I was chatting to a friend recently and realised that I was talking gibberish with terms like CR and DR, so for non rads, I’d just like to briefly describe some current equipment in terms that should make sense; in conventional projectional radiography (eg not CT, MRI, ultrasound) there are three main types of kit, and as pretty much everyone has a camera now, that’s what I’ll compare it to.
Now I’m quite lucky as I’ve never had to develop a film radiograph; if I’d done A-levels and gone to uni straight afterwards that’d probably be different. This is a fairly easy comparison to make to photography as both have used film for the majority of their lifespans. You have an x-ray tube, a film plate, and the patient in the middle. The exposure would be made, and then the film would be developed while the patient waits.
Here, the plate is replaced by a digital cassette which is processed by a machine rather than dunked in noxious fluids. Cassettes are about a centimetre thick and come in a variety of sizes depending on what anatomy you’re examining. Cassettes are passive technology, and as such, if they’re dropped you won’t necessarily lose your data. Think of them as the old digital cameras which stored photos onto a floppy, but didn’t have a screen; you don’t have to wait to get the pictures back from Snappy Snaps, but you do have to take the disk out and put it in your PC before you can see if your thumb is obscuring that gorgeous sunset.
Same tube, same patient, but a digital receptor rather than a plate or cassette. These can be super-fancy; they’re usually connected to the radiography system wirelessly, meaning that as soon as you take the exposure the image appears on the screen in front of you. Unlike plates and cassettes, you can repeat images using the same receptor as it doesn’t store the data after it transmits it. Unfortunately, as it uses active technology, it’s not as small or light as a cassette and if you drop the receptor you’re dropping few thousand pounds’ worth of not terribly robust equipment. Not a good way to impress your manager. This is sort of like a modern digital camera with a screen and wifi connectivity.
This won’t pass any radiographical equipment essay marking criteria, but hopefully it will clear up a few of the terms I’ll be using in future blog posts.
Work starts tomorrow, well, two days of induction / mandatory training, then work starts on Wednesday. I can’t wait. It’s been two and a half years of training (read: working for free on placement) followed by five months of absolutely nothing except being a financial drain (three months of job-hunting, two months of waiting for occupational health to do their job). It’s been both excruciatingly boring, and hideously depressing, so when people tell me I should enjoy my “time off” or that I won’t be so eager in a month, I try to bite my tongue and keep my reaction to myself.
Anyway, expect more radiography-based blogposts soon. Assuming my employer’s social media policy allows for such things.
I keep remembering things so I’ll add to this post as they re-emerge in my brain. Similar posts can be found under the RadTips tag.
Some other questions which have come up are of the following type:
How would you perform an OM30 on an uncooperative patient?
Now, I’m something of a pedant, I’ll freely admit that, so when I was asked this, I answered with two questions: how uncooperative are they, and why are they uncooperative? Personally, I don’t think that you can answer the question without knowing this information. Are they drunk? Aggressive? Confused? Suffering from dementia? Drunks can sometimes be reasoned with, as can aggressive patients (in my experience, a new face can sometimes be all it takes to reason with an unfriendly patient) but if they are suffering from neurological problems which they cannot control then you’re probably out of luck (and if they’re suffering from neuro problems due to head trauma then they should probably be going to CT anyway; their facial injuries can be assessed that way). Inappropriate or excessive movement which cannot be prevented is bad; if there’s no chance of getting a diagnostic quality image (the whole point of the damn process) then don’t waste your time. But why are they unable to keep still? Have they been sent round to radiology before having analgaesics? If so, don’t be afraid to send them back! If that was your mum with a facial bone injury, would you be happy for her to press her face up against a cassette without painkillers?
These questions apply to any “uncooperative patient” scenario; before going into robot-mode and rattling through the positioning, make it clear that you would not perform the examination unless you genuinely think you can get a diagnostic quality image. Don’t be afraid to send a patient back for analgaesics, sedation, or even just a coffee to sober up. And never ever put yourself in a position where you feel threatened by a patient.
It’s 2am, you’re working alone when you get a bleep for a trauma series, a NICU portable, and a femoral nailing in theatre. What do you do?
