Monday, 8 September 2008

Final stretch

Zimmer frame sculpture of two figures
Since I've been home I've been gearing up for the new term by cleaning the house. Four weeks away makes our usually grubby dwelling look much worse, especially as the mess doesn't seem to affect Mr A so he ignores it, or more accurately, contributes to it.

I'm ready now to end the story of the placement experience. The final days in Rotherham were OK, I didn't have much to do because I'd got all the workbook done already, and there was just the final review and feedback to receive before being allowed to go home. Both of us 'A' placement students were asked to come to the office at 10 am. This gave me the chance to get my second Hepatitis B jab and hand the keys of my room back to the warders before turning up.

I was at the office well in time, but nothing whatever happened until 11 o'clock, when the other student was asked to go in. When she emerged at 11.30, it turned out that the manager had another appointment, so would I wait? Only for 15 minutes, as it turned out, and it was my turn.

Unexpectedly, I was asked first what I thought my strengths and weaknesses were. I was expecting feedback from them rather than input from me, and made up something feeble as a strength and then couldn't think of anything at all to say in the weakness department. We moved on.

After some relevant and constructive criticism about my communication style, I started to smile when told that perhaps I should improve my cooking skills. At this point I was very keen to get out of there and go home, so I wasn't about to argue. The point was repeated a bit later in the interview, and again, I just smiled politely.

The manager said "Would you mind if I asked you something personal?"

I said I didn't mind. She asked me if I normally cooked for myself at home.

This was all because of the buffet I made. The requirement was to produce a lunch costing no more than £1.50 a head, based on the principles of healthy eating and the Eatwell plate. It should have a fat-reduced savoury option and a sugar-reduced sweet option, and these should be labelled with energy, fat, carbohydrate and protein content.

I asked lots of the dietitians if they had any advice or suggestions for what I should do, or could tell me what other students had done before. The main advice I received was "don't knock yourself out", "keep it simple", "the easier it is for you the better". So I'd decided I'd go for the quiche, salads and jelly that I wrote about before. Up until the last minute I was going to make quiches, but there was a '2 for £3' offer in the shop, so I bought them instead.

I told the manager that not only did I cook for myself at home, but I would never in a million years have served the buffet at home, but since I met all the set criteria I took the advice I'd been given, and made it easy on myself by buying ready made food rather than spending the weekend cooking.

"Who gave you that advice?" she asked.

"Several different members of the department," I said.

"Could you give me their names?"

I was slightly taken aback. I felt that if I gave any names, they would probably be targeted in some way, probably unpleasant. So I said no, I wouldn't give her any names.

She then asked if I would tell the dietetic assistant, who was also in the meeting with us. Of course I refused, and then she asked again.

"I'd like to know who gave you that information," she said.

By this time, I was quite enjoying myself. We'd touched on the uniform issue earlier in the meeting, when she'd told me that if I returned for one of the longer placements then there would be no compromise with the dress. So I thought she probably wasn't used to being contradicted or not getting her own way, and it was quite fun to carry on doing it.

"I'm not going to tell you who I talked to," I said. She looked fierce, but could do nothing more.

So that was it, they eventually let me go and I drove away with a song in my heart and a spring in my step, so to speak. Coming home was great, we treated ourselves to a glass of wine in Wilde's, dinner in Sushi Ya for the first time (it was good but pricey), then had a drink in the Cricketers (I haven't raved about the pub for a while, perhaps I'll do that again soon). Came back, watched QI then went to bed. A perfect evening.


Dick Madeley said...

Ah, a wonderful tale! How good it is to stand up to petty authority. You must be part Madeley. You did well. I'm so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

You'd make a perfect journalist, not revealing your sources. ;)

Ian said...

The last time someone asked me for my weakness I divulged that I am quite vulnerable to bullets. I should’ve come up with something wittier such as, “my inability to stop feasting on human flesh”.

As for not giving in to your interrogator: way to stick it to the (wo)man! I'm sure the remainder of her day was not as pleasant as yours.

Lola said...

Dick - It was a very small and unimportant victory, but as you say, felt good anyway.

Marjolein - I'm getting quite good at not revealing sources and identities in this blog!

Ian - Love it! I can't imagine what would have happened if I'd used one of your weaknesses. Perhaps next time, if I'm braver.

Lola II said...


Among the aluminium frames
there lives a girl called many names:
By her parents - Ruth, or Mavis...
- Daphne, by Miss Vera Davis.
Even David might think whether
she is REALLY Auntie Heather!!!

On her birthday she was gone,
so we called her on the phone.
(If night has fallen, so they say,
it is the start of the next day).
And as our song went down the line
we clicked our shiny tubes in time:
We may be older, fatter, dimmer...
But we love you more than our Zimmer!

WYL 26.2.90

Sally said...

I am still belly laughing about you and the cooking. Lola you are just about the best cook I know! Did you not tell her you had been on a cordon bleu vegetarian cookery course!
With a budget like that and the parameters it was a set up! Cheap, healthy and tasty does not exist!