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JOB INTERVIEW
24/02/2000

I don't think it was unreasonable for me to be at least a little bit nervous. Ok I accept that it isn't a highly paid, high stress managerial job, with a huge amount of responsibility. In fact quite the opposite really but it was a job interview. A real one. Not just some safe attempt to get a promotion or a level transfer like I may have done in the past but a real one, sort of from scratch. Like I haven't got a job at the moment and if I was successful at this interview I would then have one, with all the unknown changes to my current way of life that would inevitably entail not least of which being able to afford to buy proper Heinz baked beans. Don't get me wrong, I've been very grateful for the un-named economy type that are practically given away in the supermarkets for nine pence a tin. But lets face it, there is only so much tomato sauce you can force into a can before the resulting absence of the beans really makes it a tin of soup. Soup on toast is a lot flatter than beans on toast and my plates just don't seem big enough to cope! Funny thing is a tin of tomato soup is more expensive so you'd think they'd try and sneak baked beans into the soup tins. Actually maybe they have and I've just got confused and been buying the wrong tins!
A couple of weeks before, I had called the First Bus Group information Hotline (
http://www.firstbadgerline.co.uk / http://www.firstcityline.co.uk) and had been delighted at how helpful the woman had been when I openly explained that I was going to a job interview and needed to get all the way to Ensleigh in Bath. She gave me all the intricate timetable details and even recommended what sort of ticket would be the cheapest way for me to get there and back. This was the final bit of the transport jigsaw. The first bit had been where the hell was the place! It didn't seem to be in my A to Z street guide and no one I asked seemed to know. Eventually a colleague where I used to work found a map with it on and kindly managed to put together three different photocopies so I knew where it was. Unfortunately the buses from Kingswood were only hourly and I only had two choices. Either leave at six forty eight and be ridiculously early or at seven thirty eight and if there was any delay run the risk of maybe being late. I never have been and never could be late for anything like this so there really was nothing for it but to get up literally at the crack of dawn and get the earlier one just to be safe. So that was all sorted and I knew where I stood.
I'd been putting off for weeks attending to the mass of paper work that came with the invitation to interview but with tomorrow being the big day I really had to face up to it and belatedly get it done. I suppose many people go through this sort of thing quite often and by virtue of 'practice makes perfect' think nothing of it.
I however, having been in the same big company for so long have I suppose, lived in a strangely protected environment. To me the whole process is a minefield, or perhaps a better analogy would be a chess game or maybe a life size chess game in a minefield!
I used to play chess but eventually I had to stop. It became apparent to me that there were only a finite number of moves that could actually happen in a game and that if you could think of them all, whoever your opponent, you would know at any given point what move to make. Trouble was I wasn't clever enough to be able to think through all the possibilities and whoever I was playing would get tired and annoyed of waiting for me to try, or at least that is what I would think. I would feel as though hours were ticking by as I would lose my way in the maze of possible responses and inevitably in despair I would make a move at random. Application forms to me are just the same. One wrong word here, a slip of the pen there, too much of the unexplained truth here, a spelling mistake there and I would lose the game. For this reason I can spend hours and hours re-writing the simplest of answers in a futile attempt to get it absolutely perfect so that some unseen 'opponent' cannot make an unseen move against me .
There were about fifteen pages in all, split into three different sections. The easiest to deal with was the 'Character Enquiry'. This was obviously of lesser importance than the others since it was a single sheet and had been photocopied. Well just! The left hand side of the form hadn't quite made it. It was a normal type of form asking you to declare if you were bankrupt or had convictions, that type of thing. Having been brought up pretty much right and having succeeded in avoiding being caught doing too many 'naughty' things in my rebellious adolescent period I am proud to say that I have pretty much a clean record. Aaaahh...except for the odd driving conviction when I fell asleep on my motorbike and an equally ridiculous conviction for having illegally used a radio transmitter! Taken out of context it makes me sound as though I may have been some sort of subversive terrorist but the truth is very much tamer, ten four good buddy! I do know though, that the courts presumably have a very large computer with gigabytes of memory since any checks that are done into my background always reveal this conviction. So here I am immediately faced with a dilemma on the simplest of the forms. Should I reveal my dark past, perhaps jeopardising my job prospects or should I not mention it perhaps jeopardising my job prospects! Aha . . .saved by the small print. "You need not give details of any conviction spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974." So all I need is a copy of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and I'll be able to correctly fill in the form to my best advantage. This sounded like a job for dad.
