Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day Tripper

* Picture: Me circa 1970 Porthcawl [I was about 9 or 10]

"Day Tripper"

I've been thinking about summer/bank holiday outings as a child to places like Barry Island and Porthcawl in South Wales. There were often outings run by the local Sunday School or places like The Merthyr Labour Club. Your mother would save up for months for the outing, paying a little every week, usually a couple of shillings.

There was usually a fleet of coaches put on for such an occasion. It seemed a big adventure at the time, yet those seaside towns weren't that far away, you'd swear we were all off to Florida or something the fuss that was made. Often you'd hardly sleep the night before, from the excitement of it all!

Usually you'd take some sort of picnic along with you, maybe cheese and tomato sandwiches, crisps and fruit, possibly a bottle of Corona pop [which was warm by the time you got there!]. The grown ups would buy a pot of tea from a nearby stall/cafe to drink on the sands or maybe bring a flask. There was something about eating your food outside, we didn't do it that often but for some reason when going to the seaside it was positively mandatory!

The first thing you'd want to do as a kid was run towards the sea, no matter how far the tide was out and dip your toes in it. Also quite difficult later on, when you changed under a towel into your bathing costume and actually went in the sea, was to find your family in amongst a sea of faces! I think I got lost several times when the beach was packed!

There was always a visit to the fun fair. The Big Dipper [which I seem to remember had a sign on it in Barry Island saying something like, "If all the components of this Big Dipper were laid end to end, they would stretch all the way to New York!"] I also loved the Caterpillar, which was a sort of wagon on rails which started going, got faster and faster as the green hood slowly covered everyone, making it look like its name to spectators. People seemed to scream underneath that cover or maybe that was just me!

The Water Chute in Porthcawl was another I used to enjoy, day trippers stood at the bottom and got splashed.

At the promenade in Barry Island I remember there was a "What the Butler Saw" machine. I used to get a penny and queue up to watch it as black and white photographs flipped as slow or as fast as you liked as you turned the handle. I seem to remember something about a maid but nothing ever really happened, she didn't even get laid. I think the butler kept his beady eye on her though!

There were Donkey rides on the sands and sometimes competitions to dig to find lucky treasure. I remember my brother winning tickets for the fairground at Porthcawl and he chose to go on a real dangerous looking ride. It was like two rocket capsules either end of a connecting pole that spun upside down. I think he was only nine, don't know how he was allowed on that!

Then there was the Hall of Mirrors, where you could see yourself thin or fat, distorted and blob like. There was also a maze made of glass that used to really frustrate me when I tried to get out as I'd often bump into the clear glass.

I also loved the Ghost Train and would scream as a cobweb hit me in the face as the train careered through the darkness, often some sort of ghoul would pop up or scare the hell out of you or there'd be a earth shattering screech from the bowels of the abyss. It's a wonder we didn't need a change of underwear after going in there.

Walking around the fairground there were certain things that were mandatory like a large stick of candy floss that would begin to melt in your mouth but stick on your teeth! Or a stripy stick of seaside rock with a photograph of that particular resort stuck inside the wrapper, equally bad for your teeth!

There was also nothing like eating fish and chips at the seaside that were wrapped in newspaper. Even to this day, I still think they taste best eaten outside either on a bench over looking the sea or on the beach itself, if you can avoid any sand getting into the wrapper that is.

By the time we'd go back to the fleet of buses, we'd be worn out and sleepy with sand between our toes and usually some sort of mementos: shells we'd collected, buckets and spades, those little cute badges with our names on, rock or candy floss.

The buses would be lined up and you'd have to search for ages to find which one you'd arrived on. They'd take an age to pull away as usually there were so many from all over the country and beyond. Then darkness would begin to descend as shapes became silhouettes against the night sky as we approached home.

Back then the sun always seemed to shine and we seemed quite content with what we had. Or was that just me?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bullying and Harassment in the Work Place

I’ve worked for a couple of organisations where I’ve witnessed some degree of bullying and harassment in the workplace, but it was so insidious and devious that it would have been hard to bring a case against the people concerned as they covered their backs and spun a web of lies.

