I’m not celebrating the fact that my hair is now coming out in handfuls and my debris is competing with the cat’s fluff for the attentions of the vacuum cleaner. Mind you, the cat’s fur isn’t likely to block up the bath plug so I win on that score.
I am celebrating the completion of my Irish Sea contract. I wrote, way back in the mists of May, that a large proportion of the Irish seabed had arrived in my back yard. Well it’s now left. Finally. Only four and a half months overdue – it was supposed to be finished by the end of June. You’d think they’d have induced it by this time. The biggest inducement in the life of a self-employed anything is of course being paid and I had a quiet laugh as I wrote the invoice last week. When I was originally asked to cost the work I spent some time pondering the length of a piece of string before I arrived at a crude rule of thumb based on the number of buckets, jars and vials. What I didn’t realise was that I had costed the length of a scrap of thread instead of a stonking great rope. The estimated 4 weeks work should have been something like 10 weeks and that’s without broken ankles, hysterectomies and chemotherapy getting in the way. Oh and a week’s holiday of course.
I had reckoned on about 30 minutes for each litre jar. In fact these jars were stuffed to the brim with dead shells and each piece of shell had maybe 6 to 10 species of bryozoan on it. On either side in fact. The only way to identify these is to put them under the microscope, centre the specimen, zoom in, count the spines or whatever, jiggle it around for a different angle, prop it up on that important bit of bluetac, maybe look it up in a book. Actually, make that maybe probably. If it was something tricky it was easy to spend 30 minutes on one specimen. So it takes time. I guess, overall, that on average each jar took maybe 4 hours to work through – this is allowing for those that took a whole day.
I’ve been picking away at the samples for ever, it seems, without the mounds in the yard and the utility room getting noticeably smaller. But last week I had a whole, uninterrupted week with not a single appointment, feeling well, and with a mission. I was going to finish the samples or die in the process. Head down, I finished them. 7pm on Sunday evening. And Andy has just driven up from Wales to collect the samples for the final stage of the project. I’m going to have to be careful now – there’s so much empty space I might get agarophobia to add to everything else.
Anyhow, it’s a huge relief and very satisfying to get it all finished. I feel like I can now flop if I want to, take some time off, do some of those other bits and pieces I’ve been meaning to do. I had better make the most this feeling as I got a phone call at the end of the week offering me a contract to work up some video tapes over the winter. It was a most apologetic call as I’d tendered for the job so long ago I’d forgotten about it. Apparently so had they, because the paper work had been sitting unprocessed on someone’s desk for a month. Just as well, because if they’d offered it to me a month ago I would have turned it down. As it is, samples out of the way, it should see me nicely through the winter without too much stress.
And now’s the time to gloat. I’m also celebrating getting my tax stuff sorted and to the accountant. And I made my Christmas cake at the weekend. Suddenly I feel like I’m getting on top of everything, even if my own top is making a getaway. But I think that’s for another post.