Friday, November 21, 2008


Close Up Of Chandelier CurtainThe shopping mall behemoth that is Westfield recently opened down the road from me and the wifey and I were there on the first day (woo hoo.)

Now, I've been there so many times, mainly because it's the only thing open after eight PM anywhere near me, that the initial excitement over having a mammoth shopping centre almost on my doorstep has now long gone.

When I was little I learned to ride a bicycle on a massive hill in the local park by me in Ealing. Years later I returned and was rather dismayed to discover that the mountain on which I had so many fun times was in fact barely even a gentle slope.

Christmas baubles reflecting under a lit treeGoing to Westfield, now feels like that. It's big, granted, but nowhere near as big as it seemed when it had yet to be explored.

It's still darn handy though but why, oh why are there no specialist electronic or photography stores? If you want fashion then Westfield offers a big range (though not a full range - you still need to go to the dept stores on Oxford Street for that) but if you want gadgets, TVs, cameras, a Currys or anything like that, then forget it.

Annoyingly W H Smith, which I love as an avid reader of many magazines, is diametrically opposite to the entrance through which I normally enter the centre. M & S is also a fair way in on the opposite side so it's still more convenient to go to Ealing for that staple of my diet.

Initially a lot of shops were also not open and to be honest quite a few still aren't. In particular, the restaurants outside the centre look woefully shuttered up waiting for their occupants to move in eventually.

Tree lit up with hundreds of little LEDsOn a more positive note, the lack of seats that I, and I know a lot of other people complained about, is less of an issue as stylish bum rests have popped up all over the place now. So my memories of knackered feet on the first few visits and having to sit on the ground should now be banished.

Oh, and wandering around Westfield at an hour before closing time is actually quite a pleasant experience compared to those initial opening days and every weekend when the place absolutely crams out and you can't walk in a straight line for more that 3 meters.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lightning strikes again

Well, it only went and happened again.

Things have been going well at work. Though initially tough, I was actually starting to enjoy my new role. One of my projects made it's first deliverables deadline last Monday and everyone was very happy. I'd done a lot of work to push things through with my team and it had been and excellent job all round by everyone.

My other project was delivering to schedule too. The development team had won a company award for achievement and we all went out for a nice meal to celebrate on Thursday night. It was nice to sit down, relax and socialise with those I'd seen sweating blood and tears to get things done and find out a lot more about the people behind the hard work.

Back in the office, I was just putting the final touches to my future planning when a bombshell struck.

My company was going through its annual appraisals process. I'd only been there coming up to six months but had still been set a number of goals some of which I'd met, some of which were no longer relevant and some of which I had room for improvement on.

I'd put in a few hours writing up notes preparing for the meeting and was rather dismayed to find my manager moving it back a week to the morning of the Thursday that we were all going out and then to the evening of the Thursday that we were all going out and then to the Friday morning after (deadline day for the whole feedback process.)

Perhaps what I'd thought would be a serious evaluation would just be a quick "let's just get this over with" job.

Nevertheless, what happened at 9am on Friday morning still came as a shock.

"I'm afraid it's bad news" my manager told me as soon as we started.

Alarm bells started ringing. Flashbacks to earlier in the year and nine years previous burst into my head.

"We don't think that you're the type of person we were looking for when we employed you here," he carried on, "This explains everything that'll happen now," he said as he handed me a sealed envelope and tried to end the conversation then and there.

"What went wrong?" I asked bemused, stunned and shocked. "My projects are running fine and delivering on time....What has happened to bring this about?"

"I can't go into detail. I just don't think it's working out," is all he would say.

"Can you give me any examples of where you think things haven't gone right? Why have I never received any negative feedback to indicate that this was going to happen. Isn't this the whole point of the appraisal process?" were just a few questions I asked.

He couldn't or wouldn't answer any of them.

I pushed a bit further and he finally said "I can contact you to meet up and give you feedback next week outside of work," and I had to be content with that.

So the HR person came down, I packed up my stuff and walked out. A girl in my team had tears in her eyes when she found out, everyone else thought that I was joking until they saw the serious look on my face.

And that was that. I am unemployed once more.

I walked past the Evening Standard vendor's stand down the road with the previous day's headline still "UNEMPLOYMENT IN LONDON REACHES RECORD HIGHS" and I realised that I was now just another statistic.

When I got home, deflated, I realised that I'd left my suit jacket in the office on the coat rack and a pair of trousers in the local dry cleaners to boot. *sigh*

Livf goes on I guess, and whilst positive things are also happening (happily married, starting to learn to drive), this sure as hell isn't plain sailing for me at the moment.