After a lifetime of having to watch the pennies, of scrimping and saving and seldom buying anything other than necessities for themselves so the kids were best provided for, in the relative financial comfort of their retirement a strange addiction has taken hold of my parents. Car boot sales. As far as I can tell particularly in the summer months this hobby has taken over their lives and they tour the known weekly sales looking for whatever they can find that is a ridiculously cheap bargain. I'm not complaining. I've done very well out of it. I have bulging wardrobes of the finest quality shirts and sweaters and as-new kitchen appliances and all sorts of things none of which seem to ever cost them more than fifty pence! How the sellers cover the petrol it must take to get to the sales is beyond me at such prices. One of their specialties seems to be, being able to find people who are selling off as-new, expensive Readers Digest reference books for a laughable fraction of their original cost price. The result of one particularly successful hunter-gatherer expedition, they once presented me with an as-new copy of 'Know Your Rights', which they had picked up for a pittance, but a copy of which they already had.
I'd looked in the book but couldn't find any mention of the act so rang Dad and asked him to have a look at any others he might have that could help. Within minutes he was back on the phone quoting the page number I should have been looking at, so returning to the book and following his directions, I was soon reading the appropriate sections.
With some pleasure and a flourish of my black ballpoint I ticked the column of NO boxes.
It came as no surprise when I made a mess of my signature. When it 'matters' I always seem to suddenly get involuntary spasms of my arm muscles as though my arm is fighting against my giving the best impression of myself. Signing a credit card is always a particularly traumatic time for me with much the same unfamiliar, indelible, scrawling result. The manual equivalent of tripping over ones tongue and appearing a gibbering idiot I suppose. No doubt I would save that for the interview itself. One form down . . .
I tackled the Recruitment Health Declaration next. Straight away I was stumped because they were asking for my height and weight in meters and kilos. Metric? The trouble with my age group is that we were dragged through the school system at about the time when things were changing from imperial measurement to metric which meant the effect on me was that half of what I learnt was in one and half in the other. As a result my mind is often thrown into chaos when I have need to think of weights and measures and at such times it will cling to a mental picture of weight and length which I built in childhood which I have not been able to update and indeed have not been required to. For years I have been about six feet tall, a description that everybody seemed content with and able to understand. At school we used a ruler, which was a foot in length so I know what a foot is. The bigger stick kept in the corner behind the science room door was three feet in length and this was a yard which as luck would have it was about a meter. On a larger scale, as a child I was informed that Downend village was a mile from where we lived and they knew that because they had done it in the car using the milometer so there for evermore is my mental image of a mile. As corroboration, three miles was the distance from home to Downend to Cleeve Wood and back again which was what my mother had to walk every day when she had her varicose veins.
I never learned what a kilometer was so despite having driven there I haven't a clue how fast people drive abroad or what all those other numbers are for on a Japanese motorcycle speedo.
Similarly, although rather underweight for my height, for many years I was ten stone and only relatively recently have gained on that. As a child my mother had some old kitchen scales complete with a set of weights. The one-pound weight will forever be my anchor to weight. The childish joke promising to give someone fourteen pounds if they did something for you and once done making payment by giving them a stone from off the ground, enables me to clumsily remember how many of the kitchen weight would make a stone. As for metric weight I haven't a clue, I've never learned what a ton looks like and my dreams of one day owning my own piece of land are perhaps confounded by having no mental picture at all of what an acre is.
So to fill out the form I had to rush down to the bathroom scales, which luckily had both numbers on the dial. I discovered I was about seventy kilos or near enough so as to make it that nice round number. I used a pencil placed on my head as I stood against my bedroom doorframe to make a mark and then used my spirit level tape measure to discover I was about one point eight three meters tall. At this I was immediately thrown into confusion since it seemed to make a mockery of my longstanding mental image of six feet being about two meters. I eventually concluded that I really couldn't care less and since I wasn't banging my head on the door frames I'd put in, it would be ok if I always used a tape measure if I needed to measure something, so I moved to the next questions.
This wasn't easy. Let's face it anyone who has suffered from depression and received treatment for it, on paper at the very least despite modern day more understanding attitudes about such things, is going to look like a bit of a nut case! By the time I'd finished detailing the treatment I had received up to the point I was medically retired it really looked as though I was fit to be an extra in "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest". Things weren't helped by question two which read "Are you now or have you been in the past under any medical treatment or observation, taken any form of medication to control or stabilize a condition, undergone any operation or hospital treatment or had any 'serious' accident?" Well that would cover just about everything, ever! No simple ticks here.
