October 2010


I had it all worked out. I was going to get to the venue early. I was going to make the barrier for sure. I had phoned ahead and been told I could book into my hotel early. I arrived in Birmingham a little ahead of schedule, and then – I got all turned around in the damn Pallisades and somehow ended up at the Bull Ring, which, as it turned out was exactly where I needed to be, but I only knew my bearings from New Street.

I wandered around aimlessly in Birmingham, land of no obvious street signs, looking for my hotel until I found myself back at New Street and jumped into a cab. I checked into my hotel fairly seamlessly, gave my phone a little more juice, freshened up, checked the route from hotel to venue, which looked pretty simple, and set off again.

Simple? No, once again, the land of no street signs, one way systems and subways beat me and I ended up losing another half an hour wandering around Birmingham until I found a cab stand and took that route again.

BrandonAs I arrived at the venue I saw Lindi and Rachel arriving also, and, despite my later-than hoped for arrival, I had a pretty good spot in the queue. I met up with the lovely Alice and we chatted with the other good folks around us, noticed the epic fail outside the venue (see picture), and then headed round of the back for the ritual greeting of Brandon.

BrandonHe came off the bus all smiles and again went down the line shaking hands as Jeremy gave his usual line that he would be out later to sign. This time I was ready with my camera and got a great pic of Brandon meeting his youngest fan.

We hung around the back for a while and listened to the soundcheck and then waited on the chance of Brandon coming back out again. There were a whole lot of people out there, and I was convinced Brandon would just be sneaked out of a quiet door again, like at Leeds, but it was fun chatting with some of the band members and crew, and other victims too.

Sideline here, there are three venues at the Birmingham O2 Academy, Brandon was in 1, and then there were two folks I’d never heard of (bad music fan) occupying the venues 2 & 3. Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars. Bruno Mars happened to have the number single that week and there were a lot of Bruno fan girls mixed up with the Brandon fangirls (and some who were both). This lead to some hilarious confusion where one set of screaming fan girls would run to one end of the venue, hearing that their boy had emerged, who would set off the other set of fan girls, who then thought it was an appearance by their boy. Then the whole thing would start off again in the other direction. Good times.

With all this going on, it wasn’t at all surprising that we saw Jeremy’s head poke round a door away from the crowds and shortly after Brandon emerge and disappear into a waiting taxi.

By this time the queue had moved and we were in the 02 Priority queue. There were three other separate queues. Those that had been waiting the longest were told they could continue to wait in the 02 queue even if they weren’t on 02, but that the doors for all queues (normal, balcony and ticket collection) would open at the same time. We all pretty much decided to stay where we were, as there were only maybe 10-15 people in that queue, and while all the doors were opening at the same time, the 02 priority door was nearer to the stage.

With a quick break to visit the Bull Ring toilets, where we ran (literally) into Jake and Matt on the way back, the rest of the day was spent queueing and soon it was time for doors opening, which they did, with disastrous results for those of us who had waited longest. The scanners weren’t working on our door and the people at the other doors (who hadn’t waited nearly as long) were allowed in first. Eventually they just let us in without scanning as I think they started to fear for their lives, so once again I missed out on my barrier spot and ended up in second row.

BrandonI was almost direct centre though, and while you would think this was a good view, Brandon does tend to sing to his left and also, to be fair, he ain’t much broader than the microphone stand, so when he was stood at it I had a slightly obscured view. It was nice to see the backing singers though and get a view from a different angle for a change.

BrandonIt’s really hard for me to decide on this or Brixton being my favourite performance. Brandon was in high spirits, full of smiles and bouncing all over the stage, it was a flawless performance and he was obviously feeling very comfortable and happy up there. The crowd gave back in spades, we all bounced off each other (sometimes literally) and the night was full of energy. I think the band is amping it up a little more with every show, it certainly felt a lot harder edged than the previous three shows I had seen. Maybe it’s that they’re growing in confidence, or becoming tighter as a band, whatever it is they’re doing, if it keeps up, by the end of the tour you Americans are gonna have your minds blown.

BrandonBrandon finished on a high, ending the acoustic When You Were Young sing-a-long with the words “I love you people” before leaving the stage.

