Wow its February and this is my first post of the year, I apologise again for slacking! You would have thought that I would have had a lot of time on my hands during these quiet months but, since I also predicted that, I have filled them with other tasks.
We have now almost completed the ladies toilet upgrade so I don’t have to spend every waking hour working on them. The new toilets have been well received and, more importantly, have enabled us to ‘steal’ the small space that we needed for the garden project. We are now waiting on the architect so that we can get planning in for the external changes ready to push on in a couple of months.
For me the toilets has been mostly wiring, some plumbing and painting oh and paying invoices. It is great to get the tools out and do a bit of manual labour, just as it is for those of my ex-colleagues who are now consigned to desk roles. Soldering some pipe up, planning cable runs and installing all reminds us of when life was simpler I think. Of course I am not as young as I once was and a frozen shoulder is now a nagging reminder of that fact.
I continue to follow the exploits of Bombardier and am immensely proud to see Crossrail leading the way in securing new, and well deserved, contracts. I see the pride in people when they reach a stage in the contract and I know the blood sweat and tears that gets these things through and into production. I have the same pride now when somebody compliments the Plough and I can assure you there is plenty of blood sweat and tears so we are not so many miles apart.
I set out on this mission with the understanding that the pub could never compete with the complications and stress of my career, I may not be correct. As at least one of my locals will tell you, I only have to open two doors a day and in that lies the secret of this life, making it look easy. My office looks like a bomb zone. The desk is awash with paper, there are two whiteboards full of things that I need to remember but wont be able to remember why when I do. Two screens constantly nag me with spreadsheets and accounts packages and it takes a wall planner and a diary to help me forget what is happening tomorrow! Weeks race by with such an alarming rate that monthly tasks seem an insurmountable challenge and planning seems as likely as a white Christmas (please lets not say the C word again for at least a few months).
I awake every morning with two thoughts now, that thing that I think I forgot to do and that thing that I need to remember to do. That small mental exercise probably controls more in the pub than any of the notes, boards and books do. No matter how much praise the pub gets I feel continually guilty that I have not given enough time and attention to a person, a task or a plan. I can see so much more to come and it frustrates me that we can’t do it yet. This comes from a person who has always proclaimed that slow and steady progress drives engagement and rapid change alienates, funny how sometimes it is so hard to practice what you preach.
For all the hard work I love what I do. Despite the gruelling shifts with people who you don’t wish to engage with there is a huge pleasure in the shifts when the pub works and becomes that which you are trying to mould. I guess that the true indicator of happiness for me is that I remain amazed that I am here. One night last week when I retired, exhausted, in the early hours of the morning I realised that I had left my cell phone downstairs. Since I use the phone as my alarm I was obliged to return and retrieve it and, as I am as a contrary as can be, I didn’t turn any lights on. When I eventually located the cell I stopped and looked around, in the glow of streetlights and emergency light indicators, and again I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that this is my home. To live in this pub, despite the hardships, is a privilege and one that I wasn’t always sure that I would achieve. To live on the island is an ambition achieved, I haven’t left Shanklin in 14 months and yet still I have no need or desire to.