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February 28th, 2003

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08:54 pm - Progress report
Four pretty good hours today. :-) Trying to retrace my steps:

  • Withdrew £60 from cash machine. Paid phone bill. Remain in the game for another month.

  • Went to @work recruitment. Spent about half an hour filling in lousy intranet form, which only lets you specify six types of jobs of interest (part of the problem, maybe?) and five qualifications (in practice, my degree and four A-levels). Found that their system wasn't very happy with it for no good reason and the advisor there couldn't sort it out. However, this did mean that the advisor took a look at my CV and had a reasonable chat. She has also referred it "upstairs" to "Talent Recruitment", which does deal with permanent positions and where apparently I am rather better suited. Note to self: must get the contact details of this Talent Recruitment, because @work didn't pass them on.

  • Went to the Cleveland Trade Union & Unemployed Workers Resource Centre. Was amused to see that you can only get in by going through Comrades Café Bar. (The building also hosts the local branch of the Trades Union Congress and so is covered with overtly, heavily left-wing political material. No value judgement.) The administrator there was an absolute sweetheart. Printed out one copy of my CV perfectly. Set the printer to print out another nineteen. It managed one page of the second before jamming nastily on page two of copy one. Managed to unjam a printer I had never seen before fairly easily, which was a confidence-booster. Unfortunately it then spewed through the rest of the paper in the machine printing one line of rubbish on each sheet. (Yes, I did kill the job straight away. It didn't help.) The administrator was very kind ("we can always give the ruined paper to the kids' group upstairs for scribbling on") and printed out a copy on her printer. (Hm - maybe to make sure that I didn't waste any more paper?) She did charge me for ten copies of it, though, albeit not much (10 copies * 2 pages/copy * 4p/page = 80p). Would have been nicer to get 20 freshly-printed copies, but not to be. Stupid Windows.

  • Went to Independent Employment Services. They're mostly a drivers' recruitment agency, but took a CV anyway and will keep me on file.

  • Went to Nutech Staff Consultants, who were probably the nicest bunch all day. Filled in a form. The lady who saw me was extremely pleasant and rather apologetic about only generally being able to offer things like data entry. She said there was a market research position available, but it involved outward cold-calling from a script. Not my cup of tea, so she didn't mind me not being interested. Apparently they had had people try it in the past and quit after one hour, so no point in my going ahead with it.

  • Arrived five minutes early to First Choice Recruitment, who wanted me to fill in a P45 form and a payment clearance details form already. Good marks for efficiency, but lose marks for being mostly driver-focused. They also seemed unduly keen on me ringing them on their 24-hour line every day I wouldn't be available or if I found work elsewhere, which I guess is just overenthusiasm.

  • Went past a building with a confusing graphic on the front where I wasn't sure whether it was a recruitment agency or not. Called in, found out it wasn't, submitted a CV on the off-chance that they had any general admin jobs going anyhow, which the receptionist seemed to appreciate.

  • Called in at GetIT, a training, advice and consultancy place. (It shares an office with the local Tourist Information Centre, so I was shuttled from desk to desk.) Have made an appointment with Ms. Gillian Fawcett at 1:30pm next Tuesday, more to discuss the gulf between my level of academic qualifications, my level of experience and my level of formally recognised IT qualifications.

  • Called in at Manpower where I had dropped my CV off nine days ago. They claimed that they had a big pile of CVs, so got me to fill in a standard form for them about my skills and my jobs, where I didn't have a lot of the details (phone numbers, postcodes, etc.) to hand. They also claimed that they would call me when they had something and arrange a possible interview, though they seemed to be giving some other people interviews and tests of various sorts (typing speed, drug-freedom) straight away. I have a theory that Manpower are rather less accommodating to those who are using their services proactively than they are to those who have been referred to them by some other body who will pay a considerable bounty if they manage to find a job.

  • Went and got a sandwich from Hungry Jack's. Managed not to spill chicken tikka sauce over my nice sauce, which was a bonus; ate sitting on a park bench while watching birds peck at a lump of chewing gum, which was disgusting enough to get me to move fairly sharply.

