For the first time in around 20 years, I have no steady job – and for the first time in 15 years, I now have free time. Had I chosen this respite as opposed to having it foisted upon me things might feel a bit different, but anyway, here I am twiddling my thumbs and blogging like there’s no tomorrow.

In truth, this was always the upside to the college closing, a chance to finally take stock of my life, and my career and work out what I actually want to do with the next chapter of my life. My senior faculty know that I spent quite a bit of time over the past few years moaning about the fact that I couldn’t have any time off college to do my own work. How I’d yearned for a time in the not-too-distant future when the college could have run how I actually intended it to run, with a few more people around on a daily basis which would gift me some free, creative time away from the place.

There had been a couple of occasions over the 14 years that such a sabbatical was planned, but for various reasons, each time the allocated period of time came close, some major faculty change, relocation, or a global pandemic would sweep through and put a stop to the best-laid plans. Of course, as the person in charge, you just have to take it on the chin and hope that the next time things will actually work out. Sadly that was never the case, so 14 years of hard labour it was. I should quickly put the caveat in here that I also loved my job – but you know, both things can be true.

With a lovely panto lined up for Christmas, I’m in the strange position of not working as I await the start of my next contract. As luck would have it, a much-needed operation has also fallen into the gap between the closure of the college and the panto contract, so I actually can’t seek out another job until the new year.

As regular readers will know I have 2 small children so the concept of hanging around all day doing nothing is just a pipe dream. That said, I did always think that I’d get myself addicted to daytime tele and relive my early work-life balance. However, after a dose of covid back in June when I finally got to live that daytime tele dream I literally lasted 20 mins before turning it off. It’s a bit like the cheap food I thought I liked when I was growing up. Every so often when doing the shopping I’ll buy a tin or packet of something or another and wax lyrical about all my childhood memories eating the stuff. I’ll open it up, cook it, and quickly realise that my tastes changed and what I once thought was nectar was actually just sh*t.

So a lay-in is completely out of the question which is probably no bad thing as I’ve had to stick to the school routine. Of course these days I’m also the primary carer and boy oh boy I think that that’s been a shift for all of us. That said it is a privilege to spend more time with the family and with the boys still being so young I’m considering myself very lucky to have more time with them, and indeed more time with my wife.

As both of us worked for the college (me in the daytime her in the evening) we’ve finally got some quality family in. Hell, we’ve even been on family days out – which was pretty much unheard of for so long as I battled the ever-increasing workload that The MTA demanded. Even the dog looks surprised every morning when I return home after the school run.

I’m using this extra time to do things like this. . . writing the blog, a great way to keep my brain busy and attempt to be creative. My creative life’s online presence has needed a massive overhaul, so I’ve been busy tidying up and updating my website, my You Tube channel, and attempting to be ever more out there as “The Accidental Disruptor”, whilst continuing to work on the book of the same name.

With all of that going on my days are actually passing pretty quickly. Then throw in some socialising too – finally getting to see friends in shows, or meeting friends for walks/coffee, whatever and I seem to have got myself quite a busy little schedule doing nothing.

I’ve realised that the adage, if you want something done give it to a busy person, is completely true, as I’ve enjoyed the freedom of not being on call 24/7, but I’ve also had to keep myself in check to keep an eye on messages and emails. Seemingly the luxury of “I’ll do that later” is no luxury at all, it’s a trap designed to make you forget everything.

Of course, this is a rose-tinted view of the world as I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t moments when I get desperately upset and angry about what happened to The MTA. Those moments will always catch me off-guard, but let’s face it, it would be weird if I wasn’t having them right? I still have very strong feelings about how the Trinity debacle has played out, and how we still haven’t managed to hold them to account. Interestingly enough having heard the other day that the person that probably dealt us our fatal blow had left the organisation made me even angrier, as even if they’d left because of what they had done to us, they had still got off Scot-free, no doubt with a healthy NDA protected payout too, as I’m still waiting to see if I get any of the monies that I’m owed from the college.

Plus of course, if that person had (hypothetically) been asked to leave then that also means that the organisation does know that it’s been in the wrong all the time but they’d save their own reputation and cover up any wrongdoings rather than holding their hands in the air and acknowledging what they did to us. The moral high ground is great, and yes I sleep well at night with a clear conscience, but none of that pays the bills, and none of that stops me thinking back to how optimistic and buoyant we all felt back in Feb this year.

What has shocked me the most about this period? Acknowledging that I had self-prescribed a uniform for me to wear on a daily basis, which meant that I never had to think about what I wore. As somebody that has zero fashion sense, or indeed cares at all about their appearance that enforced uniform was a godsend. With no income (and let’s face it, desire) to go out clothes shopping, I’m shockingly aware of how few clothes I have that don’t have The MTA logo on them. This means that if you see me out and about still wearing the uniform – don’t think that I’m in any kind of mental health crisis denial about my new life – I literally have nothing else to wear.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to get back into the rehearsal room at the end of November, and then. . . who knows. Until then I’m going to make the most of this funemployment.