Question seven asked, "Have you now or in the past had any drug or alcohol related problems?" Resisting the obvious temptation to answer yes I'd had trouble scoring some good gear and man I'd had a real bad trip or yes I'd ruined half of my shirts with boulder burns, my answer was no but this one genuinely worried me. In the past while innocently trying to explain to a doctor too busy to really listen that I was having some problems I mentioned that I had on one occasion managed to drink a great deal. My father being an ardent non-drinker has somehow instilled in me a rigorous self-control mechanism that means I will probably never develop a drinking problem. Indeed I am unable to drink any quantity of alcohol without becoming almost instantly ill and sleepy and this combined with the fact that I could never ever allow myself to be completely out of control meant that the single incident I mentioned to the doctor was worthy of note in the context of the explanation of my then distress. Somehow this reference found its way into my medical record as I 'abused alcohol.' So the reality that I got pretty tipsy once has been turned into a rather weighty and potentially damaging medical record of an individual who abused alcohol. This 'misunderstanding' became apparent when an insurance policy application was made some years ago.
The Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 states that I may withhold my consent for a prospective employer to seek medical information from my doctor. Realistically I doubt anyone would employ someone who did such a thing and therefore always feel obliged to give my consent in the full knowledge that my doctor may be inadvertently responsible for my failure to get employment. Not much I can do but hope.
Question eight asked, "Have you now or in the past had any muscle or joint problem or any work related upper limb disorder?" I was tempted to reply 'only when signing important documents, application forms or credit cards' but resisted.
Question nine asked "Have you now or in the past had any depression or stress related illness? (If yes give details, inc. dates and any medication (if any) prescribed." This question was then followed by a statement which read "NB: If any of the answers provided on this form change during any stage of the selection process, please notify us immediately." I wondered how rigorous the next days interview might be and had visions of suddenly calling a halt to the proceedings to give them immediate notification that as a result of their questioning I was getting very depressed and really quite stressed out about it all!
The Pension Health Declaration was more of the same with some equally strange areas such as one question that asked, "Have you ever had any stomach or bowel disorder (eg peptic ulcer, irritable bowel, colitis)? (If yes, please give details, including dates)." Even if one was to exclude the regular problems that some people have after ten pints of lager and a Vindaloo one has to wonder what depth of detail they would wish to be given!
The last question that was a tick yes or no was completely beyond my understanding. It said "Under the terms of the Access to Medical Records Act 1988, do you wish to see information about your health supplied to the Medical Adviser by your GP, or may this be forwarded directly to the Medical Advisor? Yes / No" I felt obliged to modify the question before giving an answer.
The security questionnaire, which ultimately had to be sealed in the brown envelope provided, was certainly the most complex and intrusive I have ever had to fill out. Not only was detailed information required about me, including on this one all spent convictions, but also detailed information about both of my parents. The fact that I don't have a partner made it slightly less complicated than it could have been, nevertheless I had to ring my parents again to confirm some of their details and to make use of my mother's amazing memory. After seemingly having spent the majority of the day filling out these few forms at last they were done.
The next thing that had to be considered was what would I wear. I really am no good at all at trying to look 'pretty' so I turned out my wardrobe and sorted through all my best black. Trousers, jackets, waistcoats, shirts, ties if they were black they all came out for examination. I settled on a sharp looking jacket of unknown French origin, undoubtedly come to me via some small green Devon field. Sorting through my work trouser collection I was amazed at the rubbish I had once worn to work. Certainly working there had brought me emotionally and psychologically to my knees but I hadn't realised that I must have spent so much of my time actually on my knees since almost every pair had awfully noticeable wear marks. They were useless for an interview. With some relief I found a brand new pair that I'd never bought hung on a hanger obviously donated at some time in the distant past by my parents who may have been hinting although I hadn't been minded to notice. A black Devon field shirt that had never suffered the rigors of my washing machine on a 'make it charcoal too hot' setting and a black tie and my outfit was settled. I thought I looked pretty sharp and was happy for once with following a recent TV celebrity trend, which was for wearing all black. I was ready to go.
