Half of me is pleased to have been able to get so het up about something other than the obvious; the other half has been rolling its eyes and telling me to snap the hell out of it. So I listened to the latter. And I’m pleased I did.
The bottom line, I suppose, is that I – nay, we – have been feeling a bit ‘what now?’. With a remaining calendar year in which I’m not due to be back in hospital for anything other than routine check-ups, the one-step-at-a-time approach to life in which P and I been forced to become so skilled suddenly seems a bit useless when you’re looking at a future of, well, what, exactly?
This was always going to happen, of course. And, actually, I’m beginning to wonder whether I’d subconsciously anticipated it happening because, since the turn of the new year, I – nay, we – have been secretly making plans for our giant question mark of a future. Given that, among our family-raising contemporaries, we feel a bit like a cryptic riddle to which there is as yet no answer, the most obvious way in which P and I have been able to assess our future, then, is through our work. Or, in this case, my work. Hence, as of later this week, I will officially be freelance, trading words for money. Or gin.
When asked why I’ve taken this decision, the best answer I’ve been able to give is ‘it’s time’. The extended version of that, I suppose, is that – much as I’d like them to be – my health issues aren’t the kind that can be contained within a specific time period. So though my tumour may have been removed and my bust may have been reinstated, I still need to dedicate as much time and energy as I’m able to keeping myself well. And given that even as little as a three-day working week in central London tends to conclude with a subsequent 24 hours in hot baths and pyjamas, I dare say that keeping well is something I’ll be able to do best while working on a freelance basis.
To the outside eye, this might look like I’m simply saying cheers and ta-ra to the company who supported me through The Bullshit at a time when I’ve been freed from worrying about it quite as much as I have during the last three years. But, in truth, while I’ve been forced to take periods of time out of the office, I’ve never actually been away from my work. That’s not me tooting my own horn and professing how marvellously productive I’ve remained during my treatment and surgery; that’s me stating, in the most ludicrously overdue fashion, that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a company who’ve allowed me to feel valued, useful and included from a distance that was caring without being smothering. So yes, this is undoubtedly the right decision. But, by ’eck, it hasn’t been an easy decision to make.
It’s doing contract publishing marvels Forward Ltd a disservice that this is the first time I’ve mentioned them on Alright Tit. But what I hope you’ll realise by the end of this post is that, actually, they’ve been here all along. They’ve been the New York in Sex and the City; the cobbles in Coronation Street; the forgettable glass door in which you check your reflection when shopping on Regent Street. (And if you think that’s soppy, you should have seen my resignation letter.)
But whether you take this post as a long-overdue message of thanks or another example of my hopelessly ass-kissing nature, what you can’t fail to agree with is that, in experiences from labour to leisure, it’s more likely that you’ll leave a negative review than a positive one. Hence few people I know have escaped my rants about the loos at Lancashire Cricket Ground or the time Tills and I found a caterpillar in a salad in Selfridges, just as I barely let any conversation go by without mentioning my relief that I wasn’t in one of my many previous jobs at the time at which I was diagnosed.
The other issue with this Great British Whinge-Off, I suspect, is that it’s simply not cool to say how lovely a time you’re having at work. Surely most pubs exist on the very basis that people will go there to moan about their employers? I mean, where’s the entertainment in telling someone how much you like your boss? Great comedies aren’t built on contentedness. Imagine the panning Fawlty Towers would have received had Basil been managing a nice little AA-Rosetted B&B from the Mr & Mrs Smith guidebook.
Another reality I ought to declare, then, is that it’s easy to find the good in things when you’ve been through something as life-changing as The Bullshit – it’s just one of the special gifts bestowed on surviving cancer patients, a bit like The Force for the broken. But I urge you to put all of the above on one side for a moment, and take at face value the fact that, if this were an Oscars acceptance speech, the recipients of the none-of-this-would-have-been-possible-without mention would have to be my employers.
As I stated in the aforementioned love-note of a resignation letter, working for Forward has been an overwhelmingly positive experience – and it’s really saying something that I’m leaving my position with only good things to say about a period of my career in which the personal life that’s gone alongside it has been, well, disproportionately shitty. They’ve allowed me the time to be ill and the time to recuperate; they’ve never minded whether my work has come from a desk or a duvet; they’ve been unquestionably supportive of my blog and book. And yet it’s taken me until now to say so.
But, in the spirit that all good things must come to an end (not to mention the spirit of feeling the fear and doing away with 90 minutes on the Piccadilly Line), I’m moving on, in the hope that I’ve done even a fraction of the justice to Forward that it has done to me. The cynical or mocking or unhappily employed among you might think that they bunged me an extra week’s holiday to say that but, in actual fact, I dare say they’ll be as embarrassed that I’m writing this as I am to have made such a tit of myself at that Halloween party on the fourth floor.
There’s not a lot that’s gone unsaid on this blog. But, until now, the place at which I worked was among the unspoken. And while it’s too late to rewrite the book and cram in mentions of my company between admissions of surgeon-crushes and descriptions of melon-twisting, it’s not too late to tell you that, if you ever get the chance to work among the fantastic folk at Forward, well – you’d be backward not to.
And if, in the meantime, you fancy hiring me to write some words… who knows, I might one day end up posting that kind of gush-fest about you too. For the requisite money, anyway. Or gin.