Archive for June, 2010

Homeless in America

June 26, 2010

No, not me – or anyone I know personally but I wonder how many people watched the Channel Four programme ‘Unreported World’ last night.

It had to compete with the World Cup and Wimbledon and so the audience would have been small but it really deserved a prime time spot.

Why isn’t the media full of these stories of middleclass Americans made homeless by the recent shenannigans in the banking world?

Some of them still have a job but can’t afford a home.

One man spends a large proportion of his wage on a gym subscription so that he can have a daily shower and look smart for work.

The ‘homeless shelters’ are over subscribed and the ‘lucky’ ones who get a place are given 120 nights to find somewhere to live.

But, for the vast majority, there is nowhere else and they end up in ‘tent cities’.

There are food parcels for the very poorest but many people who are still working cannot afford to feed their families so charitable institutions have set up food distribution centres which are now finding it difficult to cope with the demand.

It wasn’t easy for the reporter to find people willing to talk on camera because  many were too ashamed to admit their hardship and hadn’t even told their friends and families about their predicament.

One couple bravely allowed the cameras in to take a look around their lovely home which they soon had to leave with nowhere to go.

The authorities must be aware of this situation but why are they ignoring it – pretending it isn’t happening?

Most importantly, why aren’t they doing something to help?

There are streets full of boarded up houses. In this kind of an emergency why can’t they allow people to live in them – rent free – until things improve.

Why can’t they force the banks to stop foreclosing on homes and businesses that can’t pay when it’s all down to bankers’ greed and incompetence in the first place? Theses are serious, hardworking people out on the street through no fault of their own.

Is it really beyond the capabilities of politicians to come up with a few ideas to alleviate the suffering of these people?

Or don’t they care?

I’ve just found this interesting video explaining the banking system. It’s long but well worth watching. It seems that  the present system relies on lending ‘virtual money’ which is paid back by the workers in real money. At first the banks were only allowed to lend 2 or 3 times more money than they could cover but now the sky’s the limit thanks to corruption and bribery in high places.

So, if the money they lend is non-existent why should people have to pay it back?

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Job Interviews

June 22, 2010

Some weeks ago a friend told us that  her boyfriend’s mother attended English classes in town and their teacher was leaving, so they were looking for someone to do six to eight hours a week.

She asked if  CC  would be interested in applying but as she  has been promised a two month contract for September she couldn’t take it on.

So I thought I’d give it a try.

When I looked up the Association she gave me it came under the umbrella of  the Chamber of Commerce. I phoned to inquire whether they were looking for an English teacher and, although she seemed a little taken aback, the lady invited me to send in my CV and a ‘lettre de motivation’.

As I heard nothing I assumed they weren’t interested and the next time I spoke to Sandrine I told her I had applied but heard nothing. She was surprised as she had spoken to her ‘almost’  mother-in-law and it seemed she hadn’t heard anything about my application.

By coincidence, the lady from the Chamber of Commerce telephoned shortly after to invite me for interview on the 21st at 17.00 so, naturally, I thought my CV and letter had been ‘found’.

So, yesterday I was all prepared for the experience of a job interview – something I’d long forgotten all about.

But that morning I found an email from Sandrine’s mother-in-law asking if I could meet with her at ten past three in the entracne hall of the building where the classes take place. She had given me her telephone number so I rang immediately.

It seems that the classes she is involved with are subsidised by the Chamber of Commerce but run by another association and it’s up to them to find a new teacher themselves.

Oh well – two interviews in one afternoon.

Jay kindly drove me into town and deposited me at the given address where I waited in the lavish entrance hall  until two well dressed ladies came through the door and introduced themselves. They invited me to sit on one of the upright but comfy chairs and then moved two more of them to sit opposite me. It only needed a desk  between us and the interview room would have been complete.

After the questions and chat they took me to see the classroom where the present teacher was taking the advanced class.  The job entails three classes of one hour from 9 till twelve, a two hour lunch break and three more classes in the afternoon – the last one being for two hours.

They seemed to think that I would fit the bill but have to clear it with the committee. They will let me know at the end of the month.

Jay brought me home again as there was too much  time to kill before the next interview.

At five o’clock I was sitting in an office at the Chamber of Commerce with one French and one English interviewer. They were both very pleasant and seemed to find the ‘mix-up quite amusing. The work that they were offering would be temporary assignments  to help out when necessary. That  would be ideal as I wouldn’t want to take on another permanent commitment  in addition to Mondays and the voluntary classes at the library on Tuesdays but the occasional chance to earn a few extra euros wouldn’t be sneezed at.

So, at the ripe old age of 65 I could be back to work in September.

New House.

June 5, 2010

See how they’ve grown:

which meant that their indoor cage was getting too small for them – and incredibly smelly despite being cleaned every day.

After another attempt at moving them back indoors I cheated and called on one of the boys from next door but one to climb into the pen and hand them to me so that I could take them indoors – one at a time.

After watching this long drawn out ‘game’,  Bear decided it was time to assemble the new house.

“It will only take me half an hour.” he said.

So on Friday morning he started and swore at me if I tried to help.

“I don’t tell you how to do knitting, sewing or cooking,” he spluttered.

However, progress was slow so I couldn’t resist finding out what was happening.

He had put one bolt in without attaching the side and back of the henhouse  and was scratching his head as to why the other end wouldn’t marry up.

He was about to drill another hole when I noticed the problem and pointed it out.  So, I could be useful after all and it was a bit quicker with two.

All the same, it was late afternoon before the chicks were installed in the pen which was now adjoining their new home.

I thought they would be curious and want to explore  it but they were extremely suspicious. This didn’t bode well for ‘bedtime’.

Bear, on the other hand, fell asleep, exhausted from his carpentry,

but there were still a few screws missing – such as the ones holding the roof on!

At ten o’clock when I went to put the big hens to bed they were nicely ‘tucked in’   their house but the ‘babies’ were showing no signs of  going into their  bedroom. I tried tempting them with food and even put a couple I managed to catch into the nest box, deliberately leaving the doors open so that they could see it wasn’t trap like the cat basket.

No, they began to make their little chirpings  which, to me, sound as though they are stressed. Eventually it seemed as though they were trying to escape. Some flew up to the roof of the pen, others tried pecking at the wire netting while a couple even looked as though they were attempting to  tunnel themselves out underneath the henhouse.

Fifteen minutes later they were huddled in a corner of the pen near the door – looking and sounding most upset.  From this position I was able to catch them easily. In fact I felt they were waiting in hopes of being  carried back to the conservatory.

I closed the henhouse doors and gently popped them into the nesting box, one by one.

The chirping gradually subsided  and they settled down.

This morning they seemed none the worse for their traumatic house move and jumped out into the sunshine as soon as I opened the door.

Fingers crossed they will go indoors more willingly tonight.