Tag Archives: moving

Debits & Credits

The cost of relocating to London has caused me manys a sleepless night. Before I even set foot in the office of my new employer, I owe a couple of grand. This unnerves me. To ease the pain of cash flow issues, I decided to apply for a loan from Ulster Bank whom I’ve banked with – but never bank on – for the last six years. I made an early appointment in the Athlone branch one Monday morning.

Helen, the lovely customer advisor, and I sat in her cubby-hole office, equipped with printer and photocopier. I clutched a large coffee and marvelled at the blandness of her small space. Numerous sheets of paper churned through the spool of the printer. Helen highlighted and narrated the legal jargon on each form. I confirmed my personal details and she responded, clicking and tapping on her keyboard, throwing a cursory glance my way.

She paused. “Hmmm, that’s strange,” she said.

I sat up in my chair. “What is?” I asked. Paranoia was evident.

“The system has instantly declined your application”. Line by line, she scrutinised the information on screen. She clicked again. And again. “Have you any financial issues you’d like to tell me?”

Blood rushed up my neck. My cheeks glowed. “I may have missed the odd credit card payment here and there.”

Helen thought for a moment. “That’s not serious. It shouldn’t prompt an instant decline. There must be something wrong with the system.” She shrugged it off. She pulled a glossy blue and white application form from her drawer and reached for a biro. She completed the form on my behalf. “Have you any shares? Have you a car? Do you own any property?”

I answered each question negatively.

Completed form in hand, Helen turned to her computer. “Ah,” she said. “It is as I guessed. The reason you are getting an instant decline is because the system doesn’t like you.”

“What do you mean?”

“It doesn’t like your details. In the interest of being open and upfront, I will talk you through it. Stephen, you are twenty eight years old. You earn quite a good salary. You’ve exceeded your overdraft limit twice in the last six months. You have no savings! Where is your preparation for the long-term? Have you no interest in owning a property?”

I sighed. “Sorry if this offends you, but you now sound like my mother.”

“I often hear this. Your mother is right. What do you have to show for all this expenditure?”

“Helen, I live quite a good life.”

“I bet you do, Stephen.” She laughed. “It’s reflected in your bank balance. You could turn your position around in three months. Set some money aside each month and start saving!”

I endured the remainder of Helen’s lecture before leaving her cubby-hole disheartened. I have never been good with money. I have an amazing ability to rid myself of debt, but like the typical Irish person of the Good Times of Old, I fail to appreciate a bank account with a credit balance; why debit when you can credit? I need to redress my views on finances. Helen’s words echoed through my mind for days. It was, while sorting through clothes for the move, did I come face to face with my problem. Hanging in my wardrobe were jackets and coats, ranging in price from half to a full month’s rent. I felt anger.

Screw you coats and jackets. It’s your fault! Helen is right! I have nothing to show for all that money I spent. I have nothing, but a wardrobe of coats. Exactly how many coats do I need? Who am I, Johnny Fucking Forty Coats?

I left my bedroom sickened by the sight of those tributes to thoughtless frivolity. I visited the kitchen for a glass of water to quench the hot, fiery anger in my belly. Within seconds, I was back in my bedroom.

Sorry, coats and jackets. I caressed their sleeves fondly. I really didn’t mean it. Helen is wrong. She is very wrong. No matter what happens we will always have one another.

All Signs Point to …

I have been talking about relocating to a new city for a while.

Over pints, with a red, flushed face, did I all too often, dramatically announce, “I’m leaving! Remember this face! I am gone! I am sick of Dublin. Sick of it. There are too many ghosts in this city.”

Eyes were often thrown to heaven. “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this before”. Sometimes I even received, “what do you expect to get from London that you can’t get in Dublin?”

A month ago, Best Friend proposed he and I spend some time looking for jobs in London using the internet. We did an in-depth, intricate search on Google, using scant terms such as “London VAT jobs”. We received a few matches.

Best Friend  perused one particular job spec. “I think this job would suit you.”

I read the detail on the screen. I shook my head. “Oh, no, this sounds very technical. No, no, this is not for me at all.”

We came across similar jobs. I shooed the notion of them away.

A day or so later, I pondered the job spec. The more I thought on it, the more I realised this job was for me. I could do this. I could be good at this. This is my job! I called the recruitment agent. We chatted about my experience and interest in the role. He forwarded my CV to the recruiters, who instantly expressed interest in my profile.

Faraway, in another land, removed from flights of fancy of living the London Life, Best Friend and I addressed our living situation. The duration of the lease on the apartment, slowly wasted away; to extend the lease or not.

“I could just quit my job – for the first time in my life, throw caution to the wind and leave! Oh wait, no, I have no savings. This won’t work.”

Best Friend disagreed. “You need a job before you move. We’ll look at the matter of the lease, when the need arises.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere, away from employment opportunities and living arrangements, did I happen to meet a handsome, English man – London Bloke – in Dublin for a business trip. We arranged a date. The date went well. In fact, it went very well. I like him very much. I am lazy in romance and for what is a rare occasion, I made the first move on our date.

Roughly one week later, events progressed nicely. Before I knew it, I was required to go to London for a second interview.  London Bloke and I had been in contact prior to the interview. We arranged a second date, deciding to meet in Soho.

