A head of uncertainty

I am not looking for a new job right now. I am not even contemplating retirement; carriage clock and goodbye sherry seem to have been kicked offside by the current economic crisis. Instead I have been distracting myself with the recent press coverage excited by the Ministry of Transport’s recruitment drive for a “Head of Uncertainty’. If the M of T are searching, metaphorically I feel that my own messy cerebrum may be in with a shout.

I go off to research the small print in the JD, and discover that the Ministry are looking for someone who can see the ‘Big Picture’, someone who can make ‘Effective Decisions’ and someone who can ‘Deliver at Pace’. I soon realise that they seek just one candidate to deliver on the full wish list – rather than anticipate applications from three different people. Their HR team also seem to be after an economist who is adept at strategic modelling for transport and not someone like myself who can only model a head full of uncertainty shaped from many months in limbo.

Let me peel my onion for you.

On good days I tell myself that I am on the cusp of a little adventure rather than wading through the messy middle of my life. On bad days I am heartily fed up of trying to get back on the property market when the ground keeps shifting.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I have finally built up the courage to move off the rental market, get my furniture out of my bijou storage unit and get my sorry derriere back on the property ladder. For someone as risk adverse as a pangolin, this has been no mean feat. It has been a summer of discovery.

On paper I am a strong candidate for the property I have been trying to nail down. I have no chain, I have funds, and I have a cheery disposition.

I find my room with a view (I will save the details for another blog in the faint hope that I may still land it), offer the asking price without haggle and have my offer accepted. I am then guzumped. I offer on another property and then, a few weeks later, the initial flat comes back on the market and I have a dark night of the soul wondering whether I should return to it and upset another deck of cards or play a very straight bat. For once I decide to go with my heart – that view is calling me – and I return to the original property in the knowledge that I am proceedable and that the vendor has promised to break her chain if necessary to get me moved in by the end of the summer.

I get a mortgage offer before the market starts to tumble and this offer is honoured even when I switch property, however the clock is now ticking and the leaves have started falling from the trees. I remind myself that I am in an excellent position and that my aforementioned cheery disposition will soon be reunited with my belongings. The vendor then pulls out of her purchase and conveniently forgets that she originally offered to break her chain; she asks me to wait while she finds another property. I have little choice if I want that view.

I try to avoid people who ask me how my property purchase is going.

I stay forward facing and distract myself with work. My mother helps with supportive comments like, ‘are you not in your flat yet?’ and, ‘you seem very calm about this infernal pit of worry.’ I respond that I am not calm and that I am just wearing my game face. I tell mum that I would rather not talk about it and comment that it is lucky that she is getting to spend so much additional time with me. I hear her muttering something like, ‘Well I would pull out of the deal if I were you, you’re not getting any younger’.

I remind myself that victim mentality will get me nowhere and I keep chipping away to see if I can get things moving again.

My house sit comes to an end when my lovely landlords return from abroad. I start having nightmares about the prospect of sofa surfing at my advancing stage of life and I feel my dragonfly wings deflating. I begin to wonder if my storage unit could double up as an air b’n’b. I remind myself how lucky I am when my landlords invite me to stay and make me so welcome even though they cannot get into their dining room because of the huge pile of boxes that won’t fit into my lock up.

The clocks go back.

I discover that although the world of education never reduced their working hours to Covid O’Clock, the legal world appears to have more flexibility; the vendor’s solicitor only seems to answer phone calls on a Wednesday and my solicitor doesn’t work on a Wednesday. This is unfortunate for there are 30 queries on the lease and the vendor’s solicitor says they will only respond to all the queries in one go. I wait three weeks for their response and they respond to my solicitor on a Wednesday; they respond to seven out of the thirty queries, forget the attachments and demonstrate none of the three pre-requisites for the Ministry of Transport job. My mortgage clock ticks down.

You know by now that I like to live my life like a Disney princess on the hunt for rainbows and unicorns, but I now recognise that my capacity for uncertainty has reached full stretch. I distract myself by a job search on LinkedIn and find a company looking for ‘Solutionology Practitioners’. I am not thinking of applying – I haven’t got the ‘bandwidth’ – but I may give them a call to see if the successful candidate has any suggestions. Perhaps they can find some certainty for me in my uncertain world.

Meanwhile, of one thing I am certain, I need to call my Materials Movement Operative to cancel my scheduled van removal. I also need to thank my landlords for not showing me the door; they seem to be so much better than I am at seeing the big picture, making effective decisions and offering medicinal glasses of red wine ‘at pace’. I will let you know if we can stitch a solution together. If not, I warn you now that the next blog will be titled, ‘Tales from my Lock Up; An Uncertain Future’.


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