Once more out into the cold, my friends, once more. At the back of the venue, I met up with Hailey and we once more started our vigil and tried to avoid the hysterically screaming Bruno Mars fans who were crowding around his bus and being very, very loud. This all lead to more Brandon/Bruno confusion, which to be honest, was all getting a little old by this point. Security soon came out and moved people away from the bus, creating a gap between the stage door and the bus door, and the rain started to come down. Undeterred the increasingly large crowd gathered and eventually Brandon came out.

We stayed well back as the excitable mob pressed against the security guards trying to get to Brandon, with cries of “Brandon, please, Brandon”. Despite the rain, Brandon stayed out for several minutes at both ends of the crowd signing as much as he could, then he fled to the safety and cover of the bus.

We decided to hold out for another, later emergence, mainly because I wanted to try and get a decent photo, and maybe say those things that I was too much in shock to say at Manchester.

While the rain and Brandon getting on the bus saw a good many people off, a braying mob stayed around the bus and pretty soon they became impatient, chanting Brandon’s name, banging on the bus, peering in and even trying to take photos though the bus windows. By this time we had already moved off to shelter from the rain and also to be a comfortable distance away from the bus. In Manchester the bus had been in a small parking area, a little way away from the road and the pavement. Here the bus was parked on the roadside, I felt uncomfortable being so close to what is essentially the band and crew’s home.

I thought the crowd in Leeds were bad, but at least I could in part understand their behaviour. Excitement can get the better of you. But banging on the bus? Peering through the windows? What exactly is this going to achieve? If someone bangs on your door and peers through your window in the middle of the night do you come out and take pictures with them? No, you call the police.

Shamefully, this behaviour wasn’t even limited to teenage girls, there was at least one grown man there. At this point, we were really just waiting for the rain to subside before we left, even if Brandon had come out, which we thought was highly unlikely, we didn’t want to be associated with these morons.

Eventually the driver came out and yelled at them all, and Torey came out to see what was going on. We were quite relieved that Torey had come out and seen that we were weren’t involved, but even so, we were ready to leave. A little later on, after most of those idiots had gone, Torey and Jake came out for a smoke, I approached them and apologised for the behavior they had had to put up with. They were really cool about it and shrugged it off saying they were used to it and they knew it was only a few people out of so many fans. It’s really not something you should have to get used to.

Shortly after this the rain subsided and we took the opportunity to leave, a few people remained, as doggedly determined as we had been in Manchester, I really hope they got their opportunity, but I haven’t heard anything about it.

It was another sad end to a brilliant night. I know I’ve talked about this a lot, but I have waited around the back to meet bands at a lot of gigs and I have never experienced this kind of behaviour, this kind of disrespect of the person that you are supposed to admire.

I’ve seen a few negative comments about Brandon not coming out to see the waiting fans, but really after the sort of behaviour he seems to have to put up with on a regular basis, is anyone surprised? I’m all for people giving back to their fans, I think it’s really important that they do, but they need to be able to do so in an environment that is safe and comfortable for them.

The Killers give back already, they have a fan club that not only provides a lovely community, but gives us special extras and little personal touches I’ve not seen elsewhere (though I don’t doubt they exist).

In my limited experience of Brandon, I feel that he (keeper of Morrisey’s tea cup) understands what it means to people to have a moment, take a picture, get an autograph, steal a tea cup, and, while he isn’t really comfortable with off stage encounters, he wants to give people those moments. I really hope that by the time he resumes his tour next month, those few people that ruin those moments for others, have learned it gets them nowhere.

A day of catching up on sleep and warmth, ranting about the Leeds incident and collecting Manchester tickets, then a day of itching to be back on the road and Saturday was here.

I arrived fairly early in the hope that the hotel would let me check in and I could start my day of queueing in the cold, knowing that, being a Saturday, the queue would build up quicker. The hotel were mean and wouldn’t let me check in until 12:00. Did they not know I had important sitting on the streets to do? Of course just before 12 a whole bunch of leery, beer-swilling, stag-doing, footballing men got there before me and so I was stuck behind them waiting for my room.