I arrived late, having spent fifteen minutes wandering around Soho in search of Compton Street. I walked into the darkness of the bar and looked around for London Bloke. I spotted him within seconds. He looked good. I awkwardly greeted him. I was nervous. Do I shake his hand or kiss him on the mouth?  What is the etiquette for a second date? I opted for a kiss on the cheek.

“It’s really nice to see you again,” he said.

My head spun. Wow, Irish men never say stuff like that. Well, the Irish men I’ve known never would. “It’s nice to see you too,” I replied somewhat coyly, looking to the floor.

“You’re in my city this time. Let me buy you a pint.”

We moved to a nook of the bar. Conversation and laughter radiated from that corner.

London Bloke supped his pint of ale. “So, how did the interview go?”

“It went OK. My head was completely fried afterwards. It was two hours long. I spoke for two hours! I am naturally talkative, but even I found that challenging.”

“When will you know the results?”

I hesitated. “Thing is … I already know the results …”

He raised his eyebrows in expectation. “Oh?”

“I got the job.”

A sexy smile crept across his face. “I am so happy for you. And, I am happy for me too.”

I was stunned. I’m sure my smile beamed. “Thanks.” I felt very strange right then, unaccustomed to the sensation of shyness.

I returned to Dublin the next day, slowly and gradually communicating my news to friends. Events were slowly settling in my own head. Since then, I have handed in my notice at work. I am due to finish my job 15th July; the same day the lease ends on the apartment.

I fancy the arse off London Bloke. As sad – or hopeful – as it sounds, I have not felt like this about anyone in years. I no longer feel dead from the waist down.

I never subscribed to the “whatever is meant for you won’t pass you by” train of thought. In my opinion, our lives are what we make them. Recent events have caused me to wonder if sometimes, now and again, things just go right and fall tidily into place.

It’s really quite nice when this happens.

Some Just Can’t Say “Good Bye”

I can be dreadfully intolerant of other people’s differences. However, time has taught me tolerance and lessons. There was a moment in canteen last week, when I was able to impart wisdom to a colleague. Colleague complained that a co-worker left our work place for the last time, without giving a proper good bye. I regaled her with a story:

“I once moved in with a friend. We lived together for almost a year. We weren’t the best of mates, but we were close. Circumstances changed for her and she moved to London, intending to rent her house to me and other tenants.”

“I remember the day she was due to move out. It was a week day and she was up earlier than I. I was about to leave for work and remember noticing how little of her belongings were packed. She complained about how much work she had to do. ‘You’ll be fine,’ I comforted her. She said she would see me later that evening. I did not say good bye.”

“I purposely came home straight after work to catch her before she left. Approaching the house from the driveway, it was obvious there was no one home. I turned on the lights and realised how stark the house was with my housemate’s belongings. All her personal effects were gone.”

“It was a little upsetting. I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t make the time to give a proper good bye. Everywhere I looked, I noticed absent items; photos, paintings, books and ornaments. I did my best not to get upset.”

“Weeks later, I told my friend  Angela of the events. ‘Why could she not even make the time to say goodbye?’ I asked her. ‘We lived together for a year. I find it upsetting’.”

“’Sweetie,’ said Angela. ‘Some people just can’t say good bye’”

“My friend left Ireland a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been in situations when this experience has proven valuable.”

“Some people just can’t say ‘good bye’.”

Secret Twitter

Miss Polly sent me a link this morning to Secret Twitter. Secret Twitter allows for anonymous posting of secrets. Some of the posts are incredibly moving. Take a look, if you fancy a good weep. I showed them to some co-workers with tears in my eyes. One colleague asked me to stop looking at them. She said I am empathic; I shouldn’t read things like that because I feed off other people’s feelings. It ultimately affects my mood. I might log on again later when she is not looking.

My First Fag

Nope, this story is not about the first guy I got with. It is about the first cigarette I properly smoked.

Until the age of fourteen, I moved around an awful lot. While attending school in England, I was a trouble maker and terrible in school. Essentially, I was a cool kid. When I moved to Ireland, I underwent a personality transplant. My English accent alienated me from the other students. The fact I was well spoken and could hold a conversation with the teacher meant I was a nerd. I went with it. I was never overly happy, but it didn’t weigh down on me terribly. 

Popularity didn’t concern me until I was in secondary school. In third year, before my Junior Certificate, I decided I wouldn’t work as hard as I could. I wanted to stop doing well in work so that I would be on the same level as the no brainers with whom I shared a class. I didn’t pay attention or cooperate with teachers. The peak of my plan involved buying a packet of cigarettes. I bought a packet of Silk Cut and put them in my pocket, careful to remove at least one so it didn’t look brand new.

One day, while walking from school with another pupil from my class, he said he needed to buy cigarettes. I whipped out my packet and offered him one. He declined and didn’t comment any further. The following week, other students were talking of the scandal of me smoking. It was then I realised, if my plan were to come to fruition, I would need to actually smoke a cigarette in front of the ‘cool’ students. I would teach myself to smoke.

I had heard of some smokers “not smoking properly” since they didn’t inhale. I aimed to do this. One day, in a cubicle of the toilets, I lit up and took a few drags. At first it wasn’t too bad. I should learn to hold the smoke, I thought. I took a deep drag on the cigarette and inhaled a lungful of nicotine. I held it for as long as I could. Suddenly, my eyes started to dim and I felt dizzy. I gasped for air, avoiding a total black out. Noise of coughing and hard spluttering filled the cubicle. I had nearly suffocated myself.

That was the end of my hopes of coolness.