Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rocket woman

Jordan (age 13) did the IT careers test ('Plan-it') last week. We were not at all surprised when it took her aptitude for science and maths and her desire to do something loving and caring and came up with 'Doctor', along with all manner of other medical careers. It probably helped that she told it 'I want to be a doctor'. However, we were rather more taken aback by the alternative career suggestion - astronaut. Maybe they noted her tendency to appear as though she lives on another planet at times; but I thought that was common to all teenagers.

It still wasn't as entertaining as one of her friends, who had the options of 'actor' (I expect this was due to him telling the computer 'I want to be an actor') or....greengrocer. Computer says no, indeed. We can't possibly imagine what questions the program asked to come up with this conclusion.

'Do you like vegetables?' IF YES...

'Do you like to be in an environment where vegetables are the predominant lifeform?' IF YES...

'Do you like to feel a sense of power over the destiny of vegetables?' IF YES...'GREENGROCER!'


'Do you like vegetables?' IF YES...

'Do you like to be in an environment where vegetables are the predominant lifeform?' IF YES...

'Do you like to feel a sense of power over the destiny of vegetables?' IF NO....'ACTOR!'

...or something like that (apologies to any non-vegetable-like actors out there).

Friday, January 18, 2008

The art of application

I had a very depressing day on Wednesday, shortlisting applicants for 2 staff nurse posts. Normally we get just a handful of applications, Dermatology being a bit of an unknown quantity to many nurses and outpatients being viewed as a backwater (not so: but I don't need to convince you now). So we teamed up with orthopaedics outpatients to advertise a post apiece, and were most surprised to get a grand total of 62 applicants. Both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings were spent staring at a computer - we also had a new shortlisting online system to get to grips with - and sifting the wheat from the chaff.

Now I've been on the other side of things, and know the desperate feeling when you need to get out of one job and romp across the proverbially green grass on the other side of the fence. You'll apply for jobs that in no way match your knowledge and skills, and I'm sure I've put in the odd application form with a whiff of desperation about them. But around 30 of these were on a different scale entirely. Nurses from India, Pakistan, The Phillippines and Nigeria all stuck working in Nursing Homes and wanting to work in the NHS. They assured me in broken English that their communication skills were excellent; they reassured me that they knew how to operate all the acute monitoring equipment that we never use in outpatients. They told me they had work permits, or if they didn't that they soon would have. One begged me (please please please give me a chance...); one told me they needed the job so that they could stay with their family; one simply wrote, 'I am a refugee'. Not one (I tell a lie: we shortlisted one from overseas) met the criteria we were looking for. By the end of all that I felt cruel, which is not a feeling I have very often and certainly not one I enjoyed. I wonder what will happen to all those nurses - how many will stay, working in nursing home jobs that they hate and missing their experience in acute wards. I suspect that many of our elderly population will be nursed into their dying days by unhappy staff a long way from home. I wonder how that will feel for both carers and residents.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chim chim cheroo

The chimney sweep came to sort out two of our chimneys today. Most disappointing. For one thing, he was called Nigel, instead of Bert - very un-sweep-like. For another his methods were untraditional. He had one of those big chim-chim-cheree brushes, but it was yellow not black; and he mainly used an industrial hoover. Also, there was a complete absence of small boys (in varying sizes, ranging from 'tiny' to 'really rather small', to fit every size and shape of flue) in cloth caps waiting to do a cheery song-and-dance routine. Which was a great pity, because we have the scaffolding up for our loft conversion at the moment, so I was fully expecting to join Nigel and a cast of thousands for a Mary Poppins singalong on my roof. As it was, Nigel looked at me a little oddly and asked who I was talking to just because I was discussing the weather with the cat. I don't think the man had much imagination.
Anyway, £50 later (yes, really. If I'd realised I'd have shoved the end of the Dyson, and probably the fluffier one of our cats for good measure, up the chimney myself) we have two chimneys that are considerably less full of debris. They may not be clean enough to eat your dinner off, but hopefully they won't drop bits of mortar all over a) our fire, and b) our bedroom floor, respectively.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Season's Greetings

I have just seen the first advert of the year for Cadbury's Creme Eggs.

On January 2nd.

How depressing.