I beat both the alarm clocks. Obviously sleeping more lightly than usual I suddenly became wide-awake at five o'clock. Having got up and made sure that both clocks were aware their services were no longer required, I showered and dressed as per my rehearsal and tamed my long uncut hair with handfuls of 'Ultra Hold Gel'. I don't eat early morning breakfast at the best of times and certainly had no appetite 'this' morning, but knew that it would be a long morning and since I had not eaten much the day before either, I forced down a number of chocolate biscuits in the hope they would boost my energy. Feeling nauseous I was stepping out of the house by six twenty five although I surprised myself at how calm I felt. Fumbling in the dark to lock the deadbolts on my front door I was amazed at the wonderful chorus of birdsong that filled the air and wondered that I could sleep through such a din on any other day.
Feeling a little self conscious clearly looking rather strange wearing my 'best' clothes under my old green waxed waterproof coat, wearing my fingerless gloves and army type wooly hat and carrying a smart briefcase, I took the brisk twenty minute walk up the road to the bus stop.
After a short wait and right on time, the bus appeared at exactly six forty eight. I explained where I was aiming to go and to my embarrassment also blurted out why. After a brief period of thought the bus driver agreed that the cheapest way to do it would be to buy an adult day explorer as I had been advised and it would cost me five pounds and thirty pence. Obviously taking pity on me he became most helpful and told me to remind him when we got to Bath and he would show me where to get my next bus. Forgetting that I was going to the bus's final stop I habitually sat on the lower deck as near to the exit door as I could. It soon became clear to me that this was a wasted opportunity although once settled I didn't bother to move. The bus was a double-decker and with the morning sun slowly rising as if from a golden orange bed behind the dark hills in the distance into a lightly clouded sky the view from the upper deck across the rural landscape between Bristol and Bath would in itself have been worth getting up for. As the bus heading East passed the gates of Kingswood Park with their evocative inscription "Face The Dawn" the few of us on board obliged to do so, were richly rewarded.
It was cold. The bus had no heating on. I don't remember being so cold for quite some time and despite my coat, gloves and wooly hat concluded that it was because I was wearing my 'business' outfit beneath.
I've never liked wearing suits or that type of outfit for two reasons really. The first is the practicality of a suit. A far as I can tell a suit keeps you neither dry nor warm, is quite uncomfortable, is not easily cleaned and, since it is all part of a fragile image and only the cover of the book, is all too easily damaged and torn. Given a free choice in what to wear how many of us would wear a suit? The rise in popularity of army surplus outfits is answer enough for me.
The second reason is the cost. Since the business world still insists on the wearing of such outfits and workers have no choice but to buy them it seems clear that prices have been artificially inflated if compared to other types of clothes. So putting the two things together it seems reasonable to me to dislike being forced into having to pay a large sum of money to buy an outfit which is generally of no day to day practical use.
Uncomfortable and clenched against the cold we arrived at the Bath bus station by 07:30. I reminded the driver of his promise and was soon trotting along behind him as he enthusiastically showed me through the bus station and out across the road to the rank of shops where the stop for my next bus was. I thanked him in earnest and walked past my stop and round the corner. It was far, far too early to get the bus yet but having my travel plan all safely sorted out and in control I thought I would wander around a little and waste the next half an hour or so.
The street seemed completely deserted at first but then walking smartly down the left hand side toward me carrying his luggage bags over his shoulder was a fully uniformed naval officer complete with peaked hat and gold braid. Feeling rather inferior wearing my wooly hat I looked away avoiding eye contact and it was then that I noticed a short way up on my right, sat on a low wall leaning back on the inset iron railings, eyes half closed, swaying slightly, a disheveled tramp of a figure wearing a filthy old black trilby hat. On that deserted Bath street in the damp cold of the early morning for a brief moment we three were there, line abreast although I have no doubt that it was only I that knew it. It amused me to ponder that somehow the pose that we had briefly struck was representative of the possible outcomes to me of my day. On the left hand I could be successful and offered a job and return to being a 'normal', upright member of society or on the right I could be unsuccessful and continue on my way in a more 'unconventional' lifestyle. Passing between them I continued on my way up the middle of the lonely street.
It always seems the right thing to do when I go to Bath, to go and see the Abbey to somehow touch base with the city. It seems to me to be in the right place in the thick of it amongst the hustle and bustle of the tourists and street performers. By the time I reached it the rising sun had found its uppermost towers and buttresses and was casting golden shadows on the sandstone walls. The plaintive wailing of a gull in the deserted quiet made me look up to be confronted by the eerie gaze of the eroded faceless figures carved into the walls above the West entrance. I was shivering. It was freezing and I seemed to be getting colder and colder. I wondered if perhaps the pigeon, that was cooing and strutting backwards and forwards in what I at first thought was a mating ritual, was in fact just pacing up and down trying to keep warm.
