“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds”
“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds”
It was my last day at Lapland UK on Monday, so Elf Control let me do a shift on the SWAT team, which is a fantastic name for a threesome which relieves other elves for their breaks. Rather than doing the same show over and over again, the SWAT team do a bit of everything which is a treat! Only if you know all the lines however….
In the magic pathway, I was playing Eeko the environment elf, who speaks only in rhyme. Her recycling song goes “Try hard to use things in more ways than one, we call that recycling and it’s lots of fun, that way you’ll be helping our world to live longer, and you can feel proud that you’ve made us all stronger…” etc etc. I did know it, in the back of my mind, but when I emerged from my treetop hiding place and found myself almost entirely blinded by the theatrical spotlights, only just able to make out a few faces among the audience below me, one of whom was that of Jeremy Kyle(!!!!!) I froze! It completely threw me, and I could not for the life of me remember my lines! The concealed microphone pinned to my cheek seemed to cruelly magnify my uneasy silence. Think think think! I strained. The rhyme was definitely about recycling… How did it start Goddamnit?! With every passing second I was conscious of more and more expectant faces amongst the audience. Jeremy Kyle did not look impressed. The silence was stifling, I had to do something.
“Overground, undergroung, elfing free
The elves of Lapland UK are we!
Making good use of the things that we find
Things that the human folk leave behind…”
I mumbled. All those long car journeys with N’s family playing the Wombles album must have had more of an impact than I had realised. I think of the Wombled under pressure! I then remembed the last couplet, and almost shouted it!
“So give me a wave if you’re going to help me,
And then I will know that you’re all Eeko-friendly!”
As the group filed out of the magical forest and into Lapland UK proper, I nearly fell out of my tree in relief! Luckily, the rest of the day passed smoothly. In the evening most of the cast went to the pub. I couldn’t drink, as I’m all drugged up ready for the operation, but I was bought an endless supply of diet coke all night! Charlie from Elf Control presented me with a beautiful bunch of pink roses and lilies, and a card. I don’t know what he’ll do on Christmas Eve, when the rest of the 200-strong cast leave. Perhaps I’m just special! After an emotional car-park farewell, I drove home listening to Heart FM, which rather cruelly played an advert for Lapland UK, followed by Stay Another Day.
Although I’m a terrible actress, I certainly did make a good elf. I’m ridiculously overexcited when it comes to Christmas, and am usually always energetic, enthusiastic and great with children. Lapland UK was the perfect job. I absolutely loved it! Its so unfair that my dream job only lasts 45 days a year!!
I’m leaving for hospital in half an hour, and am frantically packing the last bits and pieces I need. I’m armed with the Jonathan Creek boxset, as well as Green Wing, although I’m not sure Green Wing was such a good idea. One episode I was watching showed Guy the anaesthetist inflating a patient for humour, and since the only real-life scoliosis death I’ve come across was the anaesthethist’s fault, I imagine I may be a little mistrusting of mine.
I did eventually manage to drift off last night. I was scouring scoliosis forums, which were largely helpful until I came across the story of Gayle. Gayle, like many others, had hundreds of questions to post on the forum before her operation, and seemed really upbeat and positive about hers. Her final post was titled, ‘this is it,’ as she went into hospital in the US. The next post was from her husband, with the sad news that Gayle had passed away in theatre. The anaesthetist had accidentally messed up somehow. Reading about Gayle stopped me sleeping even more, so I watched Jonathan Creek, but its numerous murders reminded me of my own mortality and I started to really panic! I was desperate to take some nytol but I was worried it would affect surgery! I eventually fell asleep listening to a Friday Night Comedy podcast.
I’ve just realised how depressing this post is! The entire point of my blog is to stay upbeat and comedic! I’m very sorry to anyone who came here looking for an amusing anecdote or one of my many embarrassing jobhunt moments! I’ve set up one of two posts to automatic publication so the blog won’t be entirely banal while I’m away, and hopefully will be OK to type when I get out of hospital.
It’s quarter past two in the morning and I can’t sleep. Every time I get close to dropping off I immediately think about Thursday’s anaesthetic and panic. It’s my last night in my own beautiful double bed before going into hospital. My back pain seems worse tonight than ever, as if it feels a need to remind me of the impending doom of tomorrow!
