Lessons from my neighbour

February 25, 2012

Mr Happy character by Roger Hargreaves

February is fast becoming the month for life lessons.

I had an interview at the job centre today. Later, as I turned the corner to Pie Palace, I bumped into the cousin of my neighbour. I call my neighbour noisy reggae man and he’s an absolute diamond. His girlfriend on the other hand…

I was chatting with the cousin outside the block, when the door opened and noisy reggae man emerged with his bike. He came down the stairs to the street and we had a short exchange. The conversation went like this:

“How’s it going? You know, you always have a smile on your face.”

I hadn’t realised I displayed this countenance. Isn’t it funny how others see you? Anyway, I would soon bring daylight on that magic, as I replied:

“Oh, really? I don’t have much to smile about, but hey, what can you do?”

Why did I say that? I can be snarky on this blog, but generally I look for the positive and save my bile for the outrageous, stupid, criminal and corrupt. Don’t have much to smile about? I had a brilliant interview with the man at the job centre, who became my co-conspirator as we agreed the game this government wants us to play is silly, but we’ll play it anyway. I have work for Monday, which, if all goes well, could stretch to a full week, and a friend paid for me to go ice-skating, which, after having to give it up in December because I could no longer afford it, was priceless. Yes, the financial situation continues to be dire and it’s very stressful, but by all accounts, I’ve had a good week.

His response was swift and sure.

“Don’t say that! There’s plenty to be happy about. We’re here for a start. Look at the news! Those people don’t have much to be happy about. We have a lot to be happy about. Keep on smiling!”

Well hush my mouth… it certainly did.



  1. Hope the work for Monday stretches well beyond a full week.

    • I’d be happy enough for it to go the full week at this point. It’s not unusual for a short assignment to become a much longer one. I’ve had two week jobs stretch to several months before now, so who knows? A long player closer to the City and central London (in terms of travel and costs), would be ideal.

  2. You’re lucky to have someone to point that out…and smart to realize it’s true?

    Hush my mouth??

    • I think people point out stuff to us all the time, either covertly, or in this case, overtly, leaving you in no doubt. I’m not always the sharpest tool in the box, but I like to think I sharpen up when it counts.

      The way you put a double question mark after hush my mouth, made me wonder if I used it in the wrong context. I always understood it to be a brilliantly expressive way of saying I shouldn’t have said that, or well, blow me down. I had a look on t’internet and it seems to be a general exclamation of surprise. It’s from the South, right? I shouldn’t have watched so much schlocky TV when I was a young ‘un!

      • Oh no, that was perfect usage of “hush my mouth”.

        I think you’re ready for advanced stuff, like the versatile expression “bless your heart”. Bless your heart can be a way to wish the best for someone or to say that you believe that they’re a fool.

        • I know of the expression ‘Bless your heart’ in the complementary, and damning way. So much acid in that sugar!

  3. This, the human revolution we will surely do: well done!

    • Thanks. It was gentle, but powerful, nevertheless.

  4. Temping/short-term work can be a great adventure in managing cause and effect through people-pleasing. You can choose to be congenial. I believe that’s why work often continues beyond initial contract. People like having you around, so they look for more you can do. Here’s hoping you get more days.

    • Thanks for that, Mikey. You’ve articulated what I’ve known for some time. I always go down the congenial route when I’m at the workplace, which is why I get some unexpected long runners every now and then and some repeat business. Now I just need to make sure it’s consistent enough for me to be financially stable.

  5. HI Pie, thanks for following my blog and i’m going to follow yours for you.

    • Thanks for that, dribbling pensioner. Your blog is definitely worth following.

  6. Pie, Monday today and all best wishes to you!

    • Thank, Patti.

      I’m here to inform you, ladies and gentlemen, that after less than two hours working in that office I got the gig for the week. I had them at: “Pie ‘got’ the operation of our workflow system in less than ten minutes – brilliant!” There’s a small chance of a second week, but I’ll find out for sure by Friday.

      Damn, I’m good!

      • Yay, well done Pie and yes, damn you are good! Here’s to to the flow of work system operations!

  7. Great positive post! I am ashamed of being a ranter, but at least I make people laugh. Good luck with keeping a position. With that attitude you’ll go far.

    • I love a good rant, believe me – you sound like my kind of guy!

      Welcome to my blog. You’re more than welcome to comment again, whenever it takes your fancy.

      • By the way, Dan. on your next visit you may want to put the proper URL to your blog. For some reason you have ‘wordpress.com’ after ‘blogspot.com’ and clicking that link led me to something else that was definitely not a blog. For this reason, the link has been removed.

  8. Big congrats on getting your gig! I’m not surprised, they’re lucky to have you. I’m looking forward to finding out about next week. If they have the work and funds, they’ll definitely offer you long-term work.

    (BTW, we had a great time in London. It was fun to see things and recognize them from the pictures you took. Loved the Stock Pot!)

    • Thanks for your congrats, Jacki. I’ll be there for a second week now. After that, who knows?

      I’m glad you had a good time in London. Stockpot is one of my favourite cheap eats, so I’m really happy that you enjoyed your time there. No mention of buying some Piccadilly bad art. Does this mean you managed to resist the temptation, or that you’re too ashamed to admit you bought one?!

      • Somehow I managed to stay strong and resist the Picadilly art. Can you believe it? But it calls to me still.

        Good on you for your second week. I hope this becomes long term!

  9. When people ask me to smile I remind them that a smile in America is a frown in Australia. I also remind them that the inverse is true. Usually, this ends the conversation.

  10. Pie,

    Missing Pie and Biscuits lately and hoping all well in the fine land of Pie!

    • I’m fine, Patti. My one day work turned into a month and I’ve also been working elsewhere. The down side is I usually have so little time that my writing and the reading of and commenting on other blogs fall by the wayside. I really must get this time management thing licked. I will post one thing this week if it kills me!

      • I’m with Patti! Glad you got a month of work. Don’t feel pressured, we’ll look forward to hearing from you when you get the chance. (This is from Jacki, BTW.)

  11. Peoples minds are weird. It’s like if I get a compliment I reply with something negative, it’s weird, somewhere in my head I feel if I just say thanks and accept it that I’m being rude or egotistical. We must learn, it’s okay for a positive to be given to you.

    Keep smiling Pie 😀

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