Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hobson's Choice

I don't write about personal stuff on here very often because it's, well, personal, and therefore likely to be reasonably dull. However, this has been an - euphemism alert - interesting week at work, which might affect the amount of time I have for riding, so here goes. I did ride my bike earlier too so you never know, that might get a mention as well.

Business has been a bit slow for my employer since Christmas. In common with some other small consultancies, we're struggling to beat the big boys at the moment, despite winning a really prestigious industry award last month, and we're trading at a loss. In a firm of any size that obviously can't go on indefinitely, but in one of 12 people the time for action rolls around a little sooner. And so it was that we were gathered at our Hemel Hempstead head office on Thursday, and told that the firm needs to half its cost base by the end of June. We're a consultancy, where the overwhelming source of cost is people, so you can guess what's next. Actually, the situation has been handled really well so far by the management team, and rather than starting a consultation process to ask people to leave straightaway, they've asked for volunteers to accept a) voluntary redundancy, b) an unpaid leave of absence, or c) reduced hours.

None of these options is fantastically palatable I suspect for most people in the company. We've got two weeks to make our minds up how to respond. I've had a mixture of reactions, mostly involving me modelling a range of scenarios to see what would happen if I volunteered for nothing. That becomes a game of poker of course, guessing who's going to do what, and how that would affect me. I think I'm not going to opt to take the calculating, even cynical route however - I'm going to work out how to make this situation benefit me, and for the company too to be fair, for I absolutely want it to survive this and get stronger again. I've a shrewd idea of what I'm going to suggest, but it wouldn't be right to reveal here, not least because I've no idea what the outcome will be, which not only depends on other people in the company, but also what work we win over the next two weeks.

So why am I telling you this? Well of course regardless of what I volunteer for, if anything, I could find myself with plenty more time on my hands soon! But also I guess for two other reasons. First, it just doesn't feel like the end of the world. I've lost no sleep about it, and seem to have a completely que sera sera attitude to the whole thing, a little bit to my surprise. Second, blogs that focus on hobbies/pastimes, call cycling and running what you will, can sometimes take on a slightly detached-from-reality feel sometimes. But they don't exist in a vacuum; we all have other stuff going on, and sometimes it's good to include that too, particularly when it's something that whilst serious, isn't depressing either.

Talking of not being depressing, me and Mrs M went to a Eurovision party last night, and had a fine time, despite the fact that some wires had got slightly crossed, and I was the only person to talk up in true fancy dress. I was particularly taken by the Greek entry (song title: Alcolhol Is Free), sung and performed by a ska/punk/folk band of gentleman dressed in skirts. Well, I need no second invitation to don a skirt (and it was a skirt rather than a kilt), especially when an exact replica of the skirts worn on the band's video is in my local Barnardo's for £2.99. Size 16 admittedly when I'm more of 12, but nothing that braces and a safety pin couldn't sort out. In for a penny, in for a pound, so I danced along with them too when the song was performed, with an energy that doesn't come easily after 90 hard minutes on the turbo trainer, a mountain of Indian food, and half a bottle of red wine. Friends, Eurovision, its Twitter feed, lovely food and red wine - there can be few finer evenings.

Oh yes, I rode my bike today too. I decided it was time for some extended climbing, so did the 7 miles from the centre of Macc up the "Cat & Fiddle", in a very good time and without coming out of the big ring. I then suffered like a dog for the next 40 miles, so more fool me. Today's roadkill of choice....rabbit. Dozens of deceased bunnies; poor buggers must be hungry or something. Or the bunny rabbit Class of 2013 is even thicker than the usual vintage. Anyway, the ride was warm, fast and useful, if how tired I feel now is a reliable guide.

On that note, I'm off to see if I can find any pics of today's Giro stage, which was snowy and freezing by all accounts. Ciao!

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