This week we had a visit from a plumber. It doesn’t happen often because I’m more of the ‘wrap something around it to absorb the leak’ school of thought, but the cupboard under our sink was a little past that. I share this story as a way to make you feel better about any awkward moments you may have had with tradespeople.

So, he arrived.

‘The sink is over here,’ I said, already feeling like a goon because he is a plumber and if he can’t recognise a sink then really, what’s the point?

‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘let’s take a look.’

Now this, I appreciate now, was the moment where I should have offered him a cup of tea. However, I knew it was going to be a quick job, and I was wary of that whole awkward ‘you’ve made me this tea so I’m going to have to drink it but it’s actually scalding my throat’ scenario.

So I hesitated.

When you hesitate in a situation like this then that’s it, you’re finished. You can’t offer a plumber a cup of tea when they’re nearly finished – that would be like me coming into the room in stockings, carrying a Cosmopolitan in a sexy way. (How do you actually do that? Cocktail glasses are very easy to spill.)

Okay, so he doesn’t get tea. I can style that out. 

He goes out to his van to get some tools. What do I do now? I don’t want to have left the room while he is gone, that feels weird, but I also don’t want to just be standing there in the middle of the kitchen, waiting, so I sit down on a dining chair and have a look at my phone.

He comes back in. I finish the email I’ve been writing.

NOW WHAT?!

He is under the sink and I am sat in silence on a dining chair.

It’s weird.

I hesitate again though, and there, I’m stuck in the chair. I can’t leave now can I? That would be odd. But I can’t really make small talk about the sink, especially as his head is underneath it. So I sit some more in silence, as though I’m an invigilator in an exam. I send a few more emails, mainly to avoid looking up and accidentally making eye contact. I feel like the whole thing has gone too far and speaking now would just draw attention to the preceding silence.

Eventually he finishes, and I look up and smile casually, as though I’d forgotten he was there and I always sit like that in the kitchen.

‘What is it you do then?’ he asks as he gets out his forms.

Oh God no. 

I hate this question, especially when it comes from sensible grown up people in their sixties who have real professions, like plumbing. I consider making something up, but I’m not a good liar.

‘I write a blog,’ I say.

He looks confused, but doesn’t say anything. I’m so exhausted by the stress of the whole ‘sitting in silence in the dining chair’ thing that I can’t even explain. I just leave it hanging silently while I sign the paperwork and show him out.

Next time I’m just going to wrap something around the leak.

awkward moment with a plumber

Image – Emanuele Ravecca/shutterstock.

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I’m a sucker for a self-help book.

I have a big stack of them at home and generally I find the messages really positive, if not exactly life-changing. I dip into them every so often as a reminder to do the basic stuff like think positive thoughts and let go of negative emotions. It’s a bit like having a session with a life coach, only cheaper. A lot of it is the same – love yourself, forgive others, embrace fear – nothing revolutionary, but nothing controversial either.

That’s what I thought at least, until I got to a particular paragraph in my latest read, a Christmas present that I put on my Amazon wish list because I do quite want to be a badass and live an awesome life. 

You are a badass

I was over half way through the book and I’d not come across anything I disagreed with, apart from the God references, but I just ignore those. I may not be a God fan but each to their own. There was one particular paragraph though that I couldn’t ignore.

It was a paragraph in a section about the stories we tell ourselves and how they hold us back. Some examples included seeing yourself as the sort of person who always fails at relationships, or who is bad with money. There aren’t really no decent men out there, but we kind of fool ourselves into believing it so we don’t have to blame ourselves when it goes wrong. 

Sure, I get that.

But then…

‘We pretty much don’t ever do anything that we don’t benefit from in some way…’ says Jen Sincero. ‘If you’re perpetuating something dismal in your life because of some dopey story, there’s definitely something about it that you’re getting off on.

‘Let’s say, for example, that your story is that you’re depressed. Chances are pretty good that even though it feels awful, when you feel awful you don’t have to work hard or do the laundry or go to the gym. It feels very familiar and cosy and comfortable. It gets you attention. People come in and check on you and sometimes bring you food. It allows you to not try too hard…’

Um, hello?!