One organisation had quite a high turnover of staff as if anyone dared to voice an opinion or say things were wrong, then some way was found to oust them.  One lovely lady, who I shall call Jane, worked there in an administrative role.  She was really good at her job but because she wanted to change her hours, the manager and her side kick wore her down, piling on the work and highlighting any mistakes she might have made.  The woman was a professional who knew her job well, but the knives were out.

She was told when she was eventually forced to resign, not to tell any of the other staff.  The manager and her sidekick didn’t speak to her for days.  I knew she was leaving, so I bought her a present.  We were all informed by memo the following Monday that she’d left, and even afterwards, I was interrogated by the manager’s sidekick, who many nick named, ‘The Rottweiler’, if I had known Jane was leaving.

Of course, I feigned innocence.

Guess who got her job?  A close relative of the manager!

Over a series of months I saw many come and go, dismissed for trivial reasons, until eventually, I was forced into a corner to resign myself, even though I was good at my job and popular and had done a tremendous amount for this organisation and the manager herself.  I won’t say what I did, but it was above and beyond the call of duty.

So, I resigned and glad I got the hell out of there, currently this manager now has other family members working with her.  How the heck that’s allowed, I’ll never know.

Nepotism of the highest order.... 

At the moment, this person concerned, seems untouchable.  If anyone complains she gets shot of them, and/or someone to back her up.

Surely one day this 'house of cards' will topple over?

Another organisation I worked for also had a high turnover of staff.  My line manager couldn’t do her job properly, so piled all the work on to me and was forever nit picking.  I almost left there and then, but she talked me into staying after I swore at her in front of a packed office.
The truth was, she was ringing me about petty things on my days off and even texting me at midnight, sometimes with things she wanted done the following day if she was off work.  At this place we were made to do courses in our spare time and I’d even been rostered into working in two places at the same time!  I know I’m a hard worker and some say quite clever, but not that bleeding clever!

Another thing about that place, although we worked six hour days, we weren't allowed a break.  We were informed that if you work six hours, you aren't entitled to a break.  We had to eat and drink while we were at work and at times it could be stressful with the type of job it was.  

It all came to a head for me one day when I had to stay and help someone who had a crisis after work had finished and I was on my way home.  I looked after the person concerned, took them for a coffee to calm them down and made sure they had taxi fare to get home as they were in distress.  I could have walked on by as it was out of work hours, but I didn't.  The manager promised me an hour off in lieu of this, but when I asked the next day [towards the end of my shift and my work was up to speed], she became petty saying I couldn’t possibly take the hour there and then.  This and something else combined, where I wasn’t even allowed recognition for something I had written for this organisation, made me see red.  I resigned there and then and never went back.

I’ve never regretted it.

I've heard since then more than eleven members of staff have left, probably even more since.
You’ll know there’s bullying in the work place if:

*  There’s a high turnover of staff
*  You’re often singled out and reprimanded in front of other members of staff
*  You’re belitted
*  You’re overloaded with work
*  Your manager/or some other person working there keeps bothering you on your days off
*  The night before work and the following day you feel anxious before work
*  You feel stressed out most of the time
*  Your work often gets criticized, particularly in front of other members of staff
*  Your manager/boss tends to keep staff in the dark about what is going on
*  You feel you have no voice or say in anything
*  You aren’t allowed adequate breaks and/or leave
*  You are verbally and/or physically abused
*  You are made to work overtime with no extra pay or inducement
*  If you face up to your bullying co-worker/manager you are accused of harassment
*  Your achievements go unrecognised by the organisation/your boss
*  You feel devalued and unappreciated as a member of staff
*  You constantly get overlooked for promotion even though it’s well known that you are the best 
person for the job

To be continued....

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I am, I Said...

L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is 'lay back'
Palm trees grow, and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin' about
Making my way back

Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays, I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home
New York's home, but it ain't mine no more

"I am," I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am," I cried
"I am," said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein' a king
And then became one
Well except for the names and a few other changes
I you talk about me, the story's the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I've tried, but it won't let me go
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared for the sound of being alone

"I am," I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am," I cried
"I am," said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still