It has been a LOT of year hasn’t it. Omicron, the invasion of Ukraine, Partygate, inflation run wild and a cost of living crisis, three Prime Ministers – including a Liz Truss cameo, two Monarchs. Kanye. Elon.
Just to name a few things – I’m sure I missed some biggies!
Despite all that from a personal point of view it ended up being a good year after a bumpy start.
All the nonsense in January and February trying to sort out returning to work at TPX was pretty annoying and a little stressful but truth be told it worked out pretty well for me so no harm, no foul.
All my (ongoing) problems with the electrics in the flat after the refurb have been a bit of a nightmare but especially so back in February which really did drive me to distraction – my electrician getting Covid half way through with cables literally hanging from holes in the ceiling for weeks.
Catching Covid myself again in March and having a pretty rough time with it was suboptimal. Especially the week before I returned to work with UKHSA.
The UKHSA experience was a mixed bag. Was great to get back to work and knock off the rust after all that time off and the people I met in my short time there were great and it was lovely to work with Sophie again and Jason for the first time. That said the way the ‘purge’ of people was handled after the Spending Review was horrible despite the best efforts of the people I was working with and while I suspect I could have stayed longer it just didn’t feel appropriate when people who had worked all through the Test and Trace crisis days were being let go. So in the end I think I was there for eight weeks (spread over 10 maybe). It got me off the proverbial couch though and gave me the impetus to start applying for perm roles.
My reaction to the UKHSA rollercoaster was to revisit some of my disrupted travel plans from 2020 and smush them together for a trip to Miami and Austin – for Wyndham Walls (and neighbourhood) and the ATX Television Festival. Despite the ridiculous heat and humidity this was an amazing trip with a mix of spectacular graffiti and television nerdom plus a lot of great street food.
Scheduling interviews as soon as I got back from Texas was not my best move – I was soooooooo jetlagged in one of them that honestly who knows what I said but I managed to pull it together for the others the following day.
In the end I had formal offers from BT, DIT and a consultancy who shall remain nameless. I also had another contractor position lined up in local government. The DIT role had the lowest salary (by a scary amount compared to the consultancy and contractor roles) but the job description was a great fit and I got a really nice vibe from the interview (the same from BT as well actually re the vibe – I was very, very tempted but the role itself was less aligned with what I wanted to do next) so I decided that I’d reverse the trend of everybody I knew and return to the Civil Service.
As it turned out the paperwork to get me in was slow going so I found myself with a window for another holiday – this time taking advantage of an impulse buy of a first-class InterRail ticket thanks to intelligence from Sharon O’Dea! This was a real (middle-aged) adventure. I visited Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Munich, Zurich and Paris in three weeks – mainly hitting up graffiti/street art spots with the occasional addition of a bit of more traditional tourism. It was a fantastic trip – one I am very thankful I got the opportunity to experience.
I got my start date for DIT just as I was preparing to return to the UK so the timing was perfect. My first day was the first of September – which was my first proper day in an office since March 2020 (though I did do an office based half day retro on my final day at UKHSA) and in London. Our HQ – the Old Admiralty Building – is pretty intimidating from the outside through to reception but once you get to the servants quarters on the top floor (or so I assume) where DDaT reside it is pretty recognisably a Government digital space.
I’ve really enjoyed the role so far – almost four months in. My team is great – smart and good humoured and I have a wonderful boss and a nice mix of people in leadership and peer positions. I’ve mentally chafed a bit at being so narrowly focused on Product only and being remote from delivery…but that is what I wanted so can’t really complain…and inevitably I’ve finangled my way into some other areas I care about – especially Service Assessments and working in the open.
Being a Civil Servant again has mainly been comfortable but occasionally challenging. There is a lot going on in the country and the world that I would usually want to comment on but I’ve had to remind myself of my responsibilities as a public servant a time or two. That said, given the speed in which Twitter is imploded I suspect anything I would have said would have been lost amongst the debris.
We had my nan’s 100th birthday in our local pub – where she once worked (as did my dad). I was in charge of the cake and it was the most stressed I’ve been in years!
Including this post I managed to publish 52 blogposts this year (so far) across two blogs. 28 of which were #weeknotes. I sent out 55 of my jobs newsletters. I tried out Post.News and Hive and dusted off Tumbr as potential Twitter replacements but ended up on Mastodon like everybody else. I posted 174 times to Instagram – and misused Stories too often annoying my handful of followers there.
I’ve read 31 books so far- I should make that 33 at least by New Years Eve.
By Thursday I will have worn 15 different Christmas themed tops in December. Ho. Ho. Ho.