To anyone who has been following this story from the beginning: You may remember that the character narrating the story gave his name as David Jonathan Pearce. In retrospect, the name makes him sound more like a right-wing member of Parliament than a redundant ex-marketing manager. Please forgive me if I rename him retrospectively as Paddy Davenport.
I switched on my tablet and did an internet search to check the price and availability. The new basic PlayStation was now in stock in a couple of places but there were accessories that he’d need if he were to be able to play virtual games with teammates – thing like a second controller, headphones and a special camera. It seemed like a lot of money – redundancy pay or otherwise, and we’d already bought the mobile phone which had been our first idea of a present for him. We talked it through: would we be spoiling him? Would it set a precedent? Would it make it impossible to afford a proper holiday next year? By now, we were wide awake, but we decided to order the complete set of things he’d need as a package. I clicked to put the items into my online basket, clicked on the Checkout icon and placed the order. We looked at each other, still wondering if we’d done the right thing, then Helen put her arms around my neck and kissed me. “Thank you,” she said.
It was a while before either of us managed to sleep.
A second seminar – preparing
The seminar was at the same Manchester hotel as last time. Even Beverly turned up – which I hadn’t really expected. Given her experience in HR, I’d have thought that she’d have known all there was to know about interviews from the other side of the table. All of our little enterprise group were early, so we all sat together in the Reception area awaiting our summons to enter the training room. They were all surprised to hear that I’d already had an interview. I was sorry that I’d said anything, in case it made those who hadn’t heard anything back from their applications feel bad. Beverly was interested in what I’d said about my impressions of it being an unhappy workplace, and in what Charlie had heard. She too thought that I should be careful. She’d heard of CEOs who regarded showing a willingness to sack employees as a good quality. She’d also heard of employers who doctored employees’ personnel records to suggest justifications for dismissing staff in case of someone daring to appeal.
During the lunchbreak we agreed to have a short meeting after the end of the seminar to discuss progress since our last meeting. The morning session had started with tips on applying for jobs – badly prepared applications would obviously be less likely to lead to interview offers. The second morning session had focused on things such as making sure to read job adverts thoroughly for clues as to what we might be asked about. This was all useful stuff, well-presented, but I’d have thought that, for people such as those present, it was a bit like grandma and the eggs.
The afternoon session was more useful, looking at different questioning techniques we could be faced with. This segment tied in with what had been said earlier about reading the paperwork that was available, and doing desk-research where it was possible. There was some syndicate work and some role playing too. I was quite impressed by how much we’d learned.
Afterwards, when our group assembled, it was clear that what I’d said last time had struck home. I was asked what my idea had been. I told them that it would be a rubbish idea for any kind of cooperative. I’d only mentioned it to bring out some harsh realities. My idea had been something that I could progress as an individual, but that a more successful idea for a cooperative would depend on something such as a community artisan bakery or a workshop refurbishing secondhand furniture. Something like that could begin locally, somewhere we could see a need, and where we could establish a reputation quickly. Ideally it would be something where the product could also attract online interest – where we could establish a brand name and logo. With something like that, our individual contributions could be linked more readily to joint success rather than by recharging our respective time contributions.
To start the ball rolling, I suggested a website design company or a computer services agency – there appeared to be a dearth of these in my area of Codmanton – though I couldn’t speak for elsewhere. I asked Susie and Ben what they thought of the idea. Both of them thought that it sounded interesting – though Ben thought that it was more in Susie’s line of work. I could see where he was coming from, which was why I’d mentioned computer services which could include website design in its repertoire.
They asked how I’d see that going forward. I told them that I’d see the project as depending on home based working initially, perhaps as a part-time adjunct to any full-time jobs we might have. We could share ideas and files via virtual conferencing such as ‘Zoom’ or Microsoft’s ‘Teams’. I felt that if the idea took off we’d probably require to hire time on a third-party fileserver. As regards the idea of computer services, I suggested that we could look at developing or managing systems for small companies. That could range from hosting third-party payroll systems and/or providing online personnel systems, such as screen-based job application systems, integrated with ways of managing recruitment information services. I looked at Jason and Beverly and asked them whether they could see the cooperative equivalent of a local bakery in what I was suggesting.
Susie raised the idea of providing seminars where we could choose a topic, provisionally book a venue, agree a price, and advertise it. Someone, or more than one of us, could lead the seminar – or we could recruit someone to do it for a fee. She suggested that fifteen to twenty clients at £300 a throw could upwards of £4,500 – more than enough to cover venue, refreshment and tutor costs. Alternatively, she proposed that we could design online seminars and sell them. All that would need would be someone with expertise, a suitable personality and an online channel. This was also a popular choice.
Both of them could see the possibilities in the ideas that had been suggested, but Beverly had noticed that the meeting had taken longer than she’d expected and she’d need to leave soon. We agreed to call it a day, but convened another meeting in the New Year.
Today I continue my series of Christmassy shots in black and white. My Featured Photo today is an image of St Paul’s Cathedral as seen from the One New Change shopping arcade in London. This arcade is located just higher up than the Millennium Bridge on the North side of the River Thames. I took this photo in early January 2020.
The EXIF Data for the featured photo are as follows: Pentax K-1 36MP full camera with a 15-30 mm f/2.8 lens at 29 mm and f/11. The shutter speed was 13/10 secs and the ISO was 100. The camera was tripod-mounted and the post-processing was in Lightroom.