Leaving England


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Soundtrack by Brakes

“Should I stay or should I go?” is the obvious soundtrack for any feted footballer faced with transferring between teams. Having completed higher training in psychiatry, I was confronted with this question when considering whether to move 450 miles from Sussex to Scotland. Employment-wise, changing jobs was surprisingly straightforward. Relocating itself though – despite being a previous familiar experience – proved even more challenging and draining than expected. While it might have been cathartic, given the choice again, perhaps I’d question its costs.

Technically I was ‘out of contract’ after qualifying and now working as a locum (freelance) consultant. I’d completed three short-term posts covering for other colleagues’ leave but after six months without clarity about my next placement, an opportunity to jump arose and I thought to swap one ‘known unknown’ for an ‘unknown unknown’. Glasgow might be new territory but surely it beat commuting from Brighton to Hastings!

The job offer was an intriguing proposition that I sensed couldn’t be refused. Part consultant within a suburban community mental health team, part psychiatric cover for the city’s homeless service – a crash course into Glaswegian culture! The 12 month contract also offered substantial experience and an escape route. When contacted the day after my 18-hour round-trip commute for interview, I accepted.

Still would something else turn up in Sussex? With my address of the past three years, I had my ideal home. Three stories high with panoramic sea views, I may have been renting but I’d made it my own. It would take a lot to move me.

When Glasgow called, the medical director said police and occupational health clearance would take weeks. I relaxed knowing I’d have a final summer by the sea and plenty of work soon enough. However, on returning to Glasgow a few weeks later to confirm the job plan and view my new working environment, she asked if I’d start as soon as possible! My predecessor with the Homeless Team was retiring in a week’s time, the other post was ready and waiting. Sooner I figured, would be better for all as I’d receive a direct handover, a gentler introduction and be closer to knowing where I’d be in 12 months time. Within four weeks of interview, I was in post.

Moving home though was another matter and ended up taking just as long. While in Glasgow, I’d agreed terms swiftly on the first flat I viewed, partly for its modern features, central location and underground parking. However what sealed it was the walk-in closet that I’d use for storage, ensuring both access and separation from my life’s possessions.

To get them there a removals company would have been sensible. However the one quote I took had hourly rates that would rapidly accumulate with the journey times involved and I’d never get everything done for someone else’s timetable. By hiring a van I could do this myself and squeeze in a boot sale with Lorne, who had his own CDs, comics, clothes and children’s toys to shift. We thus loaded up on Sunday morning for Brighton Racecourse with what we hoped would be a one-way journey for our cast-offs and returned somewhat lighter with pounds of coins and paper.

I still faced the first of three, 10 hour van journeys and driving late into the night. Far too late as it happened to unpack and an extra day’s hire fees were needed while working the following day. Perhaps it could have all been done as planned with two journeys but I’d underestimated the size of the second van required and just how much there was to do. Fortunately my landlady graciously allowed me an extra week, though the bills were accumulating further, my carbon footprint expanding and more time lost between homes.

Removing all I owned from the flat on Marine Parade revealed a reasonably sized space with stunning light that my stacked furniture had previously absorbed. I regretted how I allow my possessions to intrude into my world. While my Glasgow home had some space for storage – even without the bed, mattress and couch that I sold on cheaply for Matt’s unexpected flat makeover – I feared that too would soon fill and overspill. Of course, it wasn’t just the view that I was leaving behind. Over those weeks a team of friends rallied and proved memorably helpful with either accepting stuff for safekeeping, heavy lifting or hearing me out as I wobbled over my decision. I also saw how some friend’s children were growing up further with greater personal recognition and I wondered whether I’d experience that more directly.

On my final return to Brighton, I heard that new work was now available. A colleague had begun a post that I’d likely have been offered and which wasn’t in Hastings! It was a welcome opportunity for him and also likely that my former employers would have noticed my absence. Maybe I’d been too impatient or perhaps had strengthened my future negotiation position. Whatever, I was now Glasgow bound and I reasoned again if it was good enough for (football reference alert!) fellow Irish via Leicester old boys, Martin O’Neil and Neil Lennon, then for now, it would be for me.

Thanks to Lorne, Sam, Jon, Graham & Alison, Al & Rona, Matt & Craig, Rob, Lucy and Barinder for helping me with the above. I made it.


2 Responses to “Leaving England”

  1. 1 lorne

    greg send us an email let me know how its going. the kids asked to pop up to see you today when we walked back from the beach after building a 3 foot sea wall . i had to remind jack you had moved to scotland.

    how long for? was his reply
    year i said
    oh thats a;right we will go and see him in the flat at the top when he gets back jack replied.
    he wasnt too impressed when i told him you didnt have the flat anymore though.

    a damn good read that mate and it was a pleasure helping out , you did me a favour with the boot sale. moving ourselves in november to a house with a big garden so more life laundry to come
    all the best mate

    • Cheers Lorne

      Am keeping well and busy at work. Was exhausting of course tripping back and forth but starting to see things more clearly.

      I miss dropping in to see Jack & Lilly too and sorry not to have the view to offer them anymore. Of course their welcome to drop by here. Hope goes well with the move and sorry I can’t offer any more services in return for the times you’ve helped me move.

      Keep watching the blog. I’ve two more active stories which I’ll post here when they’re published in November. Lots of other stories to tell but had to get my thoughts on the move down first. Will keep you posted!

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