it’s been a day of struggles -struggling with paperwork & goats! The tussles began at my solo morning milking, with the girls deciding to give me the runaround for the Bank Holiday, pushing & shoving to be first into the parlour although by now they have fathomed that there’s an order in which they enter & that they each have an allocated milkstand. But every now & then they have to push the boundaries; & these ladies are still pretty new to the routine, after all.
Then it was the kids’ turn; they are at that ‘Tigger’ age when “their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs” which makes them very, VERY, bouncy! Before getting their morning bottle they pawed at me with excitement, their hard little hooves adding to the myriad of bruises sprouting on my legs; & after their bottles it was playtime, leaping around in the most incredible display of acrobatics which made me wince with horror each time they pinged off the walls, skipping sideways in flying leaps & often landing in a tangled heap on the mercifully soft straw bed beneath before setting off again in their giddy, whirling excitement. It’s always with trepidation that I quietly ease the top door of the stable open a crack, an hour or so later; expecting to find a heap of mangled limbs but instead smiling with relief at the dozy little heap of warm sleepy babies, all snuggled up together in a picture of perfect peace.
On updating the diary with Tony’s flying programme I discovered to my surprise that Tony’s actually been signed up to work for 10 out of 18 weekends – including eight, consecutively. It made me think that it’s very lucky I’m at home here on the farm, & that we don’t have kids….well yes we do; but not those sort of kids….but as can you imagine (being serious for a mo) having to explain to your children that Dad won’t be home to spend time with them over the weekend, yet again, must be very trying. Oh yes, & by the way; it doesn’t matter that he wasn’t home for Christmas because he had to go to work, he won’t be home over Easter either because the nice people who organize his work roster, seem to have overlooked the fact he’s worked two Christmases, one New Year & two Easters, back-to-back; & have booked him in for standby duties anyway.
Of course the way the rosterers get around it, is by calling that particular duty, ‘home’ standby; as the crews have to be within two hours of the airport before being called out (this company also runs an airport standby duty as well). So in theory, crews are classed at being ‘at home’ when on standby & it’s seen as the individual’s problem that they’ve chosen to live further afield – even though the company they originally joined & which was more tolerant & – well, caring – has since been subsumed so circumstances have changed a great deal for those concerned. Anyway regardless of being ‘at home’ it does seem that the majority of times during which Tony’s been on standby, he has been called out; both for short- & medium-haul work. And even if you were on standby & at home with your family it’s not as if you could plan anything or go out anywhere……
It’s a thorny issue, for the ex-BMed pilots; they didn’t ask for the company to be bought out & most of them had joined in the first place, precisely because standby duties were few & far between; & had the flexibility to make allowance for people living farther afield (which many if not the majority, did). However this wasn’t accounted for when the company was swallowed up by a bigger fish in the commercial aviation pond; fair enough, I suppose, as they’re all part of the same (albeit bigger) organisation….but I’d still have thought that, technically, rostering someone to either work or at least to potentially be called out – for eight weekends on the trot – is either an appalling oversight or sheer bad staff management. And whilst for us personally it’s not such an issue (in fact in some ways it’s better for us if Tony IS home during the week, as we can squeeze in the necessary business meetings) if I was working a 9-5, Monday-Friday job or if we had children….well, I’m sure the strain would be starting to show by now. I just hope nobody else is in the same boat (or should I say aircraft?!) – but sadly, I suspect they invariably are.
Meanwhile, ironically, Tony telephoned whilst I was working in the barn, to say he’d been called out after all – & would shortly be en route to Baku in Azerbaijan for a few days. I pointed out to him that we musn’t grumble; as at least by being called out on a medium-haul trip we’re not having to pay for him to stay in a B&B for the next three days, which would otherwise have been the case; & he’s getting a few extra pennies for having to nightstop out of the UK. Ironically there seems to be a definite trend of people being called out on standby when it’s either a major holiday or a Bank Holiday….so perhaps the pressure on people to get some time in with their families, is causing work-related illness hence the call-outs…..? Who knows.