It all began where most major life decisions begin – at the work Christmas party. The deadline had passed for telling the Agency my decision: move to Dundee or take the job in London. I knew I needed to make a decision, but I just couldn’t deal with it. But I also knew that if I didn’t make up my mind soon, I’d lose the job opportunity all together.
So, with the shop closing early the Friday – Friday before Christmas (that would be 16December, you know the Friday before the Friday before Christmas) for the work party, I decided that I would have one night of fun, work through the weekend, and pray that fate intervenes by Monday morning. I sincerely hoped that a sign would appear, perhaps in the form of a burning bush or a talking dog. Something that would inexplicably tell me whether or not I should move toDundee. So that when I rang the Agency on Monday morning with my answer, I could chalk the whole thing up to fate.
As you may or may not remember, I have been working in the same shop as my Mum. She’s finally let me keep to myself at work, and has stopped incessantly trying to make me have tea breaks and lunches with her. And I’ve even managed to eek out a reputation that does not include ‘Carole’s daughter’ as a phrasal adjective. Because of this, I almost forgot that my work party would include Mum, so I was quite surprised to hear ‘Oh your Mum’s such a hoot at these parties’, ‘Remember last year when she got that Belgian tourist to buy us each a bottle of Cava,’ ‘The Christmas party’s not the same without Crazy Carole.’ And this year, much to my chagrin, my tea-totalling, worry-wart of a mother was the life and soul of the party.
The old gal threw on the glad rags, got her cleves out and drank so much the lady who does the payroll had to hold her handbag while Mum ran after some young lads shouting, ‘I’ve got your mistletoe right here boys.’
I have never been so mortified in my entire life.
When I properly chastised her the next morning, all she had to say for herself was ‘Don’t be such a bore dear. So what I let down my hair. Sometimes even your old mum needs a laugh.’
Yes, even Mum deserves a night out, and while I agree with that sentiment in principal, it was time for me to distance myself from ‘Carole at work’, and put our relationship back on a more parental level.
The quickest way to move the mother-daughter relationship out of the familiar and back to the way it should be was to take the job in London. The Agency said that if I took the London position, I could start much sooner than if I went to Dundee. In fact, if I worked out of London I could start just after the New Year, which meant that I could quit my job in the shop, start looking for a place in London, and get on with my life. Whereas, if I took the Dundee job, I wouldn’t move until February, which meant being ‘Crazy Carole’s daughter’ for an extra month.
So, I rang the Agency on Monday morning to tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the conversation did not go like I had planned. It went something like this:
Me: Hello. I’m ringing to tell you that I’ve made a decision regarding the job in Dundee…
Agent (who is opening the Dundee office): That is fantastic news. I was hoping that you would be willing to move back toScotland. I know it wasn’t what we initially offered, but your contacts in the area would be extremely useful, and I could certainly use a hand launching that office.
Me: Well actually, I was going to…
Agent: I think we can connect with the literary scene that’s growing in the area pretty quickly. In fact, if you don’t mind, we can set you up with an email now and list you as a member of the Scottish team.
Me: Uh, you see I was really calling because….
Agent: Have you looked at accommodation yet? I know Dundee has a bad reputation, but it really is a lovely city. Very up and coming. A lot of growth planned.
Agent: We will cover your moving expenses. Can you still start the first week of February? I’ll be moving up in the New Year, so you can join me anytime after that, but we’ll make your official start date the first of February. Just so you can have some time to get settled.
By this point, I simply couldn’t blurt out, ‘Stop cutting me off. I don’t want to live in Dundee! I called to tell you that I want to stay inLondon.’ No I couldn’t say that at all. In fact, Agent was so excited and enthusiastic that I kind of got swept away in the moment. And not only did her passion make me want to move to Dundee, she said one last thing that pushed me to take the job in Scotland.
Agent: You’ll be doing some work for the London office, remotely of course. But also, as you know [Agent who initially hired me] is setting up a Paris office, and we’re thinking about tying the Scottish branch to the Continent. We’re seeing similar trends between Scottish and European authors, more so than between Scottish and English writers. If you’re not opposed to the idea, you may have to do some trips toParis. Oh, and we’ve got a Scottish author living in Spain, so I hope you don’t mind making a few trips there. One of the reasons I’m moving to Dundee is to help out with my mother who lives in the area. She’s not been so well, and I won’t be able to travel as much as I did. If you don’t mind, you’ll take my place on a few trips.
So, that was that. Business trips to Spain and France. There was no way I was going to say ‘There is no way in hell I’m moving to Scumdee.’ Instead, I said (eventually), ‘I’m looking forward to working with you inDundee.’
I’ve got a meeting tomorrow in the London office to finalise everything. And I’m looking at flats in Dundee. I’m going through a proper estate agent this time, and HP said he’d pop over to Dundee and view the flats for me. Make sure they’re legit. This time I’m getting a proper place to live. I’ve had a talk with D about not moving toLondon, and while she didn’t speak to me for a couple of days, she forgave me when a friend from work offered to share a flat with her. Also, I talked to the shop manager where I’m working now, and they’re more than happy to keep me on for January until I leave for Scotland. In fact, that keeps me working with them through the Sales, and after that they wouldn’t have needed me anyway.
So, yeah. All’s looking up. I guess fate did play a part. But maybe it wasn’t my drunken mother who tipped the scales, but an agent who doesn’t listen when other people talk. Either way, I’m moving back to Scotland in about a month. Yeah, crazy!