It's all change here at the moment. I found out this week that my request for early release from work has been approved by the powers that be, and that the end of May will therefore see me leaving the Civil Service.
I am SO excited.
Inspired by this, and also by the fact that his own job has become increasingly tiresome over the last couple of years, Mr WithaY has thrown caution to the winds, his hat into the ring and his fate upon the bosom of the gods, and applied for early release as well.
He finds out in July, as there are about 100 times more people being hoofed out of his Department than out of mine, so the process will take much longer. If successful he will be plodding forth into the snowy wastes with his little bindle on his shoulder in October.
But where will we go? What will we do? Will we be begging for scraps outside the pub of a lunchtime, and busking for small change in Bath city centre on a Saturday?
Quite possibly, yes.
However, my immediate plan is to take the summer off - I can't wait - and take some time to consider what I want to do with myself. I have already started looking at what jobs are around and trying not to automatically consider all the stuff that is exactly like what I'm already doing.
It's like shoe shopping. Whenever I go shoe shopping, I end up buying a pair of shoes very much like the ones I am already wearing. I can't help it. And it seems that job window-shopping is the same.
I reckon I could find a job pretty quickly, I always have in the past, and am usually pretty fortunate at interviews. I've never been unemployed, so perhaps I am over-complacent. I could get a temping job somewhere, doing office-y admin-y stuff, but I want to change direction. I went into the Civil Service more or less by accident, as a "well, I need a job and this will do for now" stopgap, and then stayed there for years. And years. And years.
This is my chance to change my life in a big way. I am grabbing it with both hands. And all my feet.
We were discussing it the other night, and Mr WithaY made the point that unless we ever won the lottery (a remote prospect at best) we'll never be in a position where we have a reasonable lump sum come into our possession. So, how marvellous, how exciting, how fortunate, that we can ask ourselves "what would we like to do?" and not "What do we have to do?"
Of course things would be different if we had children to think about, or huge debts to manage, or fears about being able to provide for ourselves in the future, but we don't, so we can both face whatever is coming our way with excitement, not anxiety.
I am loving it. For the first time in a very long time - since I left home to go to college I think - I feel as though things are going to change in a big way, anything is possible, a new vista is opening up for me. God. It is fucking brilliant.
Other news: Mr WithaY made the local paper this week, as a "member of the public" who called the police when the garage was being robbed. Fame at last.
Also, today we bought a cold frame at Lidl. It has been assembled in the back garden and we are planning to plant aubergines. Or maybe sweet peppers. Something tasty will be grown in there. We also bought seeds for the vegetable garden, mostly French beans, courgettes and squashes. Or is it squash? Anyhoo. I wanted carrot seeds but Lidl was disappointingly short in the carrot department*. I shall go to the garden centre tomorrow and get a packet or two.
This week has seen the worst train chaos I have had to deal with since I started working in London. I left work early on Monday night, wanting to scamper home to tell Mr WithaY that I had my release date. I got to Waterloo thinking I would be in time to catch the 4:50 train...it was cancelled.
Ah well, I could get the 5:20. Cancelled. Fuck.
Trying to be clever, I got on a train that was headed for Basingstoke, according to the information board, thinking I could get a local train to Salisbury from there and then either get Mr WithaY to come and pick me up, or get the train back to where my car was parked. Lateral thinker, me.
The commuter chaps around me were very helpful, finding me a seat and helping me stow my bags and coat. I settled down and smiled at them, asking what time we were due at Basingstoke.
"We're not going to Basingstoke, love."
"No...first stop is Winchester."
I was horrified, and had to gather up all my stuff and get OFF the train in a rush, for fear of ending up halfway across the country from where I needed to be. Gah. They were lovely, though, asking me if I wanted them to save my seat in case I came back. I declined. I have a feeling we'd all be planning a holiday together by now if I'd said yes.
Back to the concourse, to look sadly at the Board Of Many Delays.
O-kay...the 5:50? Delayed. But on the platform. I got aboard and settled in grimly, waiting for the train to leave, or death, whichever came first.
The train left.
I got home at almost 9pm, having left the office just after 4. Almost five fucking hours.
I worked at home on Tuesday and Wednesday, then up to London again on Thursday. The train was on time, but the further along the journey we went, the slower it got. Eventually, at the time we were supposed to be arriving at Waterloo, we got to Surbiton. The guard told us the train was terminating there, and we all had to get out. Fucks sake.
Twenty minutes of standing on a bleak platform, icy winds blowing through from Siberia, followed. Several trains chugged through without stopping, until a local train halted. Everyone piled aboard, and we made our way painfully slowly into Waterloo, stopping at every signal along the way. We got there an over hour late, which meant I got to work over four hours after leaving home, cold, stressed, grumpy and tousled.
I am unutterably happy that this will end in a few short weeks.
*That sounds like a euphemism: "He's a nice bloke, but disappointingly short in the carrot department."