10 months at Portsmouth Water

I’m learning to not argue with calendars — they’re all liars but I look crazy shouting at them — so in this spirit, it’s been 10 months since I started at Portsmouth Water! That’s nearly a year! A whole year of seasons and days and doing stuff. As I try and take this diary liar as gospel, I’m finding it a little hard to believe.

Sitting here I can’t help but compare what I know now with what I knew then; and as I did jump from the funeral ship and into the water, comparison just sort of lends itself to these bewildered moments.

The funeral home had challenges that the waterboard could never have — yes, there’s the odd formidable query in Customer Service but a muddled meter pales amid the daily grind of death. Death is stressful, an ungainly strain — it requires much of you, demands more than you’re able to lose. Water though, I don’t know — it’s water, innit? How can anyone get stressed? Of course people do but these tend to be those who haven’t paid their bills, and in the office things only start getting tense when a main bursts or the kettle’s out of order.

Maybe if I hadn’t left the funeral home under such a cloud I wouldn’t find comparison so easy between employers. The Southern Co-operative Funeralcare, through their negligence and inabilities, has ensured that I have nothing nice to say about them beyond the bare basics — ask me to clarify a point and Janis and Rosie, and their shit, doesn’t take long to surface. Portsmouth Water, on the other hand, have been nothing but good to me — they got given me in pieces and they laid out a board so I had something to put myself back together on (like a puzzle); they didn’t do much but then you never have to do much to help somebody. To be mean Made with Repix (http://repix.it)you have to be committed.

I was tainted goods, felt tainted — wasn’t whole — and looking back to my first days at Portsmouth Water, remembering the front I’d raised of smiles and the like, and moving forward through that time of adjustment to today and how I’m singing at people’s desks when I materialise to talk about the post, I’m astounded by how far I’ve come, and more than glad with the decisions I’ve made to get here.

I miss the funeral home, I do. I really quite liked the job and if you know me it was very much the sort of job I’d do, very much me ’cause I’m dark and weird, and I do like to help people and funeral homing achieved that good. With that said, I also quite liked being a nightclub manager back in my youth, and again it was very much the sort of job I’d do, very much me because I’m a night owl and like to feel important. Going along with this thread, it’s no hard reach to think Portsmouth Water might end up the same way, and of course writing — I’m nothing if not versatile.

Having started to confine the bad and negative in me to scheduled performances, allowing the good and positive some airtime, I’ve noticed a difference. It could be said that Portsmouth Water, or more my want to save face at Portsmouth Water, has forced me to makes changes in the way I manage my mind. I’m so much better than I was last May — I’m not conflicted, I’m quite cocksure now. I got an opinion that I’ll voice and voice quite loudly, if needs be. And I’ll confront if I’m not ‘aving it!, one of my many new ways to handle things. Now that Jeff has walked out on my mother I’m angry and my anger appears through my façade by about 4pm, I can’t seem to quell it until I get home, and when once I would’ve tried to keep this to myself, I’ve told my manager and team leader what’s happening, given a bit of reason to my bad mood, and have somewhat controlled what I can’t control.

They ask after my mum. Clare (manager) and Laura (team leader) have both pulled me aside to find out how she’s doing, how I’m doing after all that’s happened, and it’s all what would never have happened at the Co-op. My lunch buddy Sarah walks with me into town, and we talk and set the world to rights — I’m blunt in my righting while she’s a little more kind. There’s Becca (trainer) who’s interest in my last profession got me talking about it, got me recognising my past for what it was, for the good I’d done, etc. She got me seeing the funeral home not as I’d left it but as I’d always aimed it to be, a nice place full of humble memories. Then Tracy (trainer) who, at the beginning, took the time to understand why I was having such difficulties; took the time to show that not everyone is a heartless bully (like Janis, *cough). And finally, the rest of my colleagues have got me singing at their desks and sometimes they sing along with me, or curse me ’cause my song is stuck in their head, and it’s all upbeat. Very pleasant. Not a bad thing to do at all.

In closing, I still think calendars are liars — it’s nearly mid-March for fucks sake, that’s bullshit if I’ve ever smelt it — but a lot has improved over these supposed 10 months. I can take a lot of the credit for myself — most things I had to do for myself, I had to get control of me — and the rest of the credit goes to the people surrounding me. Myles, Shaun, Kayte, and my remaining close friends and family — the people I’ve met, the friends in the making — have all helped immeasurably.

So yeah, I’m quite happy — stunned it’s nearly a year but content and that’s the measure of things.

Tomos James