I finally got in there, quick change and freshen up and out again. I found the arena fairly easily (the already building queue outside was a giveaway). I found a couple of familiar faces, staked out the back of the venue, (one crew bus – check, one Brandon bus – check, one Fozzy bus – wait, what?), and then found myself a comfortable spot near the roadworks.

I found myself accidentally parked right next to one of my lovely Victims tweeps, and my very first Victim tweep (Heather) soon joined us. As two o’clock (standard Brandon emerging time) approached I headed to the back of the venue to say hi. I find it breaks the waiting up if you have a change of scenery for a while. Activity bustled by the bus and it wasn’t too long before the tight red jeaned and braced (I can’t bring myself to say suspenders here) vision appeared with huge smiles on his face, looking mighty dapper and pulling off those jeans as only Brandon can. Well, not pulling them off, pulling them off, but y’know, wearing them with panache! Sheesh.

He had a smile and a handshake for everyone (he touched me!) as he walked down the waiting queue into the venue for soundcheck. It was good enough for us and we giggled and squealed (he touched me!) our way back to the front of the venue to resume queuing.

At the half way point some of us ventured out on the trip to McDonalds we had been told was about a five to 10 minute walk away, not to eat the food you understand, purely to take advantage of their bathroom facilities. After walking some distance, and Heather nearly getting run over by a cyclist on the pavement, (they have cycle paths in Manchester, who knew?) we still saw no sign of a McDonalds, so found a Cafe Nero and took advantage of them instead. Heading back we saw the McDonalds almost opposite the venue. Epic toilet spotting fail.

Finally, 7pm grew nearer, the doors opened and we legged it to the barrier, didn’t quite make it, but did get a prime spot in the second row, just right of centre with a brilliant view, hence some rather great pics from this night.

BrandonBrandon

Brandon came out in what I think might be my favorite outfit, blank pants, white shirt (sleeves rolled right up), tiny black waistcoat, and to some incredible sound problems. They kicked off right from the start when, during the first song, the microphone exploded back at him (not literally you understand, just made a nice loud bang). Brandon was visibly shocked and jumped back with a curse before continuing as if he’d never left off. The problems continued throughout the set, and you could see the tiny perfectionist trying not to show his annoyance when Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts got off to two false starts.

BrandonBrandon

No disrespect to his backing band, and I suspect the problems were actually with the PA system at Manchester, but I remember thinking at the time, “this never happens with The Killers, they are way too tight”. Brandon gave it an extra, extra 20% percent to make up for it, and, despite the problems, the performance was brilliant. The set list got changed up a bit with Right Behind You being pulled for Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, which had been heard a couple of times on soundcheck but got it’s first ever full live airing the night before in Liverpool.

BrandonBrandon

Before going off, Brandon told us we were a wonderful audience and thanked us for bearing with them. Once again it was over way too soon.

After the show, Heather and I (and a whole lot of other people) headed round the back to see if we could catch him on his way out. There were a LOT of people hanging around the stage door, which had some barriers around it. We waited there for a while, and various members of the backing and support band came out for a smoke, but I soon noticed that the stage door was completely surrounded by barriers. There was no where for Brandon to get out. He wasn’t coming out of that entrance, so we made away further down the street to where the busses were waiting where there were also a lot of people huddled.

Sure enough, after about a half an hour, (during which time one of Transfer kept getting the people by the barriers to scream so we would think Brandon had come out) we were made aware that he had been bundled out of a side entrance and onto the bus, surrounded by security. This killed off a few of the people waiting round the bus, but the poor people waiting at the barriers had no idea, and remained there steadily for quite some time, believing he was still inside.

People steadily filtered away as it got later and later, and a core group of us were left, which is where I met the lovely Linzi and Hailey. We chatted and waited, and waited and chatted and shivered and huddled and waited and chatted until people slowly began to drop off and leave. We had heard on the grapevine that the bus was due to leave at 3am, and the longer we waited there, the more determined we got not to leave until the bus did, even though the weather had dropped into minus figures. Having waited so long, it would have been too much if we had left and then heard he came off the bus, and I really feel for those few soldiers that gave up just after 1am, because…

We were worn down, we had done with being cold and standing around, we were spread about a bit, mostly with our backs to the bus, but we couldn’t give up because then it would have been all for nothing, when suddenly, a noise was heard behind us, Hailey looked round and exclaimed “Oh my god, it’s the door..” Now for a good part of the night, various band members had come out for a smoke, so I personally was expecting to see Jake or Torey, cigarette in hand, but when I turned around, there in the the bus doorway was his pocket rock-star-ness, giggling away at us. It’s an image I will not soon forget and I am convinced that he had been watching us from the bus just waiting to come out when we least expected him. The big tease.

