for coming, I’m going to miss you all” etc. Me, being me, i.e. too modest, didn’t actually expect the big boss to attend!

So I wrote a speech that contained a potted history of my 15 years service. Of course, the big boss did turn up and he gave a most excellent and glowing account of my career, and how I would be missed (something that I now just about realise, as I said, modest).

The speech is below – although I have redacted some of it, place names etc.

I would like to thank you all for coming to lunch today, and a big thank you to Emma for organising everything. This day has arrived sooner than I expected, I thought I would be at (the place I worked) for some years to come.

But things change, and over the past eight months, they have for me, both at home and in the workplace. When I went into the RDP I wasn’t sure what to do: I could look for another job, sit it out or go for VERS and we are here today because I was lucky enough to be selected for the latter. So after 15 years, 9 months and 20 days, it’s time for a change of direction, I just have to settle on what that change will be.

As you’ve heard I started my career in the Post Room at (the other place I worked), then moving to Seniors, before settling in Budgets. And for those paying attention, no I didn’t forget the MT, as hard as I’ve tried, I can’t forget the MT.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the 15 years I’ve spent at (the place I worked), right from my first day in Seniors where I didn’t even have a chair and Babs tried to get me to answer a ringing fax machine, during my time in Seniors I was lucky to be able to spend a day on (the ground) watching a training day, take part on the (long walk over a mountain), and a skiing trip to Bavaria led by Ken, I even got to speak to Paula Hamilton, she of the late 80’s Volkswagen Golf advert when she rang for Ken, for a whole 10 minutes I had her mobile number!

In the MT, in between trying to make trucks and trailers magically appear to satisfy a never ending demand, I drove a car around the bypass, under supervision I should add, before narrowly avoiding the MT garages on my return, it would be roughly 11 years before I got back behind the wheel and finally passed my test, unfortunately at that time I also learnt what a bad manager was, in Budgets I learnt what a good manager was, and about the importance of integrity, and how that can make an office unpopular, people don’t like to be told that they can’t do something, even when it’s in their best interest, I was very fortunate to work with Sue & Nick for so long, they both taught me a huge amount, and I owe them a lot,

At (the place I worked) I’ve made some good friends, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented people

I’ve scored some quite fantastic goals whilst playing lunchtime football in the gym, I’ve also had access to the very same gym for 15 years and still didn’t get fit

In the past six months I’ve gone full circle and have been back in a Post Room, where I found out that Welsh isn’t a dead language, and anyone saying so, in earshot of Rhian, had better be able to back up their claim, and I speak from personal experience

I’ve learnt that (some) students enjoy online shopping (a quick post fact: in the first week of February there were 38 parcels for them), and I also found out just how much Budgets + HR knowledge did actually stick

During my time at (the place I worked)I have been to many lunches, Christmas do’s and Budget Office code reds, for those not in the know, a code red is a lunch, much like this one, that extends, for those willing, into the evening; and on a couple of occasions I didn’t make it into work the next day; so I’ve already booked tomorrow off just in case!

And through all those functions it’s been a standing joke that I’ve never bought a drink, I was born in Yorkshire after all, where part of our motto is (Eat all, drink all, pay nowt).  But I’m hoping that on your way in you helped your self to a glass of wine or orange juice as those are on me, cheers everyone!

Who Am I?

Okay that’s the difficult opening post over with, onto the equally difficult second post!

How about some information about me:

I’m Male, thirty something, English and I’ve lived in Wales for over 20 years.

I like most sports; favourite being football.

I like pretty much every genre of Cinema, although I’m not keen on horror

I like pretty much every genre of Music, although I’m not keen on Jazz & Opera.

I’m not a big reader, if I do its nothing too heavy; maybe some Grisham or Crichton.  Sci-Fi books if anything and more often than not the subject will be time travel.  ‘Time and Again’ by Jack Finney is a favourite of mine, and I’ve just bought the new Stephen King book ’11.22.63’, which combines the JFK assassination and time travel.

I don’t have a clear posting regime in mind, I think I’ll be posting when something peaks my interest, or perhaps I’ll just flood it with inane drivel, we shall wait and see.

I know there’s a bucket list in my future (in fact I’ve already started it) so that will get posted.

Another day, another Blog

I think this is the third blog that I’ve started; the others have been consigned to the giant recycle bin at the centre of the internet.

There is a saying that everyone has a book in them; I remember starting a book in high school, I was going through a phase where I devoured anything and everything about the Vietnam War and I was writing about a chap named Jed who was a tunnel rat in the US Army.  I had written some pretty gory stories in English lessons that got the attention of my teacher, who in turn got the attention of my parents; I think he was concerned I was a bit loopy.

I may try to write a book one day, self-publication is easy these days, but for starters let’s change that saying – Everyone has a blog in them, and this is mine.