I really want to find out exactly what today’s degrees are really worth. I was raised under the sunny optimism that says that you can do anything if you try hard enough, and now that really seems to be proving not the case. I want to hear from YOU. Please please please email me at email@example.com or leave a Comment telling me what your degree is, at which University you studied, what you’re doing now, and what you’d like to be doing. Lots of you who know me personally have been sending me PMs on Facebook, so feel free to contact me that way as well!
1. Your degree subject
2. Your University
3. Your current situation
4. Your ideal situation
Thank-you so much in advance for the minute of your time!
I received my Teach First email yesterday, and they LIKE ME!!!! Although this is merely the first hurdle, it’s a milestone, as it will be the second time in NINE MONTHS that I’ve managed to get to the second stage of an interview process. The first was Millward Brown, which was a disaster apart from the lovely free lunch I was given! This time I’m more suited to the career, and feeling good about it!
There is one slight issue with the timing however… The assessment day, a full day, is scheduled for early January, by which time I will have had only three weeks recovery time. My doctors have said that they usually sign people off work for six to eight weeks. I will be wearing a rather sturdy plastic brace to keep my spine in place, and still unable to wash myself properly. This is concerning, as Teach First jobs are given away on a first-come-first-served basis, and if I were to ask for a later assessment day, there may no longer be places available in my chosen subject area and region. However I do have extenuating circumstances, surely?
As I’m not an actor, it’s only natural that I have the occasional blunder. The script, whilst amusing in its simplicity, does provide some points on which to trip up. Most often, I end up with a terrible case of verbal diarrhoea, blurting out “blururulurur” repeatedly, until on of my fellow elves steps in and relieves me of my line, inserting an appropriate excuse such as, “she’s so excited, she can’t even speak!” On Monday, I was thrown by an impromptu hug from a small child, and messed up my ‘you’ve past your elf training’ line, instead congratulating the group for passing their ‘elf and safety training!’ A particularly horrific moment, was when I stumbled on the line, “you have all shown us what caring and unselfish children you are” (by helping the elves to make toys for other children). I accidentally said with a beaming smile, “you have all show us what uncaring and selfish children you are,” a misdemeanour met with a frostier reception than the fake icicles hanging from the toy factory windows.
On the other hand, the children themselves say some hilarious things. Part of the spiel is to ask children if they can think of a way in which the elves can cut down trees to make wooden toys without hurting the lovely world, to which one small boy responded, “put a plaster on them.” Bless! Monday’s group was slightly more sinister. When asked what they thought we did with grown-ups who didn’t sing along to ‘busy elves,’ one child responded, “you keep them here forever,” and when that turned out to be incorrect, another child tried out “you turn them into toys!”
Elfing is most certainly the best job I have had, possibly ever! It was heartbreaking having to tell ‘Elf Control’ the news of my upcoming surgery, which means I have only a week left of Lapland fun. I will certainly be making the most of the time I have left!
I have begun the lengthy Teach First Application process, although I am already concerned that I’m lagging behind all the other enthusiastic prospective teachers who had theirs off in September. Another hurdle has knocked me down almost immediately: not only do they require my A Levels, they require the exact dates of the exams and the amount of Ucas points I achieved. I took those exams five years ago, and no matter how much I dig through the neverending filing cabinet in the airing cupboard, I have lost my certificates. So now what!? Its not enough for them to know what grades I achieved in my subjects, I cannot proceed to the next step of the application form without these mysterious Ucas points!
I’m currently applying to a very different type of graduate scheme: Teach First. It is a two year paid training programme which is much harder to get onto than a PGCE, but it has links with high flying employers such as Procter&Gamble and PriceWaterHouse Coopers. It is a charity which trains young teachers on the job in
grotty (I’m not sure what the politically correct term is) schools. I thought this would be the perfect expansion of my horizons, and it has the added bonus of widening career prospects rather than limiting them, as a PGCE tends to do.
As soon as I’d completed my Secondary English PGCE application (which I cannot submit until my personal tutor finds a 3 minute break in his study leave to write a reference), all my friends and family helpfully told me how suited I’d be to Primary Education instead. So I’ve jumped at the chance to apply for primary positions aswell! Another advantage of primary schools is that they are far less likely to be
grotty (politically correct alternative) than secondary schools.