We walked over and, I think I was the first or the second to get there, and he came off the bus and held out his hand, his lovely warm hand, goddamn I was cold. But it didn’t matter cos he shook my hand and then we all just kinda stood and stared at him, in too much shock and thaw to do much else. He looked back at us and said, “So, did you want me to sign something or…” Oh yeah, we knew there was a point to us standing around in the cold for 3 hours. We fumbled in our bags for signable stuff and cameras and he stood and signed and took pictures making sure everyone there got what they needed, and then it was over.

Unfortunately, I only had my iPhone 3gs with me, with no flash so my picture didn’t come out so well. I thought the light from the bus would be enough, and was too much in shock to think to ask to borrow someone’s camera, and then when I thought of it, I was too polite to ask for another picture. The main thing is, I know I got to meet Brandon Flowers, and I stood beside him, and he smiled. I’ve managed to lighten the picture enough so that the evidence is there, but I think it will be a long, long way into my senility before I forget that night. One to tell the grandkids I won’t be having.

Brandon

I also made two great new friends, Hailey and Linzi, we bonded in the cold, I know they’ll stick by me through the pneumonia, and we will meet many more times under similar circumstances.

After an awesome night in Glasgow I rose early for journey back down to Leeds, got home fairly uneventfully, had the fastest shower and change in the west and headed back out. I arrived at the venue at around two, and had just missed Brandon arriving where he had signed stuff and took pictures. He had said he was coming back out so I hung around the back for about an hour and a half, chatting with security, some of the crew and the support band, until I saw them sneak him out another door and whisk him away in a car. Damn them and their sneakyness.

I did get to hear him soundchecking Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas (which isn’t part of the set list), Crossfire and Only The Young, which made it all worthwhile.

I wasn’t gonna wait until he came back and miss the chance for a good place at the front, so I joined the already growing line. Here I met the lovely Natalie and her Aunt who were just a few places ahead of me, shivered in the cold a lot and eventually made it to the second row in about the same place I was the night before.

It wasn’t too long before Brandon was once more strutting his stuff in front of me once more. The crowd were…. um, let’s just say a less mature one than in Glasgow, there was a lot of hysterical screaming. At one point, where he explains the song, Magdalena, there was one girl just screaming his name over and over, I thought she may be have been genuinely having some kind of fit, or need medical attention in some way. He cut the explanation short and just launched into the song.

Although he smiled when the crowd were screaming, he was a lot less talkative than in Glasgow, just belting out song after song and he didn’t come to the front of the stage nearly as much. I think he was maybe a little scared of the crowd. Still, the songs were amazing and the sound was so much better than in Glasgow, we got the snap dance during Only The Young (no one in the crowd did it though, you’re letting our boy down, Victims) and he played The Clock Was Ticking for the encore, which I don’t think he expected the crowd to know. Silly Brandon. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much screaming during When You Were Young acoustic (I loved the introduction where he explained to the crowd that he was the lead singer of The Killers, no really?), at least for the singing parts, and once more it was over way, way too soon. I’ve definitely been spoiled by The Killers almost two hour set, harder to pull that off when you only have one album out.

I managed to grab the t-shirt I wanted, and headed out back to see if I could get a photo. By the time I got there, there was a large crowd already gathered and I debated on whether to bother waiting or not. I waited for about an hour, and the crowd only seemed to get larger and the support band were out getting a lot of reflected attention.