Once you’re done panicking, ring theatre, and tell them you’ll be there after the trauma series. Ask NICU what it’s for, explain the situation and ask if they can wait. It’s probably for NG tube placement, so as long as they don’t desperately need to feed them, they can hold off for a little while. The point of this question is to show both initiative and reasoning; it’s not necessarily about getting the answer right (although you probably ought to) more about proving you’re capable of thinking clearly under pressure. Practically, the trauma series comes first, this should be obvious. The patient’s life is at risk, they are the most urgent in the queue. Theatre is next; this isn’t a planned elective, it’s a trauma call and they can’t do it without imaging. They can, however, prep the patient etc while you finish the trauma series as long as they know that’s what you’re doing. Then, once you’ve got your breath back, trot off up to NICU and see if the feeding tube is in the right place.
The point is, the trauma patient has unknown injuries which could kill them; the theatre patient’s injuries are known, but serious and need treating immediately; and the NICU baby is being constantly monitored and unlikely to starve in the time it takes you to get to them. You need to not only show your reasoning with this, but also demonstrate your communication skills; it’s pointless getting the order right but then fail by not telling theatre or NICU what you’re up to.
Sometimes they like to hit you with something crazy like trauma theatre, #NOF, and a pile up on the motorway- 6 patients with injuries varying from #wrists to c-spine- ambulances are on their way. I’ve never had this in an interview, but my answer would be:
- Call 2nd cover and ask them to come in. Tell them to avoid the motorway!
- Tell trauma theatre what’s happening and that another radiographer is coming in.
- Tell A&E that I’m currently on my own, but that cover is on its way.
- Ask the A&E referrers to send the patients in priority order.
- Get the #NOF done if possible while the ambulances are still en route, if that’s impossible, send the patient back to A&E where they’ll be more comfortable. They can sleep and have access to analgaesics if necessary; their injury isn’t life threatening, and their comfort is paramount.
- Send the 2nd radiographer to theatre when they arrive.
- Explain the situation to the porters so that they’re able to help.
- Let A&E make the decisions and prioritise your patients, and examine them accordingly.
- Ask the 2nd radiographer to assist when they’re done in theatre.
- Get the #NOF done (if it wasn’t done earlier) once the serious injuries have been examined.
This is a similar concept to the previous question: it’s all about communication. Speak to theatre, A&E, 2nd cover, porters, etc etc. If you explain why you can’t be in theatre right away they won’t be thrilled, but at least they’ll know why. Instead of letting the A&E referrals line up, get them to send them to you in an order of their choosing; they know best.
I’d love to hear some opinions on answering these scenarios; would you say something different? These are heavily based on my (very limited) experience, so I’d be really interested in any new input.
My post on job hunting and making applications is here.
Ok, first off, not all interviews are the same. The ones I’ve had have varied greatly; the majority involved a series of questions on knowledge, followed by a “tell us about yourself” bit, and then some image interpretation, however one was just an informal chat about me (no fact-based answers at all) and there are even some places which get you to position and image a phantom.
See who’s on the interview panel; do some Googling. If it’s John Smith, who wrote an article in Synergy last year about OPG for trauma, expect an OPG image to come up. If it’s Jane Jones the head CT tsar, revise your cranial bleeds. If you have any friends or contacts within the department, find out what kind of interview it is if you can. If you have any really good friends, maybe even find out what kinds of images they tend to use; are they mostly skeletal trauma? Head CT? Chest pathology? Seriously, it’s competitive out there, use any advantage you have, just don’t take the piss.
The knowledge questions tend to be on the following types of subject:
- What is IR(ME)R? State the roles and responsibilities
- What are the HPC’s CPD standards?
- What is Clinical Governance?
- What is a Clinical Audit?
- What is the Data Protection Act?
- What is NICE/NIHCE?
These are just a matter of learning by rote, unfortunately. There isn’t really a shortcut. Condense each answer into a series of points and get them into your head.
The personal questions can vary a lot, but there’s usually:
- Why this hospital?
You need to do your research. Perhaps this is a placement site you’ve really enjoyed, or it’s a massive teaching hospital with loads of scope for personal development. Mention other points, such as outstanding infection control (if true!), what kind of Trust is it? If they’re applying to be an FT then you ought to mention this and state why it’s a positive move.
- How has your degree/placements prepared you for a radiography career?
Quite simple really, have you done night shifts? Rotated between all the modalities? Have your placement sites been dramatically different? Big yourself up.
- How would you apply your personality to radiography?
- What do you most enjoy about radiography?
