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Thursday, 11 July 2013

re·dun·dant

Adjective: No longer needed or useful; superfluous
Synonyms: unnecessary - needless - excessive - spare

This is what redundancy looks like.  It's black and white isn't it? You're either in or you're out, useful or a spare part, needed or superfluous to requirements.
Pete says it feels scary and unstable. But he also says it's a relief. A relief perhaps to be free of a job that had a serious impact on his mental health. Four months on he's only just starting to feel more like himself again. But now he must deal with the insecurity of not knowing what to do next, the fear that what happened before will be repeated; the crisis of identity - "how can I be of value and what can I do?" he wonders. There's also the panic of the economic reality and a serious lack of employment opportunity, particularly around here. For now Pete clings to our pet dog, Margot.
I'm with Pete on this because I know a bit about what it's like. I took redundancy last year from my journalism job in Hull. They bought me a mug when I left which was handy because when you're redundant you drink lots of tea. It was my choice to go but it was still a leap of faith into the unknown. There was no master plan I just knew I had to make the move because the job made me feel empty inside and it was also affecting my mental health. My psychotherapist described me as a square peg in a round hole. Therapy got me to a place where I could face up to me and find the strength to let go of the "false self"; the me that, up until then, had always just gone through the motions. I'd always wanted to work with vulnerable children and I'm really lucky that I do that now. If I'm frank though, it's a big pay cut and whilst it's never about the money, we have two children to support. It scares me sometimes.
Pete always jokes that he has those kind of hands that look like they've never done an honest day's work in their life. They're big and soft and they spend hours playing the piano these days. Sometimes when the children are at school we make up things together; I write the words and he composes the music. Then we perform it in our back room. It's the first time in sixteen years of marriage that we've collaborated creatively. All that passion, all that drive, all that time and it's only now we are in sync. If we hadn't become "unnecessary" or "needless" we might never have found this way of communicating that strikes at the heart of who we are. We might never have given ourselves the time and space to explore. Creativity requires a step into the unknown.

Now we are rehearsing for our first studio session. Pete's even taught me a couple of chords because he's always reckoned I'd look good with a guitar. I'm not so sure but I certainly love the theatre of it; and we've agreed he'll play it for the actual recording session! We'll be putting five or six of our musical poems down "on tape" with a view to handing out CD's when, and if, we get gigs. Performing makes us feel alive. It motivates us to know that things can feel right, life can make sense and everyone has their place in the world.

4 comments:

  1. What an inspiring post RuthE. If you two are redundant at all, it's only in the corporate sense of the word, and that has to be a good thing! What you are doing now is so worthwhile. And no, it doesn't buy holidays or clothes for the kids, but I'm guessing that your house is happier than many.

    I love what you are doing and I look forward to hearing your collaboration. And yes you do look pretty cool with a guitar!

    Ian @manandphone

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    1. That's really kind and understanding of you Ian. thank you very much, not least for your continued support (via twitter) of my performance poetry. We are indeed a happier house and there's nothing like Costa Del Scunthorpe of a summer holiday! I will certainly keep you posted on the collaboration and best of luck yourself with all things creative, RuthE x

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  2. I love you guys dearly (I know I haven't seen you since god was a boy but still...) and I'll do everything I can to support you both when it comes to doing the good stuff. This is also a brilliant post that doesn't shy away from the colder realities of your situation (but it sounds like you've both tried very hard to make the idea of working where you did at great personal expense to yourselves). Ruth, I love your work, Pete has always been one of the good guys, and I'd like to see what you do travel a lot further xx

    Grrrrr!!

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  3. Christine, what you write is lovely - it makes us feel good and we love you too! Really chuffed you like my stuff and thank you so much for your continued support. You're right when you say Pete is one of the good guys; I guess it all happens for a reason. Ultimately it's the "colder realities" that puts the fire in our bellies and however far we "travel" we're truly grateful because we've come a long way just to get here! All the best to you xx

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