I should explain here that the gig had to finish early (10pm), because the Academy have a student club night on a Wednesday, which would account for more people being able to wait. After about an hour I overheard the manager come out and start complaining that his staff were being held up because of the people waiting for Brandon and he needed them for his club night. Shortly after this, the barriers were taken away from the stage door and the security disappeared. The rumour was that Brandon would not come out until 3am when the club was finished. I didn’t believe it for one minute, but decided to leave anyway, there were far too many people and I was tired and hungry as I hadn’t eaten since 8 that morning. I had got my autograph at Glasgow and I have two more chances to meet him still.

I got home to lovely, lovely pizza, carefully hand ordered by hubby who had come straight home after the gig as he is working today.

I also got home to the news that Brandon had come out and been mobbed by the crowd to the point where he had been pushed and pulled about. Ack, I’m still finding it hard to keep my cool about this, but I will try and write rationally.

It has really angered me, not so much that the fans would do this, people get excited and everyone wants to get their 30 seconds. I understand that. What they don’t understand of course, is that if they stood back and let him breathe, they might just get their chance. If they mob him and make him feel uncomfortable, he’s just going to leave, and next time…. well there won’t be a next time. But I get that they are young and excitable and it’s not entirely their fault.

The fault, in my mind, lies squarely at the feet of the 02 Academy. Brandon might not be a huge star in the same way that Britney Spears or Lady Gaga is, but The Killers are one of the biggest bands in the world, right now and he has a lot of passionate, passionate fans. He doesn’t travel with a posse of hefty security guards, he keeps things fairly low key. From what I have learned in the last couple of days, he likes to come out and spend a little time with fans, goes a little out of his way to do so, he understands what it’s like to meet your heroes, to be passionate about music.

I get that the 02 isn’t really used to hosting acts as popular as Brandon, it’s a small venue, usually used by up and coming or lesser known bands. Still, you know who you’re booking, if you don’t have the staff to cope with it, you hire more for the night, or you don’t book a band on the same night as your club night.

Taking the security and barriers away was a stupid, stupid thing to do, and I am really, really angry about it. It’s worse because it happened in my town. I’m angry that I live amongst people that would let this happen. I hate that Brandon might now feel he has to have more security, that he can’t come out and talk to people. It’s tainted the memory of the gig for me, and I’m so glad I did not stay around to witness it.

To end on a happier note, I did get to meet a couple of lovely Victims while waiting outside, again I didn’t get names, damnit, and also ran into Rachel and her mum, which was lovely.

Next up, Manchester on Saturday.

Waking up on uber-giddy mode I hit the gym early and got back home in time for a quick shower and a pre final ticket check, before heading to the train station. Being the paranoid type I had to check my tickets once again before setting off, and for once it paid off, a gaping hole had appeared in the section of my bag where I keep my tickets. Phew.

The first part of the journey was uneventful enough, but on getting to Preston, some inconsiderate bastard had decided to throw himself under a train causing delays all across the network. To cap it all, when I got to my seat, some old hag and taken it upon herself to ignore the “reserved” sign and avail herself of my it. The seat next to her was empty, and she was elderly so I was nice enough to not throw her out, even though it meant I wasn’t at the seat with the plug so I couldn’t use my laptop.

So I got myself settled in and she tutted and started complaining to her husband who was putting away the bags that I had taken his seat! I pointed out the reserved sign and my ticket which shut her up.

We travelled through the gorgeous but mostly 3G-less scenery and I found myself in Glasgow a half hour after I should have been. Here I met up with my host, after telling him I was waiting by the station bar, only for him to point out there were four! Well, was in Scotland after all. After a brief stop to drop my stuff off and freshen up, we headed out to meet Amy and Fiona for dinner (my first and only meal of the day) and drinks.

The next morning I awoke at 6am after only 4 hours sleep, but soon drifted back off to an assortment of very vivid dreams in which I missed the gig in every way possible and Grant had various combinations of cats!

My alarm roused me and I was up, ready and in Glasgow for about 11:30 where I went looking for coffee, food, sharpies and a toilet! Having found all four I headed to the 02 about three quarters of an hour after I had wanted to be there. A queue had already formed, and I took my place and was soon chatting away with some fellow victims.