Pausing briefly to pick up the shiny new penny lying on the ground I headed briskly off to walk along the river and maybe work up some body heat.
I don't know why it has been allowed to happen but the river bank and park on this side of the river just behind the Abbey has been turned into some sort of private area only open at certain times so I was unable to enjoy its oasis like peace and tranquility and had to continue on past the heavily chained gates. A couple of people all wrapped in woolens who I thought, for reasons I can't explain, just had to be students, were sat fishing in a small rowing boat which was anchored in the river. I don't know what on earth they thought they were fishing for, but the dead fish bait that one of them had on his hook was bigger than what I would have been more than happy to have caught. Definitely students, I thought.
Moving along and looking over the parapet wall down into the river and the boiling green, white water of the Pultney Weir and Sluice I self-consciously tried not to look like a prospective suicide jumper. As if designed for the attention of any lost souls with such an act in mind, a vandalised notice in front of me bolted to the stone wall commanded, "Dance No diving."
I crossed the Pultney bridge and descended the narrow flight of steps to the river walkway on the opposite bank, alternately carrying my briefcase in each hand so that the other had a chance to warm a little in a coat pocket. A group of quacking ducks with no understanding of pollution and no choice in the cold, busily ducked in the filth of a stagnant inlet searching for food in the submerged black silt. In the damp river air the cold got the better of me and I decided to head back to the bus stop and get on the first number 2 bus that came by no matter how early I was.
Within minutes of joining the small group of waiting people the bus arrived. After having fed my explorer card through the automatic machine I was soon sat and wondering how I would know where to get off. Thankfully it immediately became clear from overheard snippets of people's conversations and 'good morning' greetings that almost everyone on board was heading for my destination. As if to confirm it a uniformed naval officer also got on. I decided I would follow the hat.
Within fifteen minutes the bus was pulling up at the main security gate and everyone including me was getting off. Half a dozen paces from the bus and I was in the reception building waiting my turn to talk to the busy man behind the reception counter. I explained I was extremely early but he was happy to sign me in, issue me with a pass and indicate a room next to the toilet where I could sit and wait. I had to wait for perhaps half an hour but oh what a luxury that wait was after the previous hour. The toilet had a hot air hand drier and the waiting room had a comfortable chair and a warm radiator. With my hat coat and gloves safely hidden in my briefcase I felt quite comfortable and almost, dare I say, confident. Well, almost!
It is generally unfortunate to have too much time to think in such circumstances but on this occasion I really was quite happy to sit and mull a few things over and actually observe how I was coping with the stress. I was doing ok. I didn't even want a cigarette!
Eventually someone was sent to escort me to the recruitment section and where I would be interviewed.
It was a long walk. My escort politely made small talk and asked me what job I was being interviewed for. As if to bring my stress level up to a more familiar level I realised that I couldn't answer him. Complete mental blank. Of course I knew the type of job but in my head I hadn't bothered to give it a name and couldn't for the life of me remember what official term it had been given in the advertisement. I must have looked so SO stupid but the moment soon passed . . . . for him!
It was a long, long, long walk. This was why the instructions I had been sent had said that interviewees should arrive ten minutes before the interview. It took that long to walk there from the main gate. It was amazing. Huge long corridors with rooms off on every side stretching as far as the eye could see. Out of one building into the open air, into the labyrinthine corridor of the next and repeating the process a couple of times before finally turning off into a room and being shown a chair where I should wait while the 'board' was told of my arrival and whilst my passport and education certificates were presumably photocopied before being returned to me.
In no time at all I was being welcomed by the woman who was one of those interviewing me, and was shown into the small room and introduced to the younger man and off we went! They attempted to put me at my ease and pointed out the water jug, which I could help myself to if I wished. I assured them I was quite ok thank you and explained I was shaking so much if I picked it up I would probably have poured it all over the table.
They took it in turns to ask their questions but I'm not going to go into detail.
