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Yes, yes, yes, I told you that while I was cutting back on my expenses and that I would never, never get rid of the cleaner. She is the hero of the hour and worth every penny and saved me nearly £200.

I’ve spent this week hunting high and low for my iPod – my days have been silent and sad without it. I was even planning a visit to the iPod shop today to buy a new one. To have to shell out for a another one is a bitter blow for the unemployed, and a lot of dosh, but it’s a handbag essential and I can’t live without it, so needs must.

I’ve spent many hours trying to work out where it could be. Hmmm, it must be somewhere. Back of the sofa? nope. Under the mattress? In a coat pocket? Check, check and recheck. I even rang around everywhere I have been over the last few days to beg and plead for the return of my 120GB friend.

So yesterday, I had a bright idea. My cleaner was coming to do her magic and I thought I would employ her organisational skills in my search.

‘I’ll give you £20 if you can find my iPod’
‘I’ll look for it, I’m very lucky you know. I found a passport for another client’
‘I’ve looked everywhere – I know I put it somewhere but I just can’t remember’
‘Ok, I will try.’
Oh yes, she’s going to find it I thought. While I busied myself shooing the plumber around the house and overseeing the instalment of my mock crock bar (yes it finally arrived!), I kept my fingers crossed.

I could hear the hoover, the taps going but no other sounds.
Finally, footsteps on the stairs, and she appeared brandishing my iPod like a prize.

‘Yippee! Thanks so much!’
‘It was in your room’
‘You’re kidding’
‘Yep, by your bed’
‘Never!’
‘The big wooden bowl?’
‘But I looked in there, it’s full of Miniminx’s stuff – I checked it twice’
‘Aha – it was under the big wooden bowl’
‘Thanks, I should have look underneath but I didn’t think of doing that’

ipod

Yes, I am undeniably superficial – I can only manage to look on the surface of things obviously – but who cares when £20 gets me back my beloved iPod and saves me shelling out for a new one.

So I happily hotfooted it to the cashpoint with Candi Staton as my soundtrack and felt euphoric. A very happy cleaner left my house too with a nice little bonus. And, reflecting on how much money I’d saved myself, I proceeded to download some must have albums from iTunes. And in my mind, they were all free!

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ergonomic-backpack-grey_12371Yep, I left off last Friday’s post feeling all positive after having a major moan, and having decided exercise was the only answer, with my mind made up to sweat out my problems on the treadmill, I ran round madly grabbing lotions, potions, kit, towels and my trusty iPod…

With my bag stuffed to bursting, I headed off to pump, pose and pamper at my gym.  In true Nixdminx style, what sounds like the lap of luxury nevertheless turns out to be a dog’s dinner from start to finish, no matter which way you look at it.

On my merry little stroll to muscle mecca, my trusty Manhattan Portage back pack broke, leaving me walking lumpenly in my parka in the manner of Quasimodo.   Ho hum, it’s ancient, I’ll mend it I thought blythely.  As it was Friday, and I was looking forward to a night out with the Notting Hill fillies, I booked a sunbed for that instant glow and stood bathing in the UVA rays until kaboom – the blasted thing blew up on me!  Hastily donning a swimming costume and towel, I tiptoed into the reception area looking quite scared and very scary –  I still had thick white factor 50 sunscreen daubed across my face for all and sundry to gawp at. ‘Oops sorry, have a free one next time you’re in’ said the receptionist.

Slinking into the changing rooms, I was ready to get  running and work up a sweat until I realised I’d left my work out leggings at home – the thought of attempting a 3k run in my knickers did cross my mind, but I thought I’d scared everyone enough already.

Not one to give up without a fight, I headed to the pool. Oh dear. This credit crunch has left a lot of fat pants cats out of work, and it seems they’re all whaling whiling away the hours in ‘my’ Spa.  Best to leave it alone for a bit I thought and hit the pool for a few lengths.  I’d forgotten my swimming goggles, but by this time I couldn’t care less, so swam back and forth in the manner of a tottering drunk as I kept my eyes closed for most of it.  That done, it was time to relax, but not wanting to be the only female in the hot tub, I went into the sauna instead. 