  • Called in at Working Links, who seem to be a council-sponsored organisation helping people to get back into work. You need to live in certain parts of town and come into a certain list of categories (unemployed for 12+ months, lack of basic skills, past offender, health problems etc.) and it took a little bit of jiggery-pokery for me to qualify on both counts. However, I have a feeling that they have slightly more resources than they know what to do with and are keen to help as many people as they can, so they have fixed up an appointment for 3pm on Monday. It may also have helped that I called down on a day when there were only about three people in a very large office and everyone had been let off early down to the pub.

  • Went to Hays Montrose Recruitment on the same floor of the same building. They shuttled me two floors downstairs to Hays Recruitment who deal with their admin/clerical/secretarial side. Hays Recruitment then claimed that I didn't really have the experience they were looking for (I made a little bit of a nuisance of myself on this front) and have shuttled me off to contacting Hays IT, whose most local branch is in Leeds. If Hays IT shuttle me off to Hays Falling Between The Gaps then I shall not be happy.

  • Called in at Adecco where I had dropped my CV off nine days ago. Nothin'. They'll call me. No extra forms to fill in or anything.

  • Called in at Randstad, dropped a CV off. They're mostly an industrial place, but they seemed to be happier to consider me when I pointed out that I had worked for British Steel for a year before university. Not expecting much from them, but they were at least quite polite about it.

  • Called in at Options. Virtually a carbon copy of Randstad.

  • Called in at Select, dropped a CV off. They tend to deal with secretarial, admin and clerical things. The woman there seemed happy enough to talk to me, but wasn't very keen on smiling. They claimed to have no jobs available, which was rather contrary to all the jobs they were advertising in their front window. Perhaps they had all gone earlier that day. (Seriously. They were offering a crash, no-notice "two days of counting traffic" position, but it had started a few hours previously and so I was obviously just too late in the day.)

  • Called in at Prime Time Recruitment. See Randstad three above. However, they did recommend T.A.B.S. of Stockton, which puts T.A.B.S. top of the "recommended by other recruiters" league at a whopping two nominations. That's pretty good, though. Prime Time also pointed me to...

  • Called in at Meridian Recruitment, as recommended by Prime Time, who do secretarial, admin etc. things and who seemed quite happy to take my CV. (Slightly worryingly, though, there were two people sitting there and filling in forms, though they didn't want me to fill in a form. Do these people just not have CVs?) Apparently January was very busy but February has been quiet.

  • Called in at JobCentrePlus, discussed my position and whether I was eligible for Jobseekers' Allowance. They have given me rather a fat wad of forms to fill in, most of which they say they don't really understand themselves; self-employed people possibly closing their business to look for full-time work and claim Jobseeker's Allowance is supposedly very rare. They also want me to bring in Articles of Association, two years of business accounts, business bank statements and so forth - plus it must all be printed out rather than on disc. That could be a laugh. I have an appointment for 3:45pm on Wednesday, but maybe I'll have found temp work by then and so have an excuse not to go.

  • Walked home, with fairly black thoughts, mostly about Working Links. Unhelpfully, the weather had finally become fairly overcast after what had been quite a pleasant early spring day. Forgot to call in at the University of Teesside Careers Services en route, but they would have been shut by then anyhow.

So, er, eleven recruitment agencies visited and three appointments for further discussion fixed up. All groundwork, indeed, but a decent amount of it. The next step is to actually submit my CV to online jobs-matching services, recruitment agencies and so forth, which I haven't yet done. This is also something that can be done in evenings and at weekends, so if I can get (say) ten done by Monday then I'll really be making progress. Have to confess that I'm fairly unimpressed with most of the recruitment agencies, and the agencies:jobs ratio seems to be nowhere near what you'd like. (Should we expect some, shall we say, rationalisation in the local agency sector soon?) Still no actual job applications written and no clearer idea about what jobs I'm actually going to apply for, but all steps in the right direction.

Have to confess that my point #5 last night about "is anyone off to see Chicago this weekend?" was mostly an affectionate tease (also see more about jet set zorac - have fun, you two!) but thanks for the recommendations all the same. In fact, the family have hired Ocean's Eleven which we'll watch later. Actually, I watched about a minute of it last night and overnight had an ace dream in which people were trying to pull off some sort of high-rise heist and did a really fantastic falling-long-distances stunt. (One of the characters looked like George Mason from 24.) Then the opening credits of the film, called "tyco" (maybe an abbreviation?) rolled at immense, clearly parody-speed, velocity. It was fab. Roll on the dream recorder!

