As this crazy year draws to a close, the Christian household prepares for our first real Christmas in seven years. I thought I’d sit back in my favourite armchair, put on some tunes, pour myself a nice glass of rum, relax in front of a roaring fire (courtesy of YouTube) and look back over my last 12 months.
This year started as the previous ones had done, with a very late night, working hard until the small hours on New Year’s Eve. This was closely followed by another busy day in the pub trying my best to socialise and interact with regulars and the ‘down from London for the holidays hooray’ types enjoying an extended break from their jobs in the city. Little did I know what was round the corner for me and for the hospitality trade in general …
March brought the beginning of a global pandemic that was to change everyone’s lives. I shut down the pub on 20th with the general manager, not knowing if or when we would be able to open again. I drove home that night to batten down the hatches, so to speak, and to brace for what was in store for our little family during the lockdown period. I didn’t realise then, that I would never return.
This was mainly due to Mrs Bob reading some of my newer poems and suggesting that we should put another book together.
After the success of (Re)Mixtapes earlier in the year, I decided to make the best of the lockdown and settle into a new creative routine. I began writing some of what Mrs Bob says is my best poetry.
While we waited to see what the future had in store for us, I decided to work on another anthology with a view to releasing it in March or April 2021. In the end, it was called iHuman, and it was released in November!
Mrs Bob was there next to me the whole time, cooking, baking, making jam and chutneys, staying up til midnight to get food delivery slots, and keeping things ticking over in the house. She helped me work on each piece, and they practically fell out of me. We painted several rooms, fences and the shed. We cleared out the shed and almost every cupboard in the house. We walked around the houses locally every day, and grew tomatoes, chillis, broad beans and a lemon bush from seed. We actually had a lovely time and talked a lot.
As lockdown began to lift, we started to emerge into this strange new world of one-way shopping, social distancing, masks and sanitiser. After a long talk with Mrs Bob, I took the brave decision to leave the hospitality trade and look for a new career choice. Should I go back into logistics, warehouse management? Perhaps I could go back to my roots and my first love of engineering. I got in touch with an agency that helps disabled people to find work or to retrain in another field. So, with that in mind I was booked into a training company to get a forklift license again, as they’re only valid for three years at a time. This in itself was a highly stressful thing to do. I hate tests, and meeting new people, and on top of that, it was in Exeter, which I didn’t know at all. Well, the good news is that the course wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and there were only two other people on it. I did pass the test and got my license… that was another string to my bow.
Then, as you will already know if you read my ramblings, I managed to secure a position within a disability-friendly company called Devon Disability Collective. This has been the best career move I’ve made for quite a number of years now. To be honest, I’m so happy there, I’m hoping I can stay for years. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, it feels fateful that I found it.
So as I look forward to the first real Christmas that I’ve had off since I got married seven years ago, it’s with a sense of happiness and contentment that, despite everything this crazy year has thrown at us, I can honestly say that it’s drawn Mrs Bob & I closer together. It’s shown me that there *is* life after the service industry. I just needed to take that difficult first step to go and the even harder step of believing in my own abilities.
I know that I’m amongst a small percentage of people that have managed to land on my feet after leaving the service industry. For this, I count my blessings every day. I’m very thankful for the love and support of Mrs Bob and members of our family.
So was this year draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to say to each and every one of you: thank you for your support with reading my blog, buying my books, and your company online this year.
I really hope that you are healthy, warm and not lonely this Christmas. Have a blessed holiday season, and a happier new year next year.
Stay Safe X