After ten minutes, I emerged beetroot-like and the spa was still full so I jumped into the pool to swim a bit more until the hairy Walruses left, only to find my leg muscles spasmed in the extreme change of temperature and I was hopping around with cramp.   At least I could look forward to having a shower and getting out of there…just don’t ask how my hair got to look like a haystack when I left otherwise I’ll have to share another Nixdminx moment…

Needless to say I was back at the gym on Sunday to try all over again and claim my free sunbed. I stood bathing in the UVA rays until kaboom – the blasted thing blew up on me! Hastily donning a swimming costume and towel, I tiptoed into the reception area – and you know the rest

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Miniminx and I have both got cricked necks from too much Wii Fit and sleeping at funny angles – oh ha ha not. I’ve learned the true meaning of a pain in the neck. Oh yes, kids do say the funniest things don’t they. My reputation is in tatters thanks to Miniminx and her salacious gossip…

Taking full of advantage of my lack of gainful employment, Miniminx enjoyed a day at home on Monday with warmed neckpad, hot water bottle, Disney Channel, lots of moaning and wearing out the battery on her DS (oops sorry I darling, I forgot where I hid, I mean tidied away the charger…). She seemed fine yesterday, so off to school we went.

A few hours later, I get the call from school, ‘Your little darling is in the sick bay and wants her Mummy’. So off I pootle to school and pick her up and we have to cab it to my long awaited facial with her wearing my long-haul-flight-neck-cosy… I thought I’d take advantage of the Giraffe 2-4-1 dinner and stuff cooking so off we went afterwards for a nice quick supper and an arm wrestle over homework.

‘Mum, it’s lucky I can remember your mobile number off by heart now as the ladies in the school office didn’t have to go through all the files.’
‘Oh, you’re such a clever little darling aren’t you!’
‘Oh yeah, and they asked if you’d be at work but I told them you wouldn’t be ‘cos you’re UNEMPLOYED now and NOT WORKING.’
‘Thanks darling’

So it doesn’t end there, that was just the beginning….

I love Amy Winehouse and her scat cat antics, she’s one of my favourite singers and mostly, her lyrics are unintelligible to Miniminx (and me actually), but I think she’s going to have to be silenced for a while. Last night, Miniminx called down the stairs ‘MUUUUUUUUUUM?? WHAT’S REEE HABBB???

‘Oh, you know, it’s for drunks and druggies darling’
‘What does that mean?’
‘Um, well, if Mummy was drinking two bottles of vodka and having a glass of wine at breakfast, I’d probably need to go to rehab. But obviously I don’t need to because I don’t’ I said smugly…

My little angel’s face poked out of a mountain of bathtime bubbles and said what only an eight year old can…
‘Ha ha, I’m going to tell everyone at school you’re going to rehab…’

Well that will go down like a cold cup of sick with the school gate mums…I’m going to get a t-shirt printed and fast…I’M NO AMY.

Needless to say, she is in school today sporting a ThermaCare heatwrap with instructions to keep a lid on the gossip or all gadgets will be returned to Lapland pronto!

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Yes, the about turn of non stop whirl of working life leads, one thinks, to a life of leisure. But the thing is, I’m one of those people who just needs to think about doing one thing and then life just seems to get really frantic, well, not frantic but sometimes it’s the equivalent of a drop of water on a Gremlin.

Take for example a simple trip to my storage unit yesterday. Easy enough, drop off stuff, pick up stuff and enjoy a lengthy lunch in a local posh pub…

I’m thanking my lucky stars that I went actually – I opened up the door to find all my storage boxes had collapsed and there has been a damp problem in that area of the building following the cold snap. So now it’s a case of unpacking, repacking and moving units – what a zen-like task and what a pain in the arse too. However, on the bright side, I only go there once a year or so and if I hadn’t gone everything would have rotted. I think some of my stuff is ruined. I went there to take a stack of packing boxes which cost me a fortune last time I moved and I stubbornly refuse to ditch them.