- Give us an example of your teamworking skills
- Give us an example of how you dealt with a difficult situation/patient
The only way to pass the image interpretation aspect is to practise. Go through some old OSCEs and familiarise yourself with pathologies and how they appear on radiographs. You’ll need to be able to describe anatomy as well as point out fractures; if you’re given a normal elbow image, they may ask you what fat pad signs you would expect to see if there was a fracture. It’s not just about being able to differentiate between normal and abnormal though; they may give you an awful peg view and ask how you’d improve it. Angle up? Angle down? Open the mouth more? That sort of thing. Try not to react too much to the images though; in one interview I was shown a frankly dreadful lateral ankle and I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrows when I saw it. Instead of commenting on how crap the image is (it might be one of theirs!), explain how you would improve it, and throw in something about patient cooperation, and how you’d only repeat if you think you could achieve a diagnostic quality image. If the image is rubbish but you can still see a particularly bad fracture, it’s worth mentioning that the patient might not have had analgesics (it happens), and this could be why the image is so naff. Patient care is hugely important, don’t waffle on about how you’d reposition the patient if they haven’t had any painkillers yet.
Personally, I think that technique is more important than interpretation. You’re interviewing to be a band 5 radiographer, not a radiologist. Being able to spot and describe a coin lesion is great, but you need to be able to take a decent mobile chest image first.
At some point in the interview, normally towards the end, you’ll be able to ask questions- don’t think for a second that this is of lesser importance than the rest of the interview. This is where you not only get to find out about the post (shift patterns, preceptorship, facilities, equipment etc) but you can also demonstrate your knowledge further. Asking insightful questions is an important part of the interview, and if you’re creative you can really use it to your advantage. Maybe ask what C-arms they use in theatre, and when they answer you can tell them that you’ve used that model on placement, or made a presentation on its features in your first year. Just don’t force an anecdote into a question as it’ll be obvious and really really awkward.
One piece of advice which I cannot stress enough, is the need to appear human. You might be able to cite IR(ME)R word for word and have the image interpretation skills of a trauma consultant, but you’re being assessed on more than that. Bear in mind that they know you’re a new grad, and therefore you’re going to have gaps in your knowledge; that will change with experience. Your personality probably won’t. They’re going to be judging how well you’d fit in their team, and if it’s a small department then this is hugely important. There’s not much you can do about this, just be yourself (or a slightly censored version of yourself) and hope they like you. If they don’t think you’ll fit in, then unfortunately that’s their call.
After the interrogation most places will offer you a tour of the department (this entirely depends on how busy they are, and whether they have anyone available to show you round). This is usually very informal, but remember that the person showing you round is a potential future colleague, so don’t relax too much; assume that they’re going to report everything back to the interview panel, that way you can’t go wrong. You can find out quite a lot about whether you’d want to work there from the tour: ask them how long they’ve worked there, what they enjoy about it, what theatres are like, ask about equipment and practicalities (room 4’s a nightmare, but there’s loads of space for mobiles in resus), whatever comes to mind. Don’t ask which band 7 is the biggest bitch, or who the nicest radiologist is. That would be something of a faux pas at this stage.
After the Interview
You should have been told when you’re likely to hear back from them, if not, don’t leave the room without asking! You’ll end up worrying unnecessarily, thinking you’ve been unsuccessful when in reality they’re not going to make a decision for another week. If judgement day comes and goes with still no word, it can’t hurt to contact them; it shows you’re interested at least, just don’t hassle them. If they said they’d ring by Friday and it’s now Tuesday, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to call. If it’s only Friday afternoon, lay off and chill out.
If you’re offered the job after your first ever interview, then well done! Whether you did it by skill, luck or a combination of both, it doesn’t matter, you did it.
If not, chalk it up as experience and move on, try not to take it too personally. The interview might have been excellent, you could have been the perfect candidate, unfortunately, there could have been 5 other perfect candidates and only two posts. It can be completely galling to come away feeling super positive, only to receive a standard “Dear Candidate” rejection email, and personally I think that’s a pretty crappy way to be turned down, but sometimes that’s how it goes. Any decent employer will give you feedback, and this can be vital; if they’re the kind of employer who won’t give feedback, would you want to work for them anyway? Remember that this is a two way street; they should be trying to impress you as well, after all, you’re going to be spending the majority of your waking hours there.
