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Posted on: Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ages ago, I wrote about having a complete existential crisis being a bit stressed out. After the wedding. Suddenly, you see, there was no longer ‘the wedding’ to consume maybe not every, but certainly lots of, my waking thoughts. 

Honeymoon in Northumberland? Bye bye. You were fun while you lasted. I've never eaten so much M&S party food in my life.

Sister Clare’s wedding? (basically, for us, an extension of our own nuptial celebrations which gave us the opportunity to bask in the glory of love and say a proper ‘how are ye?’ to everyone we managed a brief nod to on our own wedding day) Over and done with.

The Bedders descend on India for Narahari Wedding Number 2 and some Extended Honeymoon Fun? Been there, done that, didn’t buy any T-shirts (but DID purchase a range of rather nice souvenirs including a weird door handle in the shape of a hand offov a random Free Tibet market stall. Seriously, we did.)

 And then it was January. And it was terribly bleak and depressing. Everyone said that life ‘post-wedding’ would be a bit of a crash landing after riding on a morphine-like high for so long. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t ready to fling ourselves off the Tyne Bridge or anything – but we were certainly left a little bit grey after 2011: The Year of Joyousness and Fuzzy Moments.
Ah, but we know ourselves well, Bedders and I. We’d sort of anticipated our massive freak out. A storm had been a-brewing in the run-up to our wedding. We’d probably been having conversations along the following lines since this time last year.
Laura: When we’re married, what’ll we do?
Adam: Hmm?
Laura: Well, you know, like what’s our plan? Di at work has a five-year plan. I think we need a five-year plan.
Adam: Well-
Laura: But then a thought of a five-year plan totally FREAKS ME OUT because, like, what are the options? Keep going at work, maybe go for a promotion, pop out a couple of babies, job’s a good ‘un? That makes my hands go clammy. Years and years and years and years of doing the same job and...
Adam: I see-

Laura: I feel like Renton in Trainspotting. "Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home and dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. BUT I CHOSE NOT TO CHOOSE LIFE!"

Adam: Right.
Laura: My hands are clammy.
Adam: My hands are clammy, too.

And so we considered our options. We needed to do something different. We referred back to our list of likes and dislikes. We recalled our aversions to driving long distances (Adam's) and periodic feelings of rising panic (mine).

We bought a book called Living and Working in New Zealand. We did our 'points'. We seriously, seriously considered it. We decided it wouldn't be right for us for all sorts of reasons pertaining to distance and family and the big fat danger that we'd never come back.

So then we struck on the idea of VSO. It ticked loads of our boxes, namely:

EXPOSURE TO OTHER LANGUAGES (not going to write 'we'll become totally and utterly fluent in other languages' - maybe a bit ambitious)

And we persued it. We had an interview in London. We met Alice the 'women's campaigner', who was nice if a bit scarily earnest and Debbie, a primary school teacher with grown-up sons who wanted to 'do something different'. We did some excruciating icebreakers and teamwork activities. We had gruelling (separate) interviews where they asked us about how often we argued (NEVER!), our attitudes to and history with drugs and how we'd cope with being outsiders. Yikes.

We were accepted. We nearly asphyxiated.

We started planning where we'd like to go and when.

We started planning a 'final hurrah' of a summer, doing the Coast to Coast and having a big pub-based fundraiser.

And then, well...they got a bit rubbish.

We were a bit spooked by the fact that they couldn't guarantee Adam a placement. If I went as the 'main volunteer', we'd have had no problem. But then Adam'd be out of related employment for a year (or two years, as became more likely after the interview), and when you work in agricultural policy, that's kind of a long time.

As I said, teachers do crazy lefty things like working in the developing world for a year or two all the time and it doesn't seem to damage their employability. We didn't think it'd be the same for Adam.

After a particularly discouraging two hour conference call in which our placement advisor told us she didn't know anything about agriculture or agricultural placements, that someone else would have to ring us with information (they didn't), that a three month notice period isn't workable, that they can offer no guarantees about placements until the 11th hour and that secondary school English teachers can work in either Ethiopia or Papau New Guinea (deep breath), we decided reluctantly that we couldn't do it. We have a mortgage, man. We couldn't give up our jobs with a view to leaving in September and then have no placement and a house full of tenants. Uh uh. 

And then a job came up at Adam's work. 

A job that he'd really, really fancy.

In, err, Brussels. 

And he might just have got it. Yesterday. 

Let's just re-check the list, shall we?

TRAVEL - yup.
EXPOSURE TO OTHER LANGUAGES - time to brush up on that GCSE! In French, not Flemish. Or Dutch. Obv.
WORTHY - not so much. But there's a possibility we could ask for a sabbatical/some unpaid leave and do a short-term project somewhere. My feelers are out...

Oh God. My head is in a mess. But a good mess.



  1. Woohooooooooo!!! It was as if it was meant to be! That's amazing news, well done Bedders. So what happens with your work, are you going to find a new place before you go, or just head out there with him and chance it?


  2. Penny! Thanks. Weeeell, randomly I've seen a job in a school in Brussels that's almost too good to be true...so I'll apply and we'll see! Argh.

  3. Erk!! Good luck, keep us posted!


  4. Exciting times... Congratulations and hope your job search goes well.

  5. Oh my god!!!!! EXCITING!!!! Well done Bedders :)


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