There seems little point in elaborating the awkwardness of the situation as I failed to initiate a handshake and the poor man stood 'hovering' over the table for ages waiting for me to do so as I happily sat down. How could I explain I new little about their business since, when researching it on the internet I had ended up finding the RAF site where they were selling Chipmunk aircraft and that had seemed far more interesting? How should I have explained to someone who radiated self confidence and higher than high self esteem, how I came to be medically retired from the Post Office after almost twenty years and how in front of them I was now feeling about eight years old? How on earth did we end up talking about the Millennium Dome? Why did I have such difficulty in understanding their questions? Why on earth had I been so interested in hearing that they still had smoking rooms? Was it so wrong for me to have no questions save for the unvoiced one of, 'well have I got the job or not'?!! Enough!!!
After what seemed like hours and hours of torturous embarrassment I was shown out, was told I'd probably know within a week and was escorted back to the reception area. On the way, looking at my watch I couldn't believe that a mere thirty minutes had passed. It was only a half hour interview!! My escort dropped me off and picked up the next applicant who was there waiting and who of course looked to me very youthful, clean-cut, confident, smart, eager, intelligent, happy . . . all at once in fact quite obviously just the man for the job!
I felt almost a little cheated as I handed in my pass, got straight on the bus that seemed to have arrived just for me and took out my coat, hat and gloves and hastily covered up the interview me. My previously high spirits seemed to ebb away as the bus dropped back down the hills into the city. I got off early and walked to the Abbey. The day had cost me a lot already one way or another and perhaps just out of bloody mindedness I halved the suggested 'donation' and paid only a pound to go inside. I chose an empty pew right at the back and joined the half dozen or so people already sat admiring the roof and amazingly huge and colourful stained glass window. The hushed atmosphere seemed exaggerated by the intrusion of far off almost unworldly drifting notes of what was perhaps a flute being brilliantly played somewhere outside.
I can't explain quite why but I was overcome with negative feelings about the way my life had turned out. What on earth was I doing there? The funny thing about a church is that I guess most good people will offer its space some respect whatever their beliefs. A good church will reflect that and have a different atmosphere and whatever the reason is probably as good a place as any to sit and shed a tear safe in the knowledge that it's ok and that any near at hand know what it is like to sit there. I think the man in front of me may have been upset.
I sat outside for a time listening to the busker who was playing classical music on a recorder to the accompaniment of taped backing music. He really was very good and knew it. After having had my fill of his 'free' performance at a particularly intricate bit I sneaked off detouring around the almost empty hat with just a few coins in it in front of him.
I had to wait at the bus station for about half an hour watching people bustling through before the rested driver opened his door for business at about eleven fifteen. Within minutes I was settled in on the top deck, right at the front ready to enjoy the views of the journey home, as the bus reversed out and we were on our way.
Snaking around the city streets occasionally halting at bus stops, some of which I had passed on my way to the bus station, we eventually pulled up at one with a roofed shelter. Only six feet from me or less, was an enormous black bird. I don't know what the difference is between a crow and a rook or whatever else it could have been but it was black and huge with a large grey beak. It was a big old bird and was totally oblivious to my presence and couldn't care less about the bus that had just pulled up. It was happily sat on top of the bus shelter eating what appeared to be a yogurt from its plastic pot. As I watched it seemed to have had its fill, tossed the pot to one side and set about cleaning itself up. Its beak was covered in the white goo from where it had been dipped in the pot so it happily hopped over to another part of the bus shelter where there was a piece of cloth which looked like a towel and slowly wiped its beak backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards until it was quite clean. It then hopped over coming nearer towards me and then, and then . . . the bus pulled away!
After this the journey home was quite uneventful with me simply enjoying the sunshine and rural views. We were back in Kingswood by midday and I quickly walked straight home to mentally re-enact the interview over and over and over again in my mind so many times and in so many different ways that I no longer have a clue what actually happened in that interview room and thankfully out of shear exhaustion I fell asleep on the settee. I woke in the early evening just in time to rush out and buy an Evening Post because it was Thursday and Thursday is jobs night and I thought I needed to be looking for one.


Chronology

18/11/1999 Vacancies for Ministry of Defence Administrative Assistants advertised in the Thursday Bristol Evening Post.
19/11/1999 Requested an application form.
22/11/1999 Application pack received.
28/11/1999 Application pack completed and sent.
30/11/1999 Confirmation of application receipt.
26/01/2000 Invitation to attend an interview.
24/02/2000 Attended the half hour interview in Bath.