If, like me, you’ve gone for the “carpet bombing” approach, you’ll hopefully have another interview lined up, so you can use the feedback from this one to adapt your technique. If not, make some notes to remind you when the next one comes up.
Most important of all, try not to get disheartened. This can be really difficult, especially as the rejections pile up and the money runs out. I applied for over 40 posts and attended 7 interviews at a cumulative cost of over £75, but eventually the final three interviews all ended in offers. If I can do it, so can you.
I haven’t seen much current advice for newly qualified (or near-qualifying) radiographers looking for work, so I thought I’d contribute, hopefully this will give a slightly different perspective to articles written by interviewers or academics.
The economy isn’t in a great state at the moment, and predictably, employment rates suffer. In particular, the current government made a nominal increase to the NHS budget this year, but along with “efficiency savings” and other reductions being made within Trusts, quite frankly, the NHS is facing a financial crisis. This means that the good old days seem to be over for now. You’ve probably heard the stories about radiographers basically being able to dictate where they work, and having job offers before even finishing the course. This doesn’t generally seem to be the case anymore, although the situation is marginally better for therapeutic radiographers. Here is my advice, based solely on my own experience and that of some of my friends. Please bear in mind I won’t be commenting on employment in the private sector; unless you’ve paid your own tuition fees I personally think it would be somewhat unethical not to “give something back” (yes, even if that means waiting longer for a job to appear).
Job hunting can be a full time job in itself; use every tool available to you to make this process easier and more efficient.
Sign up to the NHS Jobs website and create some searches based on where you’re willing to work. If geography isn’t a limiting factor you’ll obviously have more posts to choose from. These searches can be emailed to you, but they tend to get sent at the end of the day, and when I was applying, jobs were opening and closing within hours. In fact, one post I interviewed for was put up at 10am and closed by 2pm because of the number of applications they received. If you have a smartphone I recommend the following:
- Create some searches based on both locations, key words, and salary (this excludes getting constant emails about band 7 posts etc)
- Subscribe to these searches as RSS feeds rather than standard emails. This means that instead of getting an email at the end of the day (by which time it might have already closed) you get them as soon as they are posted. I used Blogtrottr to receive instant emails as soon as a job goes live.
- Apply ASAP! Seriously, don’t wait. Unless you’re not that fussed about getting a job, in which case, why are you reading this?
Have a generic application form filled in offline somewhere; this means that when you make your first application you can just make some post-specific amendments and then copy and paste it onto the application. This form is then saved for future applications- make sure you change it every time you apply for a different post. You’ve probably heard it a million times before, but it really is important that you make a bespoke personal statement for each post you apply for. Personally for my applications I would change the first paragraph to be specific about the post, and the rest was generic. I researched the local hospitals and wrote introductory paragraphs for each and saved them on my phone; this meant that when I got a Blogtrottr email, I was able to apply for it immediately on my iphone.
The job offer I ended up accepting came about from an application made whilst out riding; we had to canter to the top of a hill in search of a 3G signal so I could press send.
If you’re re-applying for a post, you can go back to your previous application and copy/paste your statement, making the whole process much easier.
If your university offered non-standard extra courses on top of your degree, it’s really important that you mention them in both your statement and in the “training courses” section of the application form, under Qualifications. My uni ran optional courses in FAST and venous access; if you’ve done something similar, show it off! I’ve heard that some particularly competitive employers filter applications by these fields, so if they’re blank you’ll be automatically rejected.
Some Trusts (for whatever reason) advertise posts on NHS Jobs but make you register and apply on their own recruitment websites. This can be a massive pain in the arse as it means re-entering all of your info, but again, if you want the job…
Don’t be disheartened if you (sometimes almost instantly) receive an automated rejection. Unfortunately it does seem to be partly a numbers game, so if you apply beyond a certain time, but before they officially close, you might get rejected without anyone even reading your form. Hell, for all I know some of them were rejecting every odd-numbered application.
Invitations to Interview
Woo hoo! Finally you’ve got an interview. Some employers will tell you the date and time, others just give you a date range and make you log on and get allocated a time slot. I accepted every interview almost immediately, meaning that for every one where I had to register for a slot I ended up with an early morning one. Bear this in mind if you’re travelling any distance.
Interview tips are in a separate blog post as I think I’ve droned on enough in this one!
