I guess I owe everyone an explanation of some sort, don’t I?
As you remember, I came back to the UK in September and started a new job on a Monday. On the Wednesday I was called into an office by my new boss and found the head of HR waiting for me. What the hell have I done now, I thought. It’s too early for me to have upset anyone; maybe they’ve found the blog? So when they told me they’d had a reorganisation and were making me redundant, I was actually quite relieved. In fact, the situation was so preposterous I laughed. Rather grateful I’d not made any serious commitments such as selling a house, quitting a job, or moving a family to join them (I’d basically loaded up my car with a few suitcases and drove from Annecy to Cambridge), I asked them whether I should come in tomorrow or go back to France. They told me my redundancy period was 3 months, and so I said I might as well make myself useful during that time. After a year off for my MBA, any work was better than none. As it turned out there was plenty to do, and I was well placed to do it. So for the next ten weeks or so I kept myself busy doing project management and writing procedures, to the point they were good enough to offer me a permanent position in the new organisation chart. So here I am: not doing the job I came to do, but another well within my capabilities on the same terms and conditions.
I rather like it here. The average employee in my previous company, were he to meet an ancient carpet weaver in Tashkent, would immediately tell him how to do his job properly. My previous boss used to talk to me as if I’d just floated down the river on a raft full of cow shit. This wouldn’t have been so bad if what he knew about the oil industry couldn’t be written in the margins of a Paris metro ticket. Here I am actually consulted on stuff and, generally, people listen if not agree. Also, the work I am doing has some purpose. By contrast, I spent much of my time between 2014-18 entering obviously incorrect data into spreadsheets and then deleting the spreadsheets. I am also rather busy as, this not being the oil industry, things move a little faster than a glacier. I once thought oil companies spent so long making decisions that the reservoir grew a little thanks to the continuous exertion of geological forces on the dead dinosaurs. In my last company I started to think that was an actual strategy.
Readers may recall my original intention had been to live near King’s Cross and then commute to Cambridge. Then I’d decided that was too expensive and lived in Cambridge in the company-provided serviced apartment. Well, Cambridge sucked. I found it cold, wet, and uninteresting, possibly because I was on my own. I had to drive 14 miles each way to get to work which took 40 minutes going and between an hour and an hour and a half on the way home. The problem was insane traffic and forests of traffic lights spaced 20m apart which weren’t synchronised. Whoever designed the traffic system in and around Cambridge was obviously paid by the Fresnel lens, and he needs dragging into the Cam and drowning. By the end of a sixth week of sitting in a line watching a trail of twin red lights stretch into the distance in front of me, I’d had enough.
While all this was going on I was enjoying the occasional company and a lot of telephone conversations with someone I’d met in London when I’d come over for my interview. She’d felt a little guilty that she had to go to Hong Kong on business for three weeks a few days after we’d met. However, I’d had to first confess I was living in Annecy and not London, then I was going to live in Cambridge and not Kings Cross, and finally that my new company was giving me the boot before I’d even seen a dress-down Friday. I was partway through my sorry tale when she boarded a plane for Hong Kong again, from which she returned almost a month later and we both decided we’d spent quite enough time apart. This, coupled with my unhappiness with Cambridge and the commute, drove me to move to London. So here I am, living near Wapping.
This is made possible by one of the major changes in the British workplace which has taken place since I left: flexible working. When I joined my new company I discovered I didn’t have a desk. Everyone just comes in, finds an empty desk, and plugs their laptop into a docking station. Nobody has a phone any more, and instead all calls are routed to Skype installed on your laptop. You can phone into any meeting, meaning you don’t need to be there in person. All this means you can work from pretty much anywhere, and don’t need to be 9-5 in the office every day like we did back in 2003. So I can catch the Brighton to Cambridge train each morning by walking 15 mins to London Bridge, wait for it to empty at Farringdon and St Pancras, then sit down in a deserted carriage, connect to the wifi, and do about an hour’s admin and emails until I arrive. It’s a bit expensive, but much easier and a hell of a lot less stressful than that damned drive I used to do (I ditched the car back in Annecy a few weeks ago).
In short, I am busy at work and I’ve met someone rather nice who I’m spending a lot of time with. This leaves me with little time for blogging, but it goes a bit deeper than that. Firstly, my new companion is not a former mail-order bride from Russia with a collection of children and divorces, nor a nutjob with nose piercings and a penchant for polyamory. Sadly for my blog and my readers, but happily for my mental health, she is a native English speaker (of a sort) and about as sane as you can expect from someone living in London. Secondly, if I’m being honest, I’ve lost the fire in my belly to churn out 2-4 posts per day. It’s getting harder and harder to write something without repeating what I’ve already said. When I first started writing about polyamory it was a new and interesting topic for me, and learning about the lunatics who practice it was as amusing as it was informative as to just who walk among us. But there’s a new article every second week and I’ve nothing original to say. The same is true for carrier bags, Brexit, Trump, and most other subjects I weigh in on: nothing changes, the stories stay the same, and my blog gets dull and repetitive. At least, the writing part feels that way.
So I’m not going to be posting anywhere near as much as I was. I live a different life now, probably a more boring life, but one that I hope will make me a bit happier. I don’t know where blogging will fit into it, but it won’t be like before. I will definitely keep it online and write posts from time to time, because I still love writing and have things to say. If ever I get time in future there’s a good chance I’ll ramp it back up again, provided I have something new and interesting to write about. And I still want to finish my second book, the first having been such a roaring success. Ahem. This one is a murder mystery set on Sakhalin Island, loosely based on my experiences, and a very different story from the first but written in similar style. I have no idea when I’ll be able to continue with it, let alone finish it.
So please check back here every now and again, because I wouldn’t like to lose all of you. You’ve been a wonderful, brilliant, tremendous set of readers who have helped, encouraged, criticised, and kept me on the straight and narrow without ever letting up, and I love you all for it. I am always up for a drink, which should be easy to arrange now I live in London. You can find my email address here, so drop me a line if you’re bored. As I said, the blog isn’t dead, nor is it on hiatus. It’s just kinda plodding for a while. I’ll see you in the near future.