Wednesday, 27 January 2010

week eleven: no more the fool?

was I fool? i had a part-time senior finance position in a well established company. as i sit wondering quite when i'll derive some cash from my venture i can't stop that 1980s song from snivelling around in my head "no more the sound as my dreams fall and hit the ground, as i wait around, no more the foohooohoool"......

the problem is that there are lots of very positive very excited gate-keepers to possible clients, but the clients, well they ain't showing themselves and i'm losing confidence in what i'm actually saying that i can offer. i have just gone through the financial review that adam did of 2009 and it seems that last year i did spend quite a lot at M&S and John Lewis, not sure what on, and also things that fell into the "presents" category and the "baby" category and the "entertainment" category... life without an income is becoming rather gray and i just ate homemade sweet potato soup for lunch and haven't bought an americano today.

apparently the economy grew by 0.1% yesterday; that's not really very much. that's easily "swingable" by simply making a few casting or transposition errors as us in the trade like to term them. if i told adam that our personal economy had grown by 0.1% last month it would mean that i'd maybe had 4 less coffees, bought two extra i-phone apps (although the deal do-er in me favours the free ones: lineup; toobz, APOD (astrology picture of the day...)), off-set that by using my hazard lights rather than paying for parking when doing a nursery pick-up and made the children eat less squeezy-fruit-smoothies (instant delivery of one of the five fruit portions: guilt free treat). anything more significant such as clinique make-up remover, new tummy reducing tights, jo jingles astronomical term fees, would not be up for consideration in the 0.1% reduction as i'd deem them exceptional items and as such below the line of publication. and i think that is the broad-brush approach that the national statistics team have taken. "oh we've forgotten the self-employed finance sector, oh bugger, nigel did you get those figures? they weren't great were they? but it's january, i think that they were a bit slow on the getgo. it doesn't really count. let's just leave them out. now RETAIL; i definitely have those to hand because december was just so jolly for those folks"...etc etc.

so this week i've met with the two small companies that i will be a volunteer business mentor for in 2010. don't snigger. this was organised through the university spin-out group. both are very different and hugely interesting; the meetings did two things for me. made me realise that i do have good commercial and strategic instincts and things i think are intuitive aren't, they weren't for me 15 years ago either, but you forget what you've learnt and what experience does for you. they also asked some questions about tax and arghghghhh my "at my fingertips" tax knowledge is abysmal! so that was good to know.

i have also taken the plunge and contacted three agencies about contract work; i'll try to get interviews and then enter the "part-time" discussion after those. hmmm.

however on a more positive life note we did have a dinner party on saturday which was the first i've done in a long time and i discovered a wealth of fabby morrocan recipes; i do like to cook on a theme. gordon ramsay's world food book was amazing; i did the falafel and tahini, and also the spinach and feta filo rolls. and adam did the yoghurt cake which was delicious! unlike jamie oliver, who will always hold my cooking heart, gordon's recipes are probably slightly less forgiving however i followed them really carefully and it all worked as described. so i highly recommend a go! i did bill granger's lemon and sweet potato lamb tagine for the main course: easy and yummy and hot hot hot.

but enough; i divulge into my secure haven of cooking to move me away from focusing on getting a client. in fact even writing this is a naughty guilty pleasure as i should be drafting a letter to all the local venture capitalists and accountants in my next round of marketing push.

so enough wondering whether i should have stayed where i was; nothing comes from nothing etc etc and hopefully by this time next week i will have a teeny tiny glimmer of cash-based hope...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

week nine & ten: running on vapours maverick....

adam is goose. he keeps pointing out more and more frantically that we're running on vapours whilst i hunt down the elusive cougar. i KNOW i can bring us home eventually but the question is can i keep flying this mig long enough before we go down due to lack of fuel? enough already of the analogies; the more i get into that one the more true it feels; and as a child of the 70s top gun comes quite high on the list of films i can quote endlessly from, alongside dirty dancing. actually just those two sadly. but the fact of the matter is i'm burning through the money (blame christmas, income tax, car tax,starbucks blah blah blah) but i think i'm about 2 months short on the use of the redundancy and if i don't bring home poor cougar soon then we'll have to sell the kids.

and i know this isn't strictly speaking week nine & ten but in terms of productive back to work weeks it probably is. i did do my backup-work in early january, trudging happily through the snow to mark accountancy exams(i know, i should think more selflessly about those it hindered but i loved the snow, it made me feel happy and the world looked nice and it felt like a gift to be sledging on the meadows and stomping to costa for hot chocolates....issue avoidance time as it delayed the real world a bit longer). oddly, some may think, i really enjoy marking accountancy papers. it is therapeutic, cathartic even. you have to focus and it is a challenge, but it is do-able, they make you coffee, there's no outstanding to-do list and it pays quite nicely! and, ought i admit it, four child-free days after three weeks of full on christmas debauchery all round was like a de-tox and i came out of it all breezy and renewed with vigour.

so i was back to proper work last week but it was also daughter #2's second birthday and i have to admit to using a bit of work-time to do a huge sainsburys (i don't know how a party at home ends up costing more than the national debt) and making THREE madeira cakes as requested by adam. actually adam was in charge of the cake. i was in charge of creating 12 peppa pig hand drawn pictures for colouring, drawing george's dinosaur (large) for pin the tail on the dinosaur plus 12 cardboard named tails, food for 10 adults and 12 children, present sourcing and wrapping, prizes, loser prizes (paddy avoidance), sweeties to go within pass the parcel layers (demanded as de rigour by daugher #1)and general organisation. adam was allocated (by himself) CD creation for the dancing. and cake making and decorating. i had to reject draft #1 of the former and request more bob the builder and less shake your booty style tunes. and on the latter task, he advised me that he would be making the george and the dinosaur cakes on friday night, and also decorating them that night, and surely 3 madeira cakes would take 20 mins max each. so i made them all on thursday (3 hours) and he did duly cut them out and fashion them into an amazing george and his dinosaur cake (will post photo). between 7pm and 12.30am fri/sat. so that was good. i did the rest, which was also good.

the party passed in the usual haze of sugar-infused-abba-based frenzy, culminating in cake admiration all round and a lot of inferences of less-than-male tendancies for adam from other dads. mockery aside, he was very very useful at tidy-up time and armed with a bottle of dettol had the house back to normal by 8.30, at which point we more or less downed a bottle of red, sainsburys curry (very cost effective compared to take out, justify justify) and laughed over-zealously at "the hangover" due to exhaustion.

however i did manage to meet with a private equity business that week and they seemed very keen to use my services on a contract basis...but nothing concrete in hard cash yet.

this week i have met with representatives from the chamber who similarly seem keen. however i had my first sleepless time from 2am to 6am today due to having "run the finances" on sunday and realising that i really do have to either stop nursery or get paid work soon, as the lead time on nursery notice is 4 weeks. i say "soon" as i'm avoiding working out the actual crunch date but i do need to do it and will decide this weekend on different scenario strategies. maybe, like maverick, i'm just doing a few flybys to test my own mettle, and will suddenly spot the bogey and NAIL it.

talking of bogeys, daughter #1 had a hearing test today as i wasn't sure if her lack of response to certain questions was due to a genuine difficulty. it seems not. 100% pass rate, proving that other things are just more interesting than my voice.

so watch this space for more up-dates on progress this week. i'm just wondering if adam is goose who is my kelly with a phD in astrophysics (civilian, you do NOT salute her)and more importantly where is ice-man? answers on a postcard please.