Hello Pickles fans, it’s been a while – but I see TOMW has been entertaining you with tales of alcohol and dough.

We have been ships in the night recently, what with my work, and her work, and my college. We communicate through a sophisticated system of notes left on the kitchen table, which vary wildly in legibility depending on the fatigue of the author. I did consider archiving all the notes so we could reminisce in our dotage, but decided that even as sentimental as we are, we probably won’t be moved to tears by scraps of paper scrawled with “the beetroot in the fridge needs using up” in years to come.

So… where are we at now?

It actually feels like things in Cafe Waltshaw world have gone up a gear . This is because I have applied for voluntary redundancy (or ‘voluntary exit’ as we are supposed to call it – I think that has tones of euthanasia personally). There is absolutely no guarantee I will be selected for redundancy, and I have really no idea what sort of chance I stand either.  If I do get ‘selected for exit’ (ok it’s making me think Logan’s Run now), then I would be given a lump-sum and two weeks to clear my desk. I find out in mid-March, and would leave on 31st March…. which I think would be a fittingly abrupt end to my 11 years of increasing dissatisfaction with the Mother of Parliaments.

We have to be prepared for the eventuality so we could hit the ground running and get on with setting up a business and not eating into the lump-sum. So we have been looking at commercial properties, drawing up a business plan and reading all sorts of scary shit on the internet about just how much a kitchen ventilation system costs. We have also commissioned a Beth to do some design work and logos and stuff, so we can have that ready and look all professional.

It is starting to feel quite real, and it could be happening quite soon.

Or not. There is every possibility that I won’t get selected, which I know will feel like quite a blow after gearing up for it. I’ll be fine though. It is still worth doing this work now, so even if we don’t start now, when we do will we have already done quite a bit of groundwork.

It’s all a bit much for my tiny brain at times – the thought that I could only be here for another few weeks. I’ve spent most of my adult life working for the House, and as most of you know, I have had some ups and downs in that time. The thought of finally extricating myself from the place is almost unreal. My sister asked me the other day if I felt scared, and to be honest I don’t. I feel a surprising lack of anxiety about turning my back on a secure job-for-life. The House has kindly made it easier for me by treating me a bit like shit over the years admittedly.

I’m trying to rein it in – not least because I have a bloody great report to write at work – and also for my own sanity, but it is hard to think of anything else right now.

So until mid-March, I’m in limbo and waiting for the great leap forward.*

*Those of you who are aficionados of left-wing 80s agit-pop, will recognise this as the title of a Billy Bragg song, which has become a bit of a theme tune of mine recently. If you see me scuffing up Millbank smiling with my iPod on, it is probably because I am listening to the wonderfully apposite lyric:

“one leap forward, two leaps back, will politics get me the sack?”