1pm: Standing outside the factory redundant. P45 to follow.
As I cycle away from the factory, I am reminded of the old music hall song from the First World War, "We don't want to lose you, but we think you ought to go." So at 48 years minus two weeks it's time to start again. Wherever I go for the rest of the day, people I know say exactly the same thing. "What are you doing here at this time of day?" I am a creature of habit obviously. Elizabeth, my wife, is stunned but philosophical. She works, there aren't any small children running about, so no need to panic.
Strangely, the next day's newspaper has an article on being made redundant. The most important thing, apparently, is not to rush into anything but to decide what my assets are and what I really want to do. I tell Elizabeth that I really want to become a writer. She gives me a pitying look and says that she will pray to Saint Jude. My major asset appears to be that I've got a bicycle so I won't be able to resort to rioting and crime.
Having got my P45, I set off for the Social Security offices. I expect the office to be a graffiti-spattered fortress but it's all open-plan and smiling staff.
It's just like a bank, except that nobody tries to sell you a pension. I make an appointment for the following day and go home to fill in a small book of forms.
At the interview the Social Security girl notes that I've put down my available working hours as 7am to 5pm. She wants to know if I am willing to start earlier and finish later. "No problem," I assure her. She then proceeds to rewrite the form. Eventually, I am available to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If I don't agree to this, it could affect my benefit. It turns out I will not be getting that much benefit anyway.
I didn't expect them to start showering me with money, and as I've been paid a month's salary in lieu of notice I won't be getting anything. At some time in the future if I don't find a job, they will give me pounds 46 a week. Tomorrow, I'll buy the papers and look through the ads. I wonder what Moldovian Chardonnay tastes like?
The author lives in Hereford. He lost his job a few weeks ago. His diary of his search for work will appear every Thursday.Reuse content