Shortly after I got there, the Brandon bus arrived to much excitement and we all ran around the back of the venue to say hi. He got off the bus wearing my favourite hoody under denim jacket outfit (I like my men casual), looking gorgeous, gave us a wave and a smile and headed straight into the venue, and we went back to join the queue, which looked to have diminished somewhat. After about an hour and a half we learnt why. Some of the queue had stayed round the back and were rewarded with a brief appearance from Brandon where he took pictures and signed autographs.

The excitement over we settled in for the long, cold wait in one of the less enchanting areas of Glasgow, passed repeatedly by more and more drunken Scotland supporters as there was a game against Spain that day.

We broke the boredom, and warmed ourselves with a trip to McDonald to use the toilets at around four and then the excitement and countdown to doors opening began.

At this point I’d like to give a shout out to my new Scottish Victim buddies who shared my little spot of shivering, April and Aillie (which is so not how you spell her name but it involves d’s and g’s and would only confuse you all). Sorry I never got to say goodbye, it was awesome to meet you.

As the time for doors opening got nearer and nearer the shutters were opened and we stared menacingly at security in the cold, while they started menacingly back at us from the warmth. Finally they let us in and we made a dash for the barrier amidst shouts for us to take is slowly. Bollocks to taking it slowly, I waited almost 6 hours in the cold, I’m not having my barrier spot gazumped by someone who just got there.

I just made it to the barrier, to the right side (Brandon’s left), just shy of the speakers and the second, much warmer, wait began. The excitement built as the dry ice poured out, the lights dimmed and support band, Transfer, came on. They came out with two brilliant songs, but the rest was really quite mediocre and they were very, very loud. The sound system at Glasgow 02 is nowhere near as good as the one at Leeds, the music was often distorted, especially from my position so near the speakers, which I’ve never experienced at Leeds.

Transfer were soon done and Brandon didn’t keep us waiting too long. The crowd went wild, their 2 thousand strong roar as he took the stage could rival any 20,000 stadium cheer and then some. I have to admit, by this time the built up excitement and anticipation and waiting had got to me and I actually screamed, yes screamed as appeared so damn near in front of me. Never in my life and all that.

The crowd were fantastic and Brandon had a huge grin on his face as we all sang On the Floor back to him, definitely one of the best atmospheres I have experienced at a gig, and I know Leeds will be a little disappointing after that, cos they’re usually quite a reserved crowd there. Brandon and his band belted out those little songs, the quieter songs were amped up and they really pumped out those rockier ones.

Brandon was in his element, strutting around the stage, standing on the amps, and clambering up onto boxes placed at either side of the stage for that very purpose. His enthusiasm on stage is infectious and it’s a joy to see how much he loves it up there, it’s not cocky or egocentric, just a pure love of what he does and pleasure in giving pleasure. He’s a crowd pleaser for sure and it was his performance on stage (and the energy the whole band put in) that lead to my Killers obsession in the first place. Damn you Brandon.

I caught his eye a couple of times as he scanned the crowd and was blessed with a grin as I gleefully sang his words back at him.. My spot seemed to be a good one as he seemed to gravitate more to that side, as the backing singers were on the other side, and during Swallow It, he knelt right in front of me as he sang the chorus, oh hell yeah!

It was over all too soon and he came out for the encore to play the acoustic version of When You Were Young, which is just amazing as 2000 people can be heard singing in unison with Brandon’s delicious voice on this slowed down version of one of the Killers’ more aggressive songs. A little different from when its The Killers last song, but it’s up there with the crowd singing “I got Soul” during All These Things That I’ve Done.

The Clock Was A Tickin’ was on the set list for the encore, but he missed it out, probably because of time, the support band were quite late coming on.

As the lights came back on I headed for the toilet, but the security would not let us use it and I couldn’t find the merchandise store, so it was back out in the cold and another wait outside. I made straight for the back, where a group of us gathered to wait patiently and ignore security telling us he wasn’t coming out. Yeah right, the bus is right there dudes, how’s he gonna get to it, teleport?

After about an hour and a half we were rewarded as he came out and spent a minute or so with the few of us that were left. There wasn’t the time for everyone to get a picture, or even a chat as he was soon whisked away, but I got my CD signed and was in the presence of awesome for a minute. Good enough for me, until tonight anyway.

