Today is the third Monday of my summer job for this year, and my first week solo: My predecessor -and my trainer for the first two weeks- Heather, has moved on. Suddenly I feel like a tightrope walker who’s had their safety net removed. There are a million and one things to remember, and I’ll be handling cash, which leaves no margin for error, although there’ll be checks on checks on checks.
My day the same as in the previous years, and indeed my Mondays over the last university year except that I walk Alice around the park before catching the bus three days a week, and the bus is into Bristol, rather than the bus to Bath. The ride is a lot less interesting or scenic than toward uni, as the traffic crawls along through the crammed streets of Bristol.
Geographically I’m very close to where I worked before; the Abbott’s House is just behind the Eye Hospital, that little building crouching among the surrounding behemoths that loom over it. In many other ways though, it’s a million miles away from previous years.
I’m working in a small office that belongs to Above & Beyond, part of a quasi-autonomous operation that’s staffed by only fifteen people, mostly young, and all enthusiastic, so there’s a definite buzz to the place. They are a charity specifically set up to support the nine (or is it eight? Or ten?) hospitals that make up the United Hospitals of Bristol Trust (or UBHT – the NHS likes its acronyms).
But. This year I’m working 3 full days, from Monday to Wednesday, 9 until 5.30. During that time I’m pretty much offline, so virtually all the jobs that I need to do to keep the business ticking over has to be crammed into four days. And that’s before I start writing.
Three, actually; the last two weekends, we’ve spend part of it away. Last Sunday we went down to the in-laws before hurtling back, while on Saturday, I travelled up to Derby (and back). It’s made it almost impossible to work out a routine, and ironically my one absolutely free day -Thursday- has been spent doing odd little jobs that have become overdue during the intervening three days.
I’m gradually easing toward some sort of routine, but I still feel all over the place, both physically and mentally. Somehow I need to find enough energy in the evenings to sort out some of those niggling, time consuming jobs -like ordering printer catridges or posting parcels- during Monday to Wednesday, either during the evening or in my lunch break.
It’s helped that I’ve managed to sort out some problems with a horror story called ‘Razorbill Island’ that I’ve been bogged down with, and get about two thousand words done over Friday and Saturday, and Alt.Fiction has been put to bed for another week. That went very well from the perspective of entertaining and educating the audience -at least I hope it did!- but book sales were on the floor for everyone, except for those offering one and two pound second-hand books. Dark Spires sold no better than anyone else’s work.
I think it’ll be some time before I’m completely comfortable with the new routine. Who knows? It may take all of the eleven weeks I’m scheduled to be at Above and Beyond….