Depression is not a spa Jen Sincero. View Post

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I had an email this morning.

(I had more than one obviously, but I had this one in particular.)

It started like this:

‘Hi Jo, Happy Hump Day!’

NO.

No no no no.

HAPPY HUMP DAY?!

Hump Day is just not a real thing. And even if it was, it’s not something you begin an email with, as though it’s Christmas or my birthday or something. Why can’t a Wednesday just be a Wednesday? Why do we feel the need to turn everything into an irritating meme??

The very worst possible combination for me is when it’s combined with the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ slogan, which seems to have been applied to everything in the entire world now. 

keep calm it's hump day

(This had better not get shared. I made it for ironic purposes.)

I actually quite like my job, and Wednesday for me isn’t some kind of amazing pinnacle. I don’t feel the need to measure my week by how many days there are left until I can get drunk or go to a shopping centre and spend all the money I earned in the job I hate on tat that I don’t need. 

And more to the point, even if I did, I wouldn’t give Wednesday a name, and attach it to a comedy picture of a camel, and go around wishing my colleagues a ‘happy Hump Day’ like some kind of loon. I wonder if the writer of the email would ever consider using the expression in real life? I’m imagining him turning up to a meeting with a new client:

‘Hi there,’ he says, shaking hands and holding up a picture of a camel, ‘I’m Gavin, great to meet you, and happy Hump Day!’

Sounds stupid doesn’t it? 

Hump Day.

Not a thing.

The end.

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Okay, I know I normally do short rants, but there is just so much to say on the subject of flexible working isn’t there? Plus I want to talk to you about the Hire Me My Way campaign for more part-time and flexible jobs, and I have a personal story from another blogger to share, so all in all it’s a pretty jam-packed post.

You lucky things!

When you stop to think about ‘work’ as a concept, it’s crazy really. Let’s take your basic office job. A 9am start maybe? An hour for lunch, and then home in time for Pointless and some fish fingers and chips. For starters, the whole idea of everyone going to work and going home at the same time is madness. It’s not wonder we have traffic problems is it?! I mean, who came up with that?! ‘Oh yeah, I know, it would be GREAT if we had everyone try to travel to and from work at the same time everyday! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?’

No, it’s not awesome.

And then you’ve got the whole productivity issue. All of the research, like this, says that flexible working increases productivity, that when we trust our staff to work from home, or to work compressed hours, or whatever it might be, that we get more out of them. So why are so many employers still so scared to embrace flexible working?

Do they not trust us? Do they imagine that the minute they’re not looking, everyone will just be at home playing on Facebook? Because I hate to break it to you bosses, but there are plenty of people sat at their desks right now sneaking a look at Facebook – keeping them locked in an office for set hours every day isn’t going to solve that.

flexible working campaign hire me my way View Post

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I like gin as much as the next self-employed mother of two. It’s ace. Some ice, a good splash of decent tonic water. Boom. Job done. Some gins might taste a little nicer than others; personally I find it hard to tell the difference unless it’s Asda basics or something like that. Gin is gin. 

I was having a browse through a Christmas gift guide in a newspaper at the weekend though, and saw at advert for Silent Pool gin. I’ve never had it before and I’m sure it’s very delicious, so apologies to Silent Pool as this is nothing personal.

BUT.

There was something on the bottle that really wound me up. This gin is not just any old gin you see, this gin is ‘intricately realised’ and distilled from grain ‘precisely crafted’ in England.

Ooooh!

silent pool gin

Jesus Christ.

Intricately realised?? What does that mean? It was complicated to make?! You took a bit of care over your ingredients? Good! I didn’t expect gin would be easy to knock together, or we’d all be making our own wouldn’t we?!

It seems there is a trend that has developed over the last year or two for all of the best things to be hand crafted, by authentic, artisan makers, who live just to make the very best whatever it is that they can possibly make. At the weekends they retreat to the woods to carve spoons and nibble their hand crafted, organic quinoa biscuits because they are just so bloody precious they can’t just eat a Jaffa cake and watch TV like a normal person. View Post

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