I met some lovely, lovely people outside that night, all really chatty and friendly, special shout out to Becky and her awesome pink flamingo feathers dress and the lovely couple who flagged down a taxi for me. I didn’t get the rest of your names, but this English foreigner was made to feel very welcome up there in Scotland and I’d pick there over London for another gig any day.

My job situation at the moment is precarious and uncertain, as is the same for so many people at the moment.

The government are once again cutting the budget for essential services, meaning we will all see a reduction in services, and an increase in our taxes, of course.

As part of this, my company are having to cut 25% of their budget, whilst they are looking to find savings in other ways, the biggest expenses are always employees. Before this announcement my department was already going through a reorganisation process, probably in anticipation of having to make savings.

Having crunched the numbers, they have decided that there are 42 employees too many who are trained and paid for my role. Thirty two of these people are currently not doing my role as their full time job, but as they are trained to do it, and being paid in accordance with that training, they are included in the pot of potential employees/redundancy fodder.

This of course means that there will be 32 vacancies in the other, lesser paid role, leaving 10 people who will definitely be without a job.

To decide who will/will not get a job they have devised a matrix which gives/deducts a number points to/from each employee depending on various factors like sick record, performance, willingness to travel, length of service etc.

Based on the draft matrix that has been released by the unions, I fall somewhere just above halfway, along with probably the majority of other employees. The one thing that lets me down is the “willingness to travel” part, which is a black and white, you are willing to travel anywhere within the region, or you are not willing to travel at all.

While I am willing to travel some distance, the fact that I do not drive, and my working hours fall at unsociable hours when there is no public transport, means that I cannot say I am willing to travel anywhere within the region. This probably puts me at the bottom of average, with only those who have an incredibly bad sick record and/or a disciplinary record below me, and therefore in what I call “redundancy fodder”.

Which brings us back to those 32 vacancies. Those who find themselves in the bottom 42, and therefore, with a 90-day redundancy notice, will be invited to “apply” for any role that becomes available and matches their skills. Those 32 vacancies are in a job that I loathe, in a location that is probably the furthest away of all the possibilities, and will include a pay cut a well as additional travel costs. Even if they would agree to change my hours so I could get public transport, it would be a 2 to 2 and a half hour commute each way, on top of a 10 hour working day. Oh and did I mention that that role will also soon be subject to a re-organisation where I may find myself once again looking at redundancy, only this time on a lower pay grade.

Those who don’t get another job within the 90 days, will be made redundant.

There is of course the chance that I scrape in just higher than the 42 lowest scoring people. The lucky people not facing redundancy then have to give three choices of location they would like to be re-organised to. Again, the matrix comes into play and those scoring the highest will be given their first choices, those at the bottom of the barrel (me) will be given what’s left, even if it wasn’t one of their three choices. Which again leaves me with the possibility of having anything up to a two and a half hour commute to work, and a large taxi fare back from work.

Of course, you say, I could learn to drive and get a car, problem solved. Except:

Last year I made the poor, poor decision to go part-time, seemed like the right thing to do at the time and it was open for me to come back full time after 12 months. However, I was given incorrect information on what my part-time wage would be and accepted inconvenient hours based on this information. It wasn’t until I returned to work that I discovered I was taking a much larger pay cut than I could afford, and by then it was too late. Of course it was only supposed to be for a year, but so much changed in that year, and now, with the threat of redundancies, I am unable to go back full time, or even change my hours to something more convenient.

So here I am, just about scraping by, finding myself in a larger amount of debt than I would like, and no way on this earth of affording to run a car, let alone buy one.

So that leaves me not knowing which to hope for. To be included in those who keep their job, but end up in an inconvenient and expensive location which I would have to leave anyway, or to be redundancy-fodder and take the money and run.

Whilst I am fairly confident of getting another job within customer services quite easily, I have a wealth of experience and am probably over-qualified for most customer services jobs. However, the jobs that I am seeing that fit within that experience are £5-10k less that what I am earning now, which is on top of the £5k pay cut I already took when I went part time. At least taking another job would pay off some of my debt and leave me with a few more options open.