I’m pretty pissed off. So pissed off that on Saturday I marched through London with 150,000 other folk who are angry at the way this country is being treated by the government. And now I’m even more pissed off that we were completely ignored by both the media and those in charge. Is because we didn’t smash shit up? Because there was a football match that day? Or is it because 150,000 people closing roads in central London and marching past Downing Street just isn’t a big deal? After all, back in 2003 approximately one million people marched through London to protest the Iraq war, and that still happened.
The facts are fairly clear: the NHS is being privatised, but apparently, not that many people care. In 2007 the American Filmmaker, Michael Moore, made a documentary investigating the state of insurance-led healthcare in the USA, and comparing it to the socialised medicine available in France, Canada, Cuba, and the UK. While the film isn’t exactly unbiased, as a Briton I find the concepts covered in it as alien as Alien. Concepts such as: people with unrelated pre-existing conditions (such as thrush) being denied health insurance cover for cancer; patients being bundled into taxis mid treatment and abandoned outside charitable hospitals miles away, confused, disorientated, and still wearing gowns and ID wristbands; patients with severe respiratory illnesses contracted whilst volunteering in the clear-up post-911 having to pay hundreds of dollars for an inhaler; insured patients having to pay for ambulance expenses because the emergency response hadn’t been pre-approved by their insurer.
Nah, scratch all that, those examples are disgusting, but they’re also quite extreme. Personally, I find it abhorrent that in a developed country, with such national pride and a history of incredible achievements its citizens are treated with such contempt. Michael Moore seemed shocked that our prescription costs were so cheap and could cover so much. He was surprised to find that the only thing stopping a patient from leaving the hospital was the state of their health, rather than their bank balance. He was confounded by the idea that the cashier’s desk in an NHS hospital serves to reimburse travel costs to poorer patients rather than to collect payment. I am shocked that this is not the case over the pond, and I am even more disturbed that we’re starting to copy them.
Moore spoke to Tony Benn to ask about the history of the NHS, talking about the motivation behind it, and the love that the British people have for it. There was, however, one part which was especially poignant today, where he compared the NHS with democracy, saying that taking away our healthcare would be as ridiculous and incomprehensible as removing the vote:Benn: “They wouldn’t accept the deterioration or destruction of the NHS.” Moore: “If Thatcher or Blair had said ‘I’m going to dismantle National Healthcare’-“ Benn: “There’d have been a revolution.”
Well where’s our bloody revolution? Seriously? The public reaction to the current dismantling of the NHS by the Conservatives has been, quite frankly, pathetic. Some people blame the media for the lack of coverage, but honestly I don’t buy that anymore. If there was a media blackout on the FA Cup, people would still find out the football results if they were interested; how can football be more interesting than your own health? There are even people working for the NHS who either don’t know or don’t care about the current threat to their employer; I know because I’ve spoken to them. I’ve had plenty of people ask me why I get so upset about this, and why I bother reading and writing about it. Well, I don’t know about you, but if I broke my arm tomorrow I couldn’t afford the bus fare to hospital, let alone the treatment.
People came up to us on Saturday’s march and (genuinely) asked what it was all in aid of (maybe they were illiterate, I dunno, we had plenty of banners). Back in March there were nationwide vigils and I went to one in Southampton and was disgusted with how few people turned up; I even grabbed the megaphone to express my disbelief.
But honestly, what can we do? It seems that the only way to get media coverage is to destroy property, and that would be a wholly inappropriate response. I’ve tried telling people myself; I’ve blogged, tweeted, facebooked, accosted people in the street, written to my MP, attended events and rallies… what else can we do?
Answers on a postcard…
You may be familiar with online communities such as FreeCycle/Freegle; messageboards where people can post items that they no longer need, or requests for unwanted items. Boards are organised by geographical area, and you’ll find everything from 6 month old sofas, to second hand pants.
One thing the website seems to be quite short on, however, is manners. On the Portsmouth board there were frequent requests for expensive items such as iPads, iPhones, DSLR cameras, MacBooks, cars, motorbikes… all sorts. Two months after the iPhone 4 came out there was already a request for an “unwanted” one.
These requests are unrealistic and somewhat arrogantly greedy, but at least you can laugh at them and scroll down. Unfortunately, these kind of people also reply to offered ads, and here the sense of self entitlement really shines through.
