Friday saw me sorting out some bits and pieces at the local council - as always that takes forever - council efficiency and speed of service is unheard of. Pity when you consider how much they charge for their "services". But that's another story I guess. So I lost some of my day because of the council which kind of put paid to any progress on "Soundtrack For City Living", but no problem as I managed to get a fair bit of photographic processing done over the course of the rest of the day.
Today I have been helping my dear lady Anne prepare for an open day next weekend - she does voluntary work for a wonderful wildbird sanctuary called "Wing and a Prayer Haven". They do excellent work taking care of sick/injured wildbirds - everything from pidgeons to gold finches and all other "liddle boidies" inbetween. I'll be helping Anne again next week man the "bric-a-brac" stall.
This evning I have been happily processing more pictures from the Lincolnshire explore I did last Sunday with my good friend Keith. We visited Nocton Hall and R.A.F. Nocton as well as Nettleham Hall. These are two place I intend to return to later in the year.
Tomorrow, Anne and I are heading to the North Norfolk coast for a photographic trip along the beach. Should be a nice day out - it always is with Anne :-)
This week will see the last bits of recording needed for the third Geigertek album, "Soundtrack For City Living".
Tomorrow I will be recording the last set of vocals for "Devil May Care" and "Underpass" as well as resolving a bridge issue on a track called "West 9" and some drum loop niggles on the album's opening track, "Beyond The Garden".
A good day. And why? Well it's because I now have the final seven tracks that will form the body of the third Geigertek album "Soundtrack For City Living". All that remains now is for some vocals to be recorded and final production stuff such as EQ-ing, volume levels etc.
The anticipated track listing and order, though not finalised at this stage, is as follows:
1. Beyond The Garden
2. A Rainfall Moment
4. Devil May Care
5. Beauty In Decay
6. West 9
7. Fast Lane
All being well, everything should be done by the end of this week.
The album has a very chilled-out feel to it apart from the last track "Fast Lane" which is very up tempo and basically loud. I premiered a version of this track at the recent Bungay Bash and it was very well received.
There will be some guest musicians including Code Indigo's Nigel Turner-Heffer on guitar and some keyboard work by David Wright (playing the awesome Omnisphere synthesizer). I also have two lady guests on vocals.
Anyone who is familiar with my work will see a significant departure from the first Geigertekalbums. "Soundtrack For City Living" has a more free and relaxed sound to it, to me it portrays a feeling of calm within the hustle and bustle of the modern city. One of the tracks, "Beauty In Decay", came about through my activities as an Urban Explorer, again, I hope I will have captured the sense of latent beauty within a derelict and decaying environment.
Still work to be done as I need to polish the rough edges, but I'm hoping that the end product will put itself at a new level as a result.
As always, "Soundtrack For City Living" will be released by AD Music :-)
I'm sort of back to work. I say sort of because I've decided to go down the self-employed route again, even though it was the self-employed route that got me into the unemployed cul-de-sac in the first place. "So why do it?" I hear you ask. And a good question, for which there is a perfectly logical answer.
I was in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance, a nominal amount of money from the government on a weekly basis, on the understanding that you are actively looking for work, and providing evidence of the same. Fair enough. For the first six months, I looked, I applied and I proved. Then at the six month point, my money suddenly stopped. I queried and it was because I was on contribution-based Job Seekers Allowance and that had run out, I now had to apply for income-based Job Seekers Allowance. As my dear other half works, I had to provide details of her income, and rightly so. The shock was that although she is on a very low income, because she works more than 30 hours a week, I lost entitlement to payments. "Oh shit" we thought. So, I applied for the income-based JSA so that my stamp would be paid and the whole "look for work, apply for work and then prove it" merry-go-round started again. We applied for and got both Housing Benefit and Tax Credits. Kind of okay, but the lack of income has had certain consequences, as it has for countless millions in this country.
So, I hit the 12 months unemployed mark, and I thought, "great, I'll be elligible for re-training!!". Marvellous, or so I thought. I had an idea of perhaps having the opportunity to learn a new trade, electrician, plumbing that sort of thing. It had been my understanding that this was what was offered to you. So, I go into the local Job Centre and sat down with the pretty girl behind the desk and started the process of "exploring my options" on the jolly old training front. It was very soon smashed to pieces with no hope of anything. The before I went to "look at my options", the government had scrapped ALL training programs for the long-term unemployed. No, let me re-phrase that: withdrawn funding. Great. So here I was, watching the chance to become a "sparky" drifting away and being told the best I could expect was to attend sessions provided by a third-party provider on how to improve my C.V. (which the Job Centre had done countless times in the last 12 months) and go to ANY work placements they were to offer. What a fantastic prospect. Not. I then get a reprimand off of a fresh-faced twat because I forgot to take in my written account of what work I had been looking for - he was threatening to stop my payments so I told him to go ahead - he looked a twat when he saw that I wasn't actually receiving any money. And then the provider got in contact. They said I had to attend a "self-employed" course and they were most surprised when I asked them why. "Because you told the Job Centre that's what you wanted to do". I told them actually, no I didn't because it was being self-employed that got me unemployed and I wanted to be permanently employed - by someone else. "Well we've were told by the Job Centre that you wanted to be self-employed". I am bald and I don't have enough hair to pull out. So, the last month of my unemployment saw me viewing the Job Centre as an institution of misplaced arrogance, incompetence and general no-use to anyone unemployed over 12 months - actually make that 6 months if you have a partner/huband/wife that works more than 30 hours a week, even if they're earnning next to nothing.
I confess that I came away from my last signing-on at the Job Centre with a heavy heart and a bit a black cloud hanging over my finely polished head. What now? What do I do? 45 years old with a skill set that is of no use to man nor beast nor Norwich employer and being a kept man by a very patient other half. Not quite how the plan was supposed to go, I can tell you.
Well, when down, I don't stay there for long - I find melancholy far too exhausting and not good for the digestion. We sat down and looked at the range of options, which soon came to realise were like, none. So it was a case of thinking laterally. What skills do I possess? Quite good at music, not too bad at photography, very good with people. And that's where the plans for the little shoppe came as well as plans to hold an exhibition of my photographic work and see about getting a book published. I then had a cal, totally out of the blue, from a good aquaintance, offering me the chance of some casual work, on a self-employed basis, here and there. We sat down and did the maths. I was getting nothing coming in cash-wise and the Job Centre had become the dictionary definition of useless - there was nothing more they could do for me now. So, we looked at how other benefits would be affected, it didn't look too bad, so the decision was taken for me to sign-off, register as self-employed and take my chances. At the end of the day, what did I have to lose?
I'm not going into the details of the casual work, it is in a worth-while industry and it doesn't seem appropriate to discuss it. All I shall say is, it will bring a little more money in than the JSA - which will always be better :-D
I'm a couple of weeks in, the work is sparse, but I knew that and essentially, it isn't that big a problem in a broader contect, but at least I am free to be able to do anything that comes along without the complications of red tape and the need to wrestle with the JSA mentality. I'm now one less government statisitc, whcih will help make them look good I suppose, but it does make me wonder what the true unemployment figure is because of this situation that the present system puts you in.
So, I'll be working harder at improving my photography, pushing to get my name "out there", pushing the music a little more, looking for new avenues of income. It may work, it may not. If it does, I'll send you a postcard from the Bahamas. If it doesn't, watch out for my name in the bankruptcy listings :-)