And now I come to the end of my ramble. Those who know me from Twitter and have bothered to read this far, will know I always start with the worst-case scenario and work up from there. Sometimes Usually I will let a despairing rant slip while I am still in worse-case scenario mode. Following that model, the end of the story is thus.

There is a slim chance that I will get the location I want, keep my job, get a full-time position, pay off my debts, and carry on with my life as I planned it before the world came tumbling down on me eight years ago. A slim chance, but it’s a chance, and I guess this is what I need to hope for. While that chance is there, I do still have to be prepared for the worst.

Whilst preparing for the worst, I’m also trying to look at this as an opportunity, a chance to do some of things I didn’t get to do whilst I was too busy earning a living, something that will make up for the fact that circumstances have washed many of my dreams away. Working abroad is one of those things, and whilst the huge weight of debt that still somehow has to be paid while I am gallivanting around the world is still hovering around my right shoulder, the huge weight of my ever-increasing age, and doing something adventurous while I still can is bouncing on my left shoulder whispering seductively in my ear.

The right side says, pay off your debt and take your adventure in five years time, the left side says, screw it all, the debt will still be there when you get back, and if you get stuck in another job, you’ll never take the opportunity.

Whichever side wins out, it’s sure nice to have a dream again, even if it’s an unnattainable one, ‘cos, “Sometimes dreams are all you got to keep you going when the day gets long.” – Brandon Flowers, The Clock it was a Tickin’

I’m not entirely sure how he’s doing it, as he is 11 years my junior, way deep into his faith and pretty much living the dream right now, but Brandon Flowers seems to be able to express how I’m feeling a little too well in his lyric, right now.

Of course, my interpretation of them and their meaning to me are probably extremely different from what he intended when he wrote them, in the same way that what I am going through is extremely different from what he has been through. That’s what I love about music, when the lyrics are good they can have so much meaning to so many people, each of whom put their own spin on it, and I thank Brandon heartily for refusing to explain the songs meanings and ruining them for me, and others. That’s a man who understands what music means to people.

Many snatches of his lyrics have spoken to me over the years. Most notably from Bling, Confessions of a King – “How do you know that you’re right, if you’re not nervous any more.” This River is Wild is beautiful in it’s entirety. More recently, from Flamingo in Playing With Fire he sings “This church of mine may not be recognised by steeple, but that does not mean that I will walk without a God.” And I might not get there, but this little house, this little town seem to be leaning in the wrong direction” Which are so poignant and holds incredible meaning for me.

Also from Flamingo, Only The Young, is like a great big snuggly blanket that explains exactly how I’m feeling, let’s me sob into it’s folds, gives me a back rub and a little bit of hope.

Look back in silence
The cradle of your whole life
There in the distance
Losing it’s greatest prize

Nothing is easy
Nothing is sacred, why
Where did the bough break
It happened before your time

And there were people there
Lovely as you’d ever care, tonight
Baby you can start again
laughing in the open air
Have yourself another dream, tonight
Maybe we can start again

Only the young can break away break away
Lost when the wind blows, on your own, oh

Only the young can break away break away
Lost when the wind blows, on your own, oh

Mother it’s cold here
Father thy will be done
Thunder and lightening
Are crashing down
They got me on the run
Direct me to the sun

Redemption keep my covers clean, tonight
Baby we can start again

Only the young can break away break away
Lost when the wind blows, on your own, oh

Only the young can break away break away
Lost when the wind blow, on your own, oh

And the sun will shine again
And the sun will shine again
Are you looking for the sign
Or are you caught up in the line

Only the young can break away break away
Lost when the wind blows, on your own, oh

Only the young can break away break away
Lost when the wind blow, on your own, oh

Keep ’em coming Brandon, or I might have to start writing my own, and no one wants to go down that road.

A man came home a little the worse for wear this evening, and found he had misplaced his keys. The logical solution was to ring the police to help him break into his house. They obliged, despite it being a rather busy Friday night.

Some time later he realises that he has a broken window, which will need to be fixed. The logical solution was to ring the police and report a burglary. When questioned as to whether he was indeed the same person that they just helped to break into his own house, he fully admits this but, you see, he needs a crime number so the housing association will come and fix his window.

I honour this man with the title World’s Worst Insurance Fraud.

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