I’ve “got rid of” a lot of stuff on Freecycle; a bed, a sofa, a sofabed, old computers, clothes, shoes, etc etc, and it can be hugely useful for shifting furniture fairly quickly. Nearly every message I’ve posted has had multiple replies, which is great, but I do wonder how these people interact in “the real world”.
We needed to get rid of an old bike, it’s not fubar but certainly needs some TLC to make it roadworthy, so I was surprised to receive 37 emails within an hour of posting:
Getting rid of an old bike which is no longer needed, it’s a Saracen, and the frame size is a men’s large.
It’s been well used, and could definitely do with some TLC, but it is currently rideable at least, so I expect with some WD40 and a bit of know-how it’ll have a fair few miles left in it.
No phone numbers, collection between 2pm-6pm today please.
Here are some of the most notable replies:
Yes plz to ur ad
Hello, I’ve not had much luck lately as my wife has just been diagnosed with cancer, so a new bike would be great, thanks.
Wow, pulling the c-card in the hope of getting a second hand bike. Classy. Also, I’d suggest that if this is true, your wife is having somewhat worse luck than you are. On two counts.
is it available
I don’t know, is it? Huh?
can i have the bike
hi do u still have this bike i need a bike as i lost mine thanx
You LOST a bike? Lost it? And you’re happy to freely admit this to a stranger in the hope that they’ll give you theirs?
bike pls 077********
This is why I specified “no phone numbers” in the post, because people will just send you their mobile number and expect you to call them. Obviously this person was not only too busy to converse by email, but also too important to even read the sodding post in the first place.
I really need a bike, I’ll be there in 10 minutes
Shit, really? Do you know where I live? How? I haven’t given you my address…
Now I admit I have a tendency towards pedantry, but I don’t think I was being terribly unfair in rejecting these replies. If you’re asking someone to give you their property, for free, the least you can do is use a properly structured sentence. I’m still reeling from the “cancer” reply, that’s certainly a new one.
I’m tempted to link to this in my next Freecycle post, but as most people don’t bother reading beyond the subject line, I doubt it’ll be worth it.
The last few days have been something of an emotional rollercoaster: on Saturday we hopped on the Greyhound and went to my mum’s (via the Southampton IMAX for the new Batman installment). We took the puppy to her first clay pigeon shoot on Sunday morning to see how she’d cope with the noise; turns out that as long as the ground is soft enough for her to dig holes and hunt worms / mole people, she doesn’t care. On Sunday afternoon I finally got a haircut- the last time I visited a hairdresser was when I was in Kathmandu and had an hour to kill before collecting my canyon swing photos.
And Monday was The Big Day™, I got to wear a stupid hat and gown, and make my family endure 2 hours of ceremonial waffle just to watch me dash across the Portsmouth Guildhall stage without falling over.
So that was somewhat emotional; I held it together all the way through (admittedly my knees went a bit wobbly just before I did the strut across the stage) but then at the end the chancellor, Sheila Hancock, started her speech with “You did it!” and my eyes started leaking. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest four years of my life; there were times when I was close to giving up, but I stuck with it in the end. That’s the thing with us stubborn types, we obstinately dig our heels in and persevere, even when it’s not the best idea! And whilst I’m on the subject, I also managed to keep my cool and refrain from telling a handful of people exactly what I think of them. It wasn’t the right time, and you never know who your future colleagues might be, so for now I’ll just enjoy the thought of not having to see them again for the time being.
On Tuesday I went along to the New Forest Show, as per usual, and only got slightly sunburnt, which was certainly unusual. Afterwards we took the puppy to the beach and I swam in the sea for the first time in ages, and didn’t get hypothermia, which is always a bonus.
But after a fantastic few days there’s always something that brings reality crashing back through the door; on Wednesday morning I woke up and could hear Matt talking to my mum in the kitchen, which was odd as he’d gone back home on Monday night. It turns out that at some point on Tuesday, while he was at work, our guinea pig, Butters, had died. It wasn’t a huge surprise as he was 5 years old and store-bought pigs aren’t known for their breeding or longevity, but unlike Ike (who had died in December) he hadn’t been unwell or unhappy. So Matt packed up his cage and all of his stuff, and drove down in the middle of the night so that we could bury him in the garden the next morning. that’s three graves in 8 months; I hope the puppy’s digging skills don’t improve too much.
Also, my car insurance expires next month and I can’t afford to renew it so we have left the car with my dad until I know whether I can afford to keep it.