London folks: irinaauthor and tabithajones are coming to visit the Big Smoke early next month. Any recommendations for "can't miss" restaurants? I've been to London twenty or thirty times and don't have any!
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: Where in the world is Carmen SanDiego? - Rockapella via Erin

(19 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 01:13 pm (UTC)
Am speechless with amazement at your activity. Go Chris!

Also, have added you to my friends list as I loff the London t00b, er Tube, er both. So anyway have admired your icons, though the Circle Line is not one of my favs.
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 05:42 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thanks for dropping by. I do like your icon, though it always reminds me of a cuckoo clock much more than it does a funhouse.

*wipes spectacles*
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 10:05 pm (UTC)
A couple of years ago some friends and I donated birdhouses we decorated to Habitat for Humanity to be sold & raise funds. This is that a friend made, we called it the Fun House because it has so many fun colors and things on it. I can see where you are coming from though.
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2003 12:44 pm (UTC)

missingdonut is involved with his local part of HfH as well.

*goes and looks at his web site to find out about it*
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2003 02:06 am (UTC)
Hehehe... thanks for the plug.

Now, let me know what online casino you want your fee plug deposited in :-P
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2003 09:39 am (UTC)
Anyone which will pay it right out again straight away would do just fine, thanks :-)
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 01:30 pm (UTC)

I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Well done! Good on you for being so pro-active. :D

Ocean's Eleven is an awesome movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perfect combination of spy-type suspense and humor. Have you ever seen Sneakers? It's a similar style of movie, not to mention the source of one of my favorite quotes (see subject line ;)). And the score music is great too, perhaps done by Danny Elfman? *runs to imdb.com* Whoops, nope, it was James Horner. My bad. Anyway, excellent movie, highly recommended.

Sorry I have no real recommendations for restaurants. There's a great Indian restaurant next to one of the UCL dorms, near the Googe St. Tube station, but I can't remember the name of it. Sorry. The food was yummy, and the service was great, since we went when the place was practically empty.

Glad you are enjoying the Rockapella! :D
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 05:46 pm (UTC)

Re: I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.


Two very entertaining movies. (That is, assuming that Sneakers is the one I think it is - SETEC ASTRONOMY and all that. I have seen that movie possibly four or five times, which probably puts it in my two or three most-viewed films.)

Still rockin'!
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 06:01 pm (UTC)

Re: I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Yepyep, that's the one. Yay! :D
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 01:39 pm (UTC)
While I would like to see Ocean's Eleven, I'm avoiding it on moral grounds. When that flim came out, it seems every web site I went to at the time has this irritating Flash animation ads that went on top of the content I was trying to view, and would not be easily disregarded. They wanted an ad that would leave an impression, and boy did it. I vowed never to give that movie any coverage besides negative.

But then again, maybe I'm just a big sourpuss. =P
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 05:47 pm (UTC)
That's an... imaginitive... reason to avoid a movie, but one I can have a lot of respect for. *salutes*
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2003 05:33 pm (UTC)

Evening summary

CVs distributed to recruiters: 0
"Ocean's Eleven" viewings: 1
Zero-to-ten ratings of same: ~8

Supper (banana, bread, biscuit), bed.
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2003 12:10 pm (UTC)
__ __ __ __
\ \ / / __ _ __ _ __ _ | \/ | __ _ _ __ ___ __ _
\ \ /\ / / / _` | / _` | / _` | | |\/| | / _` | | '_ ` _ \ / _` |
\ V V / | (_| | | (_| | | (_| | | | | | | (_| | | | | | | | | (_| |
\_/\_/ \__,_| \__, | \__,_| |_| |_| \__,_| |_| |_| |_| \__,_|

| | _ _ _ __ __ __ ___ _ _ ___ _ _
| | | | | | | '__| \ \ / / / _ \ | | | | / _ \ | | | |
| | | |_| | | | \ V / | __/ | |_| | | (_) | | |_| | _
|_| \__,_| |_| \_/ \___| \__, | \___/ \__,_| ( )
|___/ |/
_ ___ ___ _
| |_ / _ \ / _ \ | |__
| __| | | | | | | | | | '_ \
| |_ | |_| | | |_| | | |_) | _
\__| \___/ \___/ |_.__/ (_)
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2003 12:11 pm (UTC)
Now, that didn't work well to annoy you. Bad me. >:D
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2003 12:25 pm (UTC)
The <pre> tag is your friend.

