Mass Observation 2015

The following post is my submission to the Mass Observation call for 2015. You can read more about it here: http://www.massobs.org.uk/12may. I have edited it for some ‘sensitive’ material that could offend some people.

12th May, 2015.

I am 32 (and a half), male and I live in Wallasey, Merseyside. I am married with two young boys (toddlers, really). I am a fiction writer (although I have no published work of which to speak), writing sci-fi, mainly. I have written some very short stories (‘flash fiction’) and I am currently writing a novel. To pay the bills, I work as a Supervisor for a team of Support Workers, helping adults with learning disabilities to find and maintain employment. The work is nice and can be rewarding but it does not pay well. If I am honest with myself, I hope my wife can find a well-paid, permanent job so that she can fund my writing and I do not have to work a day-job to pay for anything. I have a degree in Sociology with Theology and Religious Studies and a PGCE in Secondary RE. I taught for a year and it never really agreed with me (chiefly, I suspect, because I was not that good at it).

Today was a pretty normal day for me. I woke up at 7am, having not slept well. My two sons woke up at about the same time so it was all go from the moment I opened my bedroom door (although my wife was blissfully oblivious to it all until about 8am). I gave the kids some dry cheerios and half a banana each for breakfast. The eldest had a cup of orange juice (pure but diluted with water) and the youngest had a beaker of milk.

As usual, I didn’t eat breakfast. I know I’m supposed to but I spend the mornings rushing around after the boys so rarely sit down to eat with them before school or work. I dressed the boys when they had finished eating, then dressed myself for work.

My job is fairly professional so I have to wear a shirt, trousers and smart shoes. The shoes are a problem for me, lately, as my right foot has been hurting when I walk and the hard sole is particularly painful against what feels like a bruised heel (I moan and complain a lot. You may notice).

I woke my wife at 8am and left for work, leaving her to take the eldest boy to school. At midday, she will pick him up and take both boys to a nursery/pre-school whilst she goes to work (she has a temporary job at the moment). We both drive so she took one car and I took the other.

I got to work at about 9:00am. My boss was not in so I could have stopped off at the Home Bargains on my way in to buy a flapjack for breakfast (as I will often do; they’re only 30p and really fill me up). As it was, I went hungry until lunchtime. I spent my morning going over paperwork and preparing for work that I will do later in the week. I know I have tomorrow off (to look after the boys when my wife is in work) so I had to prep this stuff today. I work with a lot of people but usually only see my father-in-law (who does the same job as me), a third Supervisor and our boss.

By dinner-time, I had had three cups of tea (milk, no sugar). For dinner, I had a Pot Noodle (Bombay Bad Boy: I like spicy food). I have an hour for dinner on Tuesdays so I walked across the road to the Home Bargains to buy some chocolate to snack on before continuing to work.

In the afternoon, I made sure I was all ready for Thursday’s work and made some phone calls to employers and Support Workers. I finish early on Tuesdays (I normally work regular office hours) as I have been learning British Sign Language. My Level One course runs from 4pm so I have to leave the office at 3:40pm to get there. I still arrived late at the course as a road had been blocked by the Police because of a fire in a tower block of flats so I had to change my route.

At the course, I had to sign the “Rainbow Song” (“Red and Yellow and Pink and green…”) before learning some new signs. I think I’m getting good at it but the exam will tell and that’s not until July. I was at the course until 6pm and gave a colleague from work (who is attending the course as well) a lift home before heading home, myself. I have to head through the Kingsway Tunnel to get home and there’s a £1.70 toll. It’s tantamount to a tax on living in Wirral as the two Mersey Tunnels are the only direct routes into Liverpool.

Whenever I think about this, now (essentially every time I use the tunnel), I think about the Tory government pledging to review the tunnel toll. They won the General Election, last week and have immediately set about a Thatcherite wet-dream of a programme of cuts to welfare and public services as well as proposing changes to workers’ rights and business legislation. As someone who works in employment services for people with disabilities, these things worry me for personal and professional reasons. I read a story about the new Tory Business Secretary who is driving these changes and linked to it on Facebook and Twitter with a statement about how dangerous I think the man is. I don’t have a big following on either platform but every little helps.

I got home at about 6:30pm and had a wash and change of clothes before getting the boys ready for bed. They were in bed for 7:30pm and the youngest was the last to go to sleep at 8pm. He usually will not settle unless I’m lying next to him so I could not eat until 8pm. I normally go to bed between 10pm and 11pm so do not like to eat anything heavy in the evening. Despite this, I had eaten so little through the day that I had a big crisp butty (chilli Doritos between two slices of medium bread) and a cup of tea. I watched Barcelona beat Bayern Munich in the Champions’ League (I support Liverpool so have had to get my footballing enjoyment from elsewhere, this season) before getting an early night. I went to bed at 9:30pm where, apparently, my wife decided to paint one of my fingernails purple whilst I slept.

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