So now they’ve gone from my house, amazingly the space is already replaced by a new load of boxes from my meanderings online in a few of my favourite shops. I ordered a Dyson animal on Amazon which looks amazing. It replaces my old Dyson which I thought was fine, even though it’s 10 years old. I asked my cleaner why the rugs always looked so dirty and she said it was the Dyson, she told me it was like using a toy hoover – I was mortified, so I had to replace it. Pricey to say the least but it’s built to last and it had £50 off.

Next a delivery from figleaves – I’m really impressed since I placed the order less than 48 hours ago, most of it is 50-70% off. Then my White Company delivery – great! Kids hangers for Miniminx’s ward robe, and the Brighton Bath Towel rail which I’ve waited and waited for a discount on but it’s never in the sale so I jumped straight in. I’d forgotten that I’d bought a backgammon set reduced from £80 to £35 and so that was a neat surprise and 30% off scented candle is my other bargain. It’s like Christmas day with all this arriving.

But last night my very disappointing Sainsburys shop arrived with a lot missing. The driver was apologetic but it’s not his fault. I’d gone for a lot of 2 for 1 offers and some were missing. They’ve also done the old – give the internet shopper stuff that’s nearly out of date trick – so my 2 for 3 on rice noodles is ridiculous as I only get through a pack every three days and the sell by is tomorrow. Bummer. Even worse, three of us were playing on Wii Fit and my Super Hoola record score was reduced as we had to get the door – it was actually quite funny tho.

And the job hunt? Pah, there’s nothing go on so I’m looking forward to getting my hair done (an essential for job hunting) and visiting the dole office tomorrow. I’ve decided to take a positive approach and try and see what courses are available to me in my out-of-work state.

Is anyone else blogging about being unemployed? I seem to be unable to find anyone out there…am I missing something??

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Yes, homonyms, or in my case, irony!! Instead of doing nothing, I’m going down the signing on to get benefits route – if only they would pay me in Benefit products, at least I’d feel pretty…. Maybe that’s a new marketing idea for the brand, Job Seekers’ Make Overs.

Before Christmas I was listening to Moneybox on Radio 4 and a government spokersperson said everyone was eligible for Job Seekers Allowance. But guess who isn’t??? Yes, the Nixdminx gets nixed again! So while I sold my flat the day before prices plummeted, I have kept the cash but it counts as savings so I’m no better off really. Apparently I will get my stamps paid, but I still have to go and sign on. The ‘rebranded’ Job Centres – now called Job Centre Plus – have just about all closed down, which means I’ll have a 20 minute walk and a tube journey every fortnight to get just about nothing. Even the Lone Parent thing is rubbish. Keeping it all positive, I applied via the government web site for Job Seekers Allowance last week and at the end of pages and pages of forms it said I would be contacted by telephone within 48 hours – it took over a week for someone to call me. ‘Is it convenient? This call may take around 25 minutes…’ Well, I hardly at work am I? I then had to do an online claim over the phone, it was all the same questions which I’d done online, pointless. As a result, I have to go for an interview at the dole office and see two people (what horror!). I’m going to do it Rab C Nesbitt style.

I’m sure this so called modernisation of the benefits system has created two extra layers of bureaucracy to the whole process by adding the online and telephone facilities. At least the bloke I spoke to was ok. It’s all pretty mortifying, they ask you if you’re pregnant and if your baby father is still alive – what a joke.

‘And what have you been doing to find a job?’ I was asked – well, jobs boards, personal contacts, newspapers, seeing recruiters of course. Harumph. I have actually found something pretty cool, a site called The Ladders. I applied to a job yesterday and signed up for a three month subscription which I think will pay off. It’s brand jobs and inhouse mostly and I would recommend it already, even after 24hours, because it has 600 jobs in marketing and a really comprehensive set up – take a look.

And back to my physical and spiritual evolution…I spent 2 hours on Wii Fit yesterday and then Miniminx beat my scores in minutes – we have been having such a laugh – the most hysteria has been raised by the football game where you have to do headers and dodge football boots and Panda heads, it gets a bit scary.

