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The person we appointed as manager of the Services to Elderly People Project was due to commence work at the beginning of September. In August he notified us that he would not be able to leave his current employment as soon as he had originally supposed. As manager of a group of insurance collectors he was engaged in the process of winding down the operation which was transitioning to telephone and internet.
Completion of the process was not going easily and was now expected to take until December. He would have to withdraw his acceptance of our appointment. The steering committee met and decided that, rather than go through the whole recruitment process again, we needed someone to fill the gap as temporary manager, until our designated appointee was available. Delaying the start of the project would mean losing a significant element of the funding. I was asked if I would be willing to fulfill that temporary role, subject to a successful interview?
The upshot was that I found myself in full time paid employment once again, albeit for a short period. I took part in the recruitment of the first employees, each of whom had experienced a long period of unemployment and would be engaged part-time so that they could continue to receive welfare payments whilst also working on the project. I purchased tools and equipment, prepared and distributed a publicity leaflet, set up a task recording and scheduling system and, at the end of February, handed over a fully operational service to the new manager.
Late in the summer of 2009 I received a call from the manager of the community development organisation telling me she had nominated me to take part in a course being run by Volunteer Ireland. At the end of it I and the other man she had nominated would be qualified to deliver the same course to community groups around the county, the aim being to enable them to better manage their volunteers.
One of the participants on the first course I delivered, in January 2010, was manager of a cancer support charity. I asked her about the work that volunteers undertook at the centre they run. “Right now I’m looking for a gardener,” she said. When I told her of my interest in gardening she suggested that I arrange to meet with her in the spring to talk about it. Nearer the appointed date I suggested to Freda that she come with me. Maybe there were some tasks she could undertake as a volunteer there.
As a result of that meeting we agreed that I would work in the garden twice a week and that Freda would run a weekly knitting and crochet session for clients. Thus began an association that would last until the present day.
Meanwhile my efforts with the paint brush were continuing. The group held annual exhibitions and I sold a few paintings. I mostly painted landscapes, working from photographs, sometimes my own, sometimes from published images, especially from calendars. I had also taken tentative steps toward my other proposed activity, writing. Sometime in 2007/8 the local council offered a series of writing workshops which I attended one evening a week for 8 or 10 weeks.
Later in 2008 they appointed a writer in residence. Although I did not attend her workshops, I did answer her call for submissions for stories for inclusion in an anthology she was to publish at the end of her term of office. To my surprise and delight the story was accepted and duly appeared in print.
Then late in 2009 I saw an advertisement on the internet for an organisation offering opportunities for would-be writers. I e-mailed a sample piece and was instantly accepted. In hindsight that should have flagged a warning. Over the next year or so I submitted several articles with varying degrees of success.
The business model was what has come to be known as a “content farm”. Articles are produced with the deliberate intention to attract advertising. People clicking advertisements produce income for the organisation, some of which is shared with the writer. Articles are peppered with key words targeted at specific readers thereby attracting advertisers who also want to appeal to those readers. The research required can be time consuming and the business model was earning a bad reputation.
There were several attempts to change the model but eventually the business collapsed. The principle benefit for me and many others was the opportunity to “talk” to other aspiring writers via the forum. I have since been able to watch as the careers of several blossomed following the demise of the company.
As a follow up to my interview with Denzil Walton, here’s Author Stevie Turner enjoying some non-screen time with her grand-daughters.
I glimpse a pair of tiny bright red dots gleaming in the torch’s white light before their owner scuttles off into the dark. I hear the scrunch of feet on gravel and someone calls my name. At first I stiffen with shock. Then laugh inwardly at my stupidity. In the heightened state of my emotions I have forgotten the purpose for my visit to the old house. With a friend, I had planned to spend an afternoon of plein-air painting. The neglected garden seemed like the perfect setting for botanical studies in water color.
I had arrived early, having left sufficient time for my journey to cater for heavy traffic, only to find none. I sat in the car for a few minutes then got out and took a stroll around the periphery of the house, in search of a suitable site to set up my easel. My discovery of the door concealed behind the shrubbery had aroused my curiosity.
Now my friend has arrived. The presence of my car, the trunk still open from when I retrieved the toolbox, will have told him I’m here. I have been so distracted by my interest in the concealed door, and the room beyond, that his sudden appearance has taken me by surprise.
I switch off the torch and duck my head round the door. “Down here,” I shout.
I can see his head, wisps of sandy colored hair lifted by a gentle breeze as he stands beyond the shrubbery. I watch, amused, as he turns, head swiveling, unable to see me. “Behind the shrubbery.” I climb to the second step from the bottom. Now he looks down and I observe puzzlement change to recognition and relief on his thin features. He walks towards the top of the stairway.
“Come and look,” I say. “There’s a cellar. But you must look at the door first. It’s quite ornate.”
I stand aside and, as he brushes my cheek with his lips, I catch the scent of his cologne. He bends to examine the elaborate carving on the pull-ring.
“Unusual for a tradesman’s entrance, don’t you think?” He says nothing.
“Celtic?” I suggest when he looks up.
“I don’t think so. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it before.” I can see he has already lost interest. “What have you found inside?”
“A couple of bats and a rat so far. I’d barely shone my light into the space when I heard your call.”
Together we turn and enter the room.
To be continued.