A time of changes
I’m pleased to announce that I got the Leicester job! I start on 7th July as a software test analyst for a company called Bellrock (previously known as SGP, and not to be confused with the Austrian rail engineering firm Simmering Graz Pauker). They used to be part of the Johnsons dry cleaning group, and are big in facilities management outsourcing; I realise that outsourcing is not flavour of the month amongst some of my old comrades, but needs must when the Devil bites yer bum, as they say.
The Sheffield job, which I interviewed for on the same day as I did the phone interview for Bellrock, hasn’t come back to me, though I understand that the guy who was making the decision has been on holiday all this week and didn’t anticipate taking a decision much before the first week in July. In any case: that job was as near as makes no difference a test manager role, which would have stretched my abilities and knowledge a lot. I would have to have done a lot of mugging up on test techniques and management just to keep one step ahead of everyone else, and whilst they would almost certainly have offered more money and probably thrown in a relocation package of some sort, the simple fact is that I would have been very uncomfortable operating at the edge of my comfort zone. I know that some people say that if the job’s a challenge, say ‘yes’ and learn how to do it as you go along; but that’s a high-risk strategy when you’ve not got much of a support network in an area. Oh, and a friend who works there tells me that Sheffield has become very expensive lately – and he’s an architect, so not short of a bob or two! (Certainly, what research I did on accommodation in the area bears that out, with 1-bed apartments going for anything up to £650 pcm…)
Up until I went to Leicester for the face-to-face interview, the job sounded fairly run-of-the-mill; but when I went to Bellrock, the guys there seemed enthusiastic about what I was saying, and they appear to have such a wide range of clients and different situations that there will be plenty of variety in the sort of applications I’ll be testing. They are also positioning themselves to expand, which can only be to the good.
Bellrock are based in a 60s office block on the western edge of Leicester. The building itself is in a bit of a time-warp, but it is marked for demolition in the next year and relocation is on the cards. And relocation is much on my mind right now, as well.
The simple truth is that I can’t really afford to live in Fillongley any more. Apart from the impact that nine months without full-time work has had on my ability to pay the mortgage, my house costs a fortune to heat and I haven’t been able to keep up with the maintenance in any meaningful way. And even if I did stay, in about five years’ time the bank would be coming to me to ask how I propose to pay back the outstanding capital sum, to which my reply would have to be “You surely jest.” Something like ten years ago, when I realised that my pay was not keeping pace with the increase in costs in the economy, I switched to an interest-only mortgage as a temporary measure, just until I got the promotion I felt was out there waiting for me. That’s “temporary measure” in the sense that income tax was adopted during the Napoleonic Wars as a temporary measure…
After my parents died, people in the village asked me if I intended keeping the house on, and my reply was “I’ll stay for as long as I’m able.” I should have moved away possibly five or six years ago, but I’m beginning to understand that one of my faults is an excess of loyalty to a place, or a job, or (sometimes) a person. Just as I ought to have cut free from Ofwat earlier than I did, when it became clear that the organisation had nothing more to offer me, so I should have cut the ties with Fillongley before now.
Of course, there is an emotional cost to be paid. I’ve lived in this house since 1986, and it holds a lot of memories for me. It’s in a super location, too. But I’ve worked through all that, and I really cannot see my way clear to staying here. I shall be earning enough in the new job to pick up the mortgage again, but that only defers the eventual decision.
So the house is now on the market, and I’ve already had a number of viewings, one of which was sufficiently positive for me to hope that they might put an offer in. And in the meantime, I’ve been looking at renting a flat somewhere between the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton and the M1 outside Leicester – that means that my search is concentrated on Hinckley and takes in places like Barwell, Earl Shilton and Sapcote, amongst others. Even if I went all the way up to a rental equivalent to what I was paying in mortgage, I should still be better off as my heating costs will be at least halved, and that represents a significant saving; and the new job will pay what I was earning at Ofwat, but with the difference that whereas the pay I was on at Ofwat was something I had spent 30 years struggling up to, I’m starting from the same point at Bellrock.
So the house is getting uncluttered, the shredder is working overtime, and I am up to my neck in cardboard boxes and parcel tape. I’ve already shifted a vast amount of stuff out to a storage unit a couple of miles away (which I can actually see from the front of the house!). It’s in some old farm buildings which have been converted to storage and small industrial units, and it’s run by a character not unlike a member of the Grundy family in “The Archers”, which is actually fine for a rural area. it will be a big change, though I’ve got time to acclimatise – I doubt I shall have enough money for a deposit and bond money much before the end of August or even September. I suspect this also means that I will have to miss the World SF Convention in London, or at the most only do a couple of days there, but we shall see.
Onward to pastures new!