Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Thievery Corporation

The week following family week has now become damage control week. beginning with my Blackberry having been nicked from the fitting rooms in the h&m at Covent Garden. It all began with my need to once again put on some toits and sweat it out to some classical piano accompaniment...not having any cash on me I left with just enough time to stop at the cash point by the station before getting to class on time (the studio is still the only place I'm never late getting to). Apparentlyt it didnt like either of my cards (seeing as my HSBC card was yet to arrive a month later-after asking after it, it turns out that the bank application said I didnt want one. Who doesnt want access to their money?!)

I was consequently left cashless, and so, running out of time I went on a mad sprint around the blocks surrounding the studio to see if I could find one. By the time I did find one, inside M&S, a supermarket of all places and one I had walked past at least a half dozen times, class had already started. Ballet etiquette says that arriving late to class is unprofessional, and I would have been more than 10 minutes late (which is my minimum standard anyways) I decided to catch the next class a couple of hours later and treat myself to a bit of cheap of shopping to hold me over until I start properly making money. Arms only half full (due to massive sizing issues-they dont make clothes for skinny people here!) I set myself up in a fitting room and proceeded to go through the usual motions of picky Shan shopping. I eventually found a top that I liked and as previous employees of retail shops do, tidied up after myself and hung everything back on its hangers, noticing that my phone was still sitting on the mini stool they put in fitting rooms (more to see how people manouever around it than anything else) and kept reminding myself, dont forget your phone, dont forget your phone. Well, I forgot my phone (as most people know, I have the worlds WORST memory!).

 I left the fitting room, and hadn't made it 10 steps past the door when I realized yep, I have forgotten something very important. In the 30 seconds it took for me to leave and come back to check, my BB had already made its way into someones grubby theiving hand and was now on its way to who knows where to be sold as parts on the black(berry) market or maybe traded for some obscurely addctive drug that costs over $400 a hit-conveniently the price tag on my poor little mobile.  Hoping I would have earned some kind of a reprieve for having given back dozens of mobiles to my own customers who had forgotten them ( I could have had the best collection of iphones ever by now) I attempted to enlist the reluctant employees in the fitting room to help me find the only thing keeping me in the loop of life at the moment.

They begrudgingly dragged themselves into a room or two claiming to not have seen it (have you checked your own pockets? mmmhm) and busying themselves with other tasks. Knowing it was a lost cause as someone that worked there was guaranteed to have it (no one came in or out of the fitting room after me and no one had used the room in 30 seconds derrr, Im not stoopid!) I left for home a very unhappy bunny, out of pocket for the tube, blackberry less and in too much of a stroppy mood to think that dancing at that point in time would have made me do anything less than burst into tears at the first mention of fouettes and overstretching.

So storming about with a black cloud over my head was on the agenda for the rest of the day as I dealt with the aftermath of that unfortunate incident. (I still have not received my replacement SIM card as I was supposed to by the end of last week, hence my conclusion that Great Britain operates on island time-how and when people feel things should be done, not how they should be done. I constantly have to follow up with people, making sure they are doing their jobs properly!) Once I sorted out a new sim card and had my phone barred I put myself and my foul mood to bed early as I had work early the next day.

Yes. I worked. On Wednesday. Which happened to be my first, and last day of work. I have been registering with agencies to help me find work as finding employment is proving to be quite difficiuly. Its not really a question of experience as much as a lack of jobs and employers fears of hiring foreigners (in my opinion at least). So off I went to the Royal College of Surgeons to work a day as a Mail Out Assistant (translation: envelope stuffer) for BAPRAS, which is the British Association of Plastic, Reproductive, and Aesthetic Surgeons. I loled to myself at the acronym as here baps is slang for breasts, and of course implants are one of the things that they do, both cosmetically and reconstructively.

The Royal College of Surgeons, London

Once I arrived I was collected by a small, awkward German woman who didn't really know what to say other than hello, and so I was left to walk down the corridors in silence towering over her and watching her wring her hands in discomfort. I felt rather important getting to work be a lackey in a rather important building which I will never be educated or skilled enough with surgical tools to be able to step into ever again (except for the museum bit where I can walk around with an air of importance pretending to know the relevance of the archives). And I got a guest pass to wear to make me look tres official. I was quickly introduced to the other 3 ladies that worked there, and then I was shown my task for the day.

