Don’t accept the first offer, haggle. Apparently. Does that cover first dates as well?

I have been offered job relocation to a much more expensive part of the UK, but it wasn’t a very good salary offer, so I said no. The offer was instantly pushed up to around 25%  more than my existing salary.

Hang on – if you want me, why make a mediocre offer to start?  I said I would think about it but all I can think is hmm, should I refuse again and see if it goes higher? Push my luck?

As it happens, my car insurance just came due. 9 years no-claim bonus, 16 years with the same insurer, £400. In the same post I got a letter from Saga offering car insurance starting from £109 a year. So of course I got an on-line quote. Like for like, plus lower excess than my current insurer, plus a couple of handy extras, the quote came in at £258.

I rang my current insurers to say I wouldn’t be renewing and they instantly dropped my £400 renewal cost down to just over £300. Pass.  But I did ask why, with 16 years loyalty, I didn’t get the best possible offer to start with?

Like why, with my existing proven track record with my current employers, who do want me to relocate, I didn’t get the best possible offer to start with?

How far does this haggling thing go, anyway? Has it spilled over into all sides of our lives?

I’m a mature single on a dating website (write books about it and all) but have I missed a trick here? When someone suggests a first meet over a pub lunch somewhere, should I be responding ‘not unless you send a taxi and make it a proper lunch at the Ritz Grill with you picking up the tab’ just to start the negotiations?

I looked on Amazon – with over ten million titles available, I reckoned there’d be at least one book on the subject. There was one on how to haggle to save money on everything. It was quite expensive – I emailed the author a counter-offer.

But there was no book I could see on haggling for the BIG things.

  • Income.
  • Politics afloat on a sea of money but offering us crappy choices.
  • Lots on religion but nothing comparative, you know, to compete for our patronage and donations.
  • The start of love has millions of books, but none on haggling up front. Once love is launched, there’s some financial advice but most books covering finance are reserved for the end of love, the really expensive bit. May the best haggler win.

It seems that for the really big things  we either have no choices at all, or need iron nerve and bluff.

That’s seriously worrying because my how-to book on successfully meeting mature single men is already on pre-order and if I missed an entire haggle culture, it’s not going to be as seriously useful as I thought it was.

sigh


mr-will-do-nicely

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Are you a glowing autumn rose? How-To meet a Mr Will-Do-Nicely … coming soon.

A couple of the reviews on Rainbow, while friendly enough, remarked they had bought the book thinking it was a guide to flourishing as a mature single. Well, in a way it was, the men (and women) Dorothy came across were exaggerated for fictional purposes, but they are distinctive types to be found on every website for mature singles.  A small cross-section in a very large field, you could say.

I’ve written blogs about the types, and I certainly had plenty of material. Write another novella, pulling in more types, and more advice? Or do a how-to book?

I went with the how-to. Well, I went with two. There’s one coming out On Meeting Mr Will-Do-Nicely, and there are times you’d think I was trying to keep all the single mature men to myself, it is so crammed with cautionary tales. I’m not, honestly! The fact remains that most of them pass from hand to hand like hot potatoes (leaving burned fingers in their wake) because eligible men in their fifties and sixties, especially the ones who have been single for a while, are a whole new ballgame.

So why even bother, risk being hurt, heartbroken, scammed, poorer but wiser?  Because we are gorgeous, and still fizzing with life and adventure, and forewarned is forearmed. Go have fun. Do no harm.

As I wrote Mr Will-Do-Nicely I kept adding bits of advice I’d been given, or discovered for myself, which have nothing to do with dating and everything to do with making the best of the totally unexpected surge of energy and sunshine suddenly lighting up life and turning us into autumn roses.  It’s an odd reality that women in their late forties, even early fifties, menopausal and irritable and mourning the loss of fertility, are the most resentful of our Indian summer. You’re how old? You cannot be feeling healthier, fitter, more interested in sex and life generally, than we are, we feel old, you are old!

Ooooh, ffssssssssst.  Whether they like or not (well, they don’t) you can feel better than them. You do. They’ll find out, if they can shake that attitude. Sometime after the menopause the rush of life comes roaring back, for at least a while, and it is wonderful. It is so easy to waste it, with the wrong mind-set. Eventually I’d added so many notes about that it was diluting the singles book. So I moved them to another, On Perfecting The Indian Summer.

Am I an expert? No. Qualified to give advice? Only by experience. These aren’t books that order you about, lay down the law, they are How-To books based on reality.  I’m in my late fifties, I didn’t expect the Indian summer myself, and I did waste the start of it. I briefly joined a mature singles website to research one of my whodunits (Five Six Pick Up Sticks) and later I joined another for Nine Ten Begin Again so I could ask some fairly direct questions, and eventually I wrote A Second Rainbow. I’ve had a lot of fun, in the name of research, along the way. As for the Indian summer itself, I’ve met many women enjoying the sunshine, including my own half-sisters over a decade ahead of me in age, and they’ve all been generous with sharing advice. I played with the subject, in Eleven Twelve, where I called it the gloaming, and that put me in touch with more autumn roses. There are a lot of us quietly out there.

It will be interesting to see how the books do but if a single reader, just one, enjoys herself more as a result of reading either, they did their job.

Out sooooooooooooooon

Immigrant gets passport *PHEW*

Second try, and I sent in an accompanying letter which would have made a cat cry. I did get a colleague to read it first to make sure it wouldn’t put backs up, and she howled with laughter, then said oh hell pass me a hanky, but overall verdict, no hackles. And in fact, bless you at the passport office, the second application  was accepted, I got it in a week, so thank you thank you.

For those who don’t slavishly read my blogs (why not?) my original passport was stolen a couple of months ago and what I assumed would be pretty straightforward turned into a bit of a mission.  I got nervous. You see, I’m an immigrant. Uh oh. Controls kicking in already?  My parents kept their British citizenship when they moved to Africa but they DID move to Africa and I was born there, raised there, schooled there, married and divorced there, and in fact decidedly middle-aged when I moved here.  So all this anti-immigrant talk makes me a little nervous. I may have the passport (thank you thank you) and may have been registered as a British citizen from birth, but when it comes down to it I talk funny and there is a little eyeing askance when I am competing with locals for jobs.

It goes both ways, you know. My parents lived in Africa as Brits, keeping their citizenship (lucky for me), their religion, their diet, their lifestyle. Most of their friends were other Brits. They celebrated Christmas at the height of summer in the southern hemisphere with fake snow, eating roast turkey with bread sauce even as the sweat dripped off their noses, and to the end of their lives they referred to the UK as home. It was resented by locals who felt they should fit in, adapt, become Saffers.

So when I hear resentment now about people bringing their traditions, their religion, their diet