 __        __                            __  __                             
 \ \      / /   __ _    __ _    __ _    |  \/  |   __ _   _ __ ___     __ _ 
  \ \ /\ / /   / _` |  / _` |  / _` |   | |\/| |  / _` | | '_ ` _ \   / _` |
   \ V  V /   | (_| | | (_| | | (_| |   | |  | | | (_| | | | | | | | | (_| |
    \_/\_/     \__,_|  \__, |  \__,_|   |_|  |_|  \__,_| |_| |_| |_|  \__,_|
_ | | _ _ _ __ __ __ ___ _ _ ___ _ _ | | | | | | | '__| \ \ / / / _ \ | | | | / _ \ | | | | | | | |_| | | | \ V / | __/ | |_| | | (_) | | |_| | _ |_| \__,_| |_| \_/ \___| \__, | \___/ \__,_| ( ) |___/ |/ _ ___ ___ _ | |_ / _ \ / _ \ | |__ | __| | | | | | | | | | '_ \ | |_ | |_| | | |_| | | |_) | _ \__| \___/ \___/ |_.__/ (_)

Yay! :-)
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2003 12:54 pm (UTC)
FWIW, Wagamama is a chain noodle bar about which I have heard very much good said. There are currently half a dozen branches in London, a few more round the country and a few more overseas.

I did enjoy a rather sniffy review which called it the Japanese Pret a Manger. I also enjoyed the description of Masala Zone which has been compared to an Indian version of WM. Sounds like a plan to me!
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2003 12:59 pm (UTC)
*nod* thanks! ^_~
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2003 01:03 pm (UTC)


Now I want to say Star Guest Gastronomer Russell Grant here, but I am happy to feature the thoughts of Puzzle Panel's very own David J. Bodycombe instead who is considerably nicer than Mr. Grant and doesn't have the same famously cheesy wink. The campaign to let David expand from Think Tank and take on some restaurant reviews for Metro starts here.

London has surprisingly few "memorable" restaurants that aren't exclusive and overpriced. My recommendations include:

Carluccio's (Italian) is cheap, cheerful and very very tasty. Another plus is that it's a turn-up-and-go affair, and you're never waiting long for a table. Can be noisy, though. Branches throughout London.

An expensive but extremely memorable Indian meal - very different from your usual takeaway fare - can be found at the Red Fort on Dean Street. They have a website. There is also a cool but friendly bar downstairs.

For something out of the ordinary, try Souk, a North African restaurant (cous cous, lamb sausages, that kind of thing) near Leicester Sq tube. The cellar area is unusual.

For an unusual and fairly cheap, homely meal, go for Ed's Diner on the corner of Moor Street and Old Compton Street. Serves cordon bleu burgers in an authentic 1960s chrome diner layout.

Poons (Chinese) - a few steps north up a street from Leicester Square. Do the world's best Singapore Noodles, according to Pete McCarthy, the world's #1 expert on the subject. Cheap and cheerful, but not that far removed from typical takeaway fare.

Silks and Spice (several branches, such as Foley Street) - fairly simple but authentic, traditional Thai cooking. Curry and sticky rice, that kind of thing.

Dish Dash (Goodge St.) - unusual Iranian-inspired restaurant. Luminescent lights embedded into the middle of every table give this a colourful and funky air. Superb starters consist of various "meze" (appetizers) and pitta breads from heaven. If that doesn't fill you up, try the various grown-up kebabs on offer.

Smollensky's on the Strand (duh, on the Strand) - has a wooden-and-Tiffany-glass Art Deco interior, like an old-style 1920s American saloon, is great in the evenings. Food is not great on the waistline but very American-friendly (chowder, steak sandwiches etc.) and substantial. Beware, turns into a kid's place at weekends.

So there you go!
Date:March 1st, 2003 06:31 pm (UTC)
Were I wearing a hat, I'd doff it to you in salute of your efforts. Since I'm not, I'll just bid you keep the faith. The right post will come for you in time.


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