So I’m now home without a car, without my rodenty friend, and I’m no longer able to even pretend to be a student.
We’ve been living in London for a month now, and we’re fairly settled; the move itself was tough but fairly smooth overall. There were only a few fatalities, caused when a box containing crockery and a glass chopping board landed on my dad’s steel toe capped boot; RIP Matt’s favourite mug. The flat is nice (not sure it’s worth the money, but is anything in London?) and the area is very leafy with great transport connections. I still can’t believe that I can hop on a bus just up the road which takes me past the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and Hamleys, for £1.35! Assuming it doesn’t break down or inexplicably change its destination, of course… Another massive perk to our new home is that we actually have our own outdoor space, something I could never afford in Portsmouth. The novelty of sitting outside with a cup of tea and the Kindle won’t wear off any time soon. I just wish summer would arrive.
You may have noticed that I have changed the subheading on my blog from “student radiographer” to “unemployed radiographer”. This is because I have now finished my course and registered with the Health Professions Council! I have yet to find employment though, not for lack of trying; I’ve been dutifully applying for every post advertised within 20 miles but to no avail.
At the beginning of the week I was in Manchester for the UK Radiological Congress. The primary reason I went was because some of the lectures looked really interesting, but it’s also a useful event to make friends at (and this was my last year when I could get the discounted student rate). I got chatting with a veterinary radiographer who works at a really innovative practice near Guildford; when I was younger I always wanted to be a vet but wasn’t clever (or hard working) enough, so this is a field I am hugely interested in. I also attended some really interesting lectures on post mortem and battlefield imaging, quite morbid but really informative and I learnt a lot from the speakers.
So it’s been a fun-packed month, I’ve moved house, gained a BSc, rubbed shoulders with eminent radiologists, registered with the HPC, and can now officially call myself a Radiographer. A job would be lovely though.
I was sat on Hayling Island beach on Wednesday, enjoying the sun, sand, sea, and the fact that there were no shrieking teenagers splashing each other nearby.
Next week I’m moving to London, and it occurred to me recently that apart from the time spent on army bases as an infant, I’ve never lived more than 10 miles from the sea. I’ve never really been one for sunbathing (even with factor 50 I burn within minutes) but as a child we used to go to Mudeford Quay to catch crabs, and going for a gallop along the sand has always been a favourite activity of mine.
I’ve lived in Portsmouth for 10 years now and I’ve really enjoyed the nautical nature of the city; the naval base has a massive influence on the place and back in my clubbing days it was always a laugh sharing the sticky floors of Route and Scandals with US navy folks in full mess dress (taking bets on how long they’d last on the sweaty dancefloor in their woollen uniforms was mean, but funny). And then walking home from the club in the middle of the night through fog so thick I could barely see my feet, jumping out of my skin every time the fog horn echoed through the streets…
I’ve made some fantastic friends while living here and had some incredible experiences; I know I’m going to miss this place, but in all honesty it’s time for a change. The atmosphere here has been gradually changing and I don’t think it’s for the better. Making the transition from employee to student made me realise just how much resentment there is towards Portsmouth Uni by the local residents.
In 2010 a giant fibreglass dinosaur was built on the common as part of an art project; it travelled 2,000 miles to get here and was meant to spend a few weeks in towns across the country, but about a week before it was due to leave for Colchester it caught fire and was completely obliterated.
Immediately local people started blaming “the students”, as they do for everything: windscreen smashed? Students. Wing mirror ripped off? Students. Piles of vomit on the pavement? Students. In fact, most of the antisocial behaviour that I’ve witnessed has been performed by idiots wearing blue football shirts, and I doubt that many students are also Pompey fans.
Anyway, it turned out the dinosaur burnt down because of dodgy electrics, but the ill will towards the city’s students had already peaked and the atmosphere had turned quite unpleasant. On top of the general physical and verbal abuse I’ve had to endure at the hands of local thugs over the years, I decided that it was probably time for a change. The decision has been helped by a number of other factors, the lack of employment opportunities in Portsmouth being a major one; neither my partner nor myself have been able to find work here, and neither of us went to uni in order to work in a call centre.
So now’s the time. And honestly, I’m going to miss this place, I’ve got some incredible memories to take away with me and I know it’ll be an emotional departure, so thanks Pompey.
And try not to let things get too messy, yeah?