There were boxes of booklets . Envelopes. Address labels. Approximately 800 of them, which needed to all be put together in 7.5 hours. After a debriefing (these labels go to the UK, 2nd class Royal Mail, these ones go to Europe, First Class Royal Mail and stamp EEC, these ones go Overseas, First Class Royal Mail, stamp Airmail) I was let loose on the mountain of boxes and envelopes deposited in front of my desk sweat shop. The process wasn't a difficult one, just time consuming, and I eventually found a good rythm where I could switch off and watch my hands work seperately from my brain.

I made small talk with the other ladies and found out that one of them was from Ontario and hat moved to England on an ancestry visa to be with her boyfriend (just what is it exactly about these Englishmen that make us Canadian women pack up our lives and move across the world?! It must be something innately attracting us back to the Motherland) and was planning on applying for citizenship (where you take a test about England where only approximately 12% of English people even know the answers). But she absolutely hated it here and couldn't wait to have her baby so she could move somewheres else, and began listing off all of the things she particularily disliked about London. Not something I necessarily wanted to hear after having only been here for a month and having a particularily rough go at it as well. We got on well though, being fellow Canadians, and we chatted throughout the day.

After having a lunch of shepards pie, potatoes, and carrots in the canteen in the basement (a bit eerie and old) I went back to work keeping my eye on the time and hoping I would be finished on time, and that the lamb I just ingested would maaaaa-ke me move a bit quicker (haha). I would have worked through my break, seeing as sitting and working is a huge change from being on my feet for up to 9 hours at a time, but in the typical English way, they are quite fussy about breaks, and I was actually forced to take one. (Just a side note for the NF girlies-did you know that cashiers actually get to SIT while working?! And they make you pack your own bags! AND they are the slowest creatures on the face of this earth...I almost died when I saw that! I have to go to the self checkouts because every time I stand in line I want to jump over the counter and do their job, its ridiculously painful to watch).

Near the end of the day, as I sweated away in a musicless office, in strolls an older man, probably a professor with a string of students behind him chatting away about medical blah blah and opening drawers in a file cabinety looking thing picking up various surgical tools. Hold the phone. Im working beside a medical archive? So now Iv got one eye on my work and one eye on the bits and bobs he is holding up and both ears on what he is saying. I have now seen tools used in WW2 where they could come apart with a spanner so they could be cleaned. I have seen old needles used to stitch people up and know that the thread used to be made of silk. I have also seen the best thing of all-a PIP breast implant. I dont know how aware everyone is about them but basically they aren't made of medical grade silicon and have been creating big problems for women as they leak and burst etc. Here the women are trying to make the NHS responsible for replacing them, even though private agencies put them in. Anyways its a big scandal...I watch this man fondle an implant, replace it in the drawer, and frown disapprovingly at his hands now completely covered in leaky PIP silicon. How women can sleep at night with these things in is beyond me.

With only 10 minutes to go until home time, I become the office hero and finish all the envelopes, having stuck, stuffed, sealed, counted, and organized all 800 or so, ready to be mailed out the next day. (Whether or not they are going to the right places with the right postage remains to be seen, I was flying through them so fast I dont know if my brain actually kept up with my hands). All of the ladies in the office were shocked, apparently no one else they had gotten to do the job had ever finished it all in one day and they had been left to finish it themselves, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid-the point in being given a task is to complete it. So I left the office having well earned my 7.50 an hour and ready for a pint with my man. Nothing but good reviews from the BAPRAS ladies which also makes me wonder what kind of envelope stuffers they had employed previously...

Oh, gotta go, have just been called for work, and I only have a couple of hours to get ready and get there, I will have another post up soon!

your diva abroad x


  1. Hey shana.. we are back in the french riviera after four days in paris.. it was amazing.. we got to see, eiffel tower, arch de triumph, the louve, notre dam, versielle. loved it all.. good to see you had some work is there anything more perminent yet? hows ben? drop us a line and let us know whats going on. love mom and dad

  2. hi shan, keep going girl, very proud of you and yesss, miss you very much. your working here and there is awesome, and yes you still have lots of time to work every thing out. take time for you and big ben, sit when you can with a cup of tea and focus on your sucesses of the day.love you ..dad X X X o O X X x x x

  3. Hey guys thanks for the comments, glad you had a good time in Paris, its fun and there is lots to see! Nothing permanent work wise yet, tomorrow I will be finishing my first almost full week and there may be something else in the works, we will see, my agent is awesome and always calls me first with work. Ben is fine, working hard like always, he was sick again last week, worse even with a bad fever, so hopefully we will be done with illness for now! Ps Dad, thanks for that message, it was exactly what I needed to hear when I read it. love you guys! xoxo