Before you can even apply to Teach First you have to register, and this was where I hit my first hurdle. Oddly enough, the ‘Your Education’ section had been put in as a subheading under the overall heading: ‘Equal Opportunities.’ I’m not sure how good my own ‘Equal Opportunities’ form is looking, as it currently declares that I’m a white, middle class graduate from a ladies’ grammar school in Royal Tunbridge Wells… At least I have one trump card up my sleeve – I’m a woman!
For the first time in five months my bank has seen a salary! Its not around the £20k mark that I’m after, but its enough to fund my Christmas shopping (which now has to be done before my operation) and a little donation into the ‘Fly-the-Nest’ bank account. I’ve been fiercely guarding my shifts, which have the unnerving tendency to change or disappear altogether without notice, and have signed up for all the overtime I can get! This means I am now a main character at Lapland UK, starting tomorrow, and having about as many acting skills as J-Lo, am rather terrified. I shall be chanting my “think of the money, think of the money, think of the money” mantra throughout much of the day!
It hasn’t helped that I have been (foolishly) reading some of the bad reviews of Lapland UK on mumsnet.com. Whilst most of them are about Lapland UK’s opening year in 2007, which didn’t go brilliantly, some mention the staff this year, and I’m consumed by paranoia that they are talking about me! Some complaints which have done nothing for my ‘elf-esteem’ include: “inexpertly delivered dramatics,” “spotty yoofs dressed as elves” and “inane elf banter.” Yet it must be said that these same critics are also lamenting that “the snow was not real snow,” “not one of the live reindeer had a red nose” and “the elves were not played by midgets, but by young adults.” So you just can’t please everyone!
I’ve just been to hospital. The previous post is a picture of my spine.
Now, with my skin and various other organs on, it doesn’t look quite as bad as it does in stark, black and white X-ray imagery, but it certainly is, and has been for some time, painful, and will need surgery. This surgery is scheduled for December 9th, in two weeks away, and while I’m excited about the prospect of having shoulders at even heights and losing the excess hip I have on one side, the surgery does somewhat throw a spanner in the job hunting works. My broken spine will impede my abilities to attend and perform at interview, let alone in a job, and I’m told it will be a year before I have made a full recovery. That said, I will be able to take an office job after about three months, I just won’t be able to be able to fulfil my lifelong ambition to become a ski jumper for another year!
As a consequence, I have now cut down my applications to graduate schemes, or jobs with a starting date beyond March.
I’m one week in to my very unique Christmas job, the position about which the media frenzied! As soon as I posted the news that I had the elf job, I received a barrage of phone calls from varies magazines or newspapers, and given that I want to work in magazines and newspapers and have an unwavering optimism, each call went something like this:
Them: “Hello, I’m calling from XX magazine, we’ve been reading your blog, and –”
Me: “When can I start?!?!!”
Them: “Erm, well, actually…” *Insert awkward pause here before the heartbreak!* “We actually just wanted to write about your situation. We’ll pay you £small sum…”
Me: “Can I write the article?”
Me: “Instead of you paying me can I write the article?”
Me: “Perhaps I could just come and do some unpaid work experience?”
Me: “I could be the tea girl?!”
And so on!
My current position is Toy Factory Elf, although I am very much hoping to broaden my elfish horizons as far as Mother Christmas’ Kitchen, or even to the honourable shades of the Magic Pathway! Although I have no acting experience whatsoever, I am one of the more convincing elves, which I put down to my teaching experience. I think that teachers are actors, in a way, and I am certainly putting the skills I learnt teaching English as a Foreign Language to excellent use in the Toy Factory!
The strange part is acting like a complete and utter loon in front of the parents. Whilst I can play the fool in front of a large group of wild and rampant rugrats, I am too shy to make eye contact with the parents. They are terrifying! Not only do they frequently dispel any elfin magic by referring to me as “the lady” and not “the elf,” they have the most unfounded complaints imaginable! One lady loudly complained that the snow wasn’t cold enough! I had to somehow break it to her, whilst remaining in character, that the snow had to be fake because, although she had come down the elves magic teleporting pathway, she was in fact still in Kent, where it hasn’t snowed. Even more bizarrely, perhaps, was the parent who angrily remarked that not one of the reindeer had a red nose!
Anecdotes to come, I must get some sleep, it is exhausting singing and jumping day in day out!