15/03/2000 "I am pleased to inform you that, as a result of your recent appearance before the interview board, your name has been placed upon a short list of candidates who achieved the minimum interview pass mark or above.
Enquiries will now be made into your eligibility, health and other matters. Consequent upon their satisfactory completion, a final offer of appointment will be made. It is anticipated that your starting salary on taking up appointment will be 8256 pa based on the interview pass mark you received.
I should emphasis that, at this stage, there is no guarantee that you will be offered an appointment, and you are therefore advised not to resign from your present employment (if any) nor should you refrain from accepting other employment if you wish to do so."
05/04/2000 Referees contacted for references.
12/04/2000 Notification that a medical report had been requested from my doctor and that under the provisions of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 I had 21 days to contact the doctor to arrange sight of the report before it was sent.
02/05/2000 Earliest appointment possible because of the doctors holiday! Doctors report viewed and sent. " . . . As well as episodes of depression, Mr Jones has longstanding difficulties in relating to other people and has led an isolated life. He has been described by the psychiatrist he has seen, as having a schizoid personality.
However, I believe that prior to his major depressive episode in 1998 he worked satisfactorily for the Post Office for many years. I have not seen him myself since July 1999."
07/07/2000 I phoned asking for a sit.rep. Told the person dealing with it wasn't in but they would phone me Monday.
11/07/2000 The MOD returned my call and explained all my references had now been done and it was only a matter of time before an 'actual' vacancy arose.
16/08/2000 MOD phoned asking if I would be interested in a vacancy in Bath or Corsham! I said NO because of the long commute and confirmed I wanted to remain on the list for the vacancies I had applied for in Bristol.
21/08/2000 Letter from the MOD asking if I would be interested in a vacancy in Bath or Corsham! I rang them as requested and said NO (again!) and confirmed I wanted to remain on the list for the vacancies I had applied for in Bristol.
02/04/2001 Received a letter from the MOD asking if I was still interested in employment.
03/04/2001 I phoned the MOD and said 'Yes I'm still interested.' Once again told there are no vacancies at the moment but maybe soon!!!
07/06/2001 Received a letter from the MOD asking if I was still interested in employment- replied yes I was! They said there was an opening and they would write to me with details and a job description and invite me up to have a look around.
09/06/2001 Received the MOD job description in the mail together with instructions to ring up and confirm I am interested and then a 'visit' will be arranged for me.
11/06/2001 I phoned the MOD to confirm my interest and they said they would 'get back to me'.
18/06/2001 I phoned the MOD about the job only to be told they would get back to me - yet again. They didn't!
22/06/2001 I rang the MOD about the job only to be told they would get back to me - yet again! I was a little stroppy on the phone and amazingly it seemed to do the trick and a little I was rung me back and told that the department they had contacted about a 'visit' hadn't got back to them.
24/07/2001 Received a phone call from the MOD. They informed me they had neglected to tell me that the job I had been sent details about had 'been done away with'!!? They did however say there is now a similar opening and "they want to get me on board as soon as possible". I joked I was busy tomorrow. They said they would aim for me to start in two weeks and would write to me with details - again!
26/07/2001 Received a phone call from the MOD asking about the 'gap' in my post office career. I told them this was fully discussed and explained at interview but (with embarassment) I explained again over the phone.
03/08/2001 Received a letter from the MOD demanding completion of a duplicate security questionaire and submission of my passport again! This was already done when I originaly applied for the job! I left an ansaphone message for the woman at the MOD asking if I really have to fill in the form etc. because I already did last year and nothing has changed.
09/08/2001 Tried phoning the MOD on all the numbers I have but only succeeded in getting ansaphones and didn't bother leaving another message that I felt would be equally ignored!
13/08/2001 Tried phoning the MOD again and managed to get an answer. They confirmed I DID need to complete another security questionaire and submit my passport because the last one I did was so long ago! Drove to the MOD site and hand delivered the form and my passport to the mail room.
15/08/2001 MOD returned my passport in the post.
13/03/2002 Received a letter from the MOD saying "I would be grateful if you would advise this office if you are still interested in an appointment with Ministry of Defence at Abbey Wood. Please accept my apologies for the length of time you have been awaiting a posting. This has been due to internal difficulties." In disgust I decided not to reply.
23/03/2002 Received a letter from the MOD asking if I am still interested in a post with the MOD and saying "If I have not heard from you by 5 April, I will assume that you wish to withdraw from the campaign."

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