I started my giant collage yesterday and will finish it today. It’s like tapestry of colour and I’m using photos I’ve doctored in photoshop, tear sheets from magazines and acrylic paint, plus some of Nixminx’s art, so it’s a lovely piece. I dug around an old portfolio and found some pen and ink sketches I did about 10 years ago which I’m going to frame as they’re quite inspirational. In my social whirl during the holidays, I realised that most of my friends have got my paintings and photography scattered around their houses and I have very little. They’re very life affirming and I want my own art round me as a bolster – I suppose a bit of a comfort blanket in these strange days…

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…okay, okay, I’ve been lax and not posting recently, I needed to get Christmas out of the way and all the rest. I’d gone into the Christmas break with a flu and unemployment pending so it didn’t feel great and was dreading the whole thing as Miniminx was spending it with her Dad – boo hoo.

In the days before Christmas, I had a look around the internet for anything discussing single parents alone at Christmas – I looked not once, but many times. What for? So I didn’t feel so alone in my situation and such a social pariah – it made me cringe talking to the other school Mums in the playground, it seemed everyone was set for family time except me so it’s hard not to feel bad about the whole situation. I have one foot in the family camp and the other firmly planted in single life these days and this time of the year is the time it really comes to the fore. This Christmas thing seems to be the last taboo – no matter where I looked or what terms I searched under, there were meagre pickings and no advice available even on mumsnet or chat rooms. I used to really like mumsnet until David Cameron did a webchat for them and that nixed it for me – I can’t help but think of it as smug middle class mumsyish twaddle. I feel on the outside looking in and don’t visit the site anymore – why should politics come in to Motherhood??? Grrrrr….

My big question is why don’t people talk about the effect of post separation life – the 14 day rota that evolves as every other weekend is child-free? Is it just too painful? When I lived in bohemian East London there were more people in my situation, now in the W4 middle class ghetto, I’m the odd one out – career girl/single Mum, not stay at home earth Mother.

A couple of days after Christmas, Miniminx called me and we watched a movie, Tooth, together on the phone which was really funny – I mean the film was funny and we were sharing an experience even though we were miles apart. We missed each other like hell so it was great to get her home finally.

So my thinking on this internet community stuff is that people don’t really connect on things that matter to me. I suppose I should have posted something myself somewhere – it’s always been a heinous thought – how can children be wrenched away from their Mother’s on Christmas day? I remember hearing about Princess Diana spending the day alone without her boys and thinking it was tragic, never for once imagining that would one day be my fate, or as it happens, every other year. But I suppose, I signed up to be a fair parent post break up and ensure Miniminx has a life with her Father so that is that…

Happily I spent time with friends and had a great day and we made up for the day by having our own Christmas when Miniminx came home. Thanks Lucky Voice for a fab birthday – I sang my heart out along with my buddies and it was brilliant.

So it’s all on the up now, the dread has gone – I am free of 2008 and going to the gym every day and looking out for a fab job – but there’s not much about. In the meantime, I have to fill my days which is pretty easy. Miniminx is happy I can pick her up from school everyday. I’ve always found the lull between jobs gets pretty stressful after a while. I had a meeting last week with a recruiter and felt pretty ambivalent about the whole thing – having to grin and bear my situation while selling myself as hard as possible. In reality, the meeting went very well and the recruiter told me the job market never gets going until the second week of January, so hang on in there. So in order to keep my spirits up and feel good, the only way for me is to keep active – Wii fit (well it was Miniminx’s pressie) is getting a look in – and my gym gets to see me more. I’m doing yoga, pilates, running and swimming and lots of walking. Hopefully I’ll see a size-mic shift (ho ho) and all this exercise does help beat the January blues which is no mean feat. I’m still loading up my iPod and heading off to my storage unit this week to dig out years of old CDs which I can rediscover – I’m definitely filling my time with inane mundane stuff which I would never usually do if I was working, but it makes my days meaningful. I’m being more social as well – we’ve struck up a friendship with a family a few doors down which is fab – and meeting new people.

I’ve decided I’m going to try something new every day and today I’m going to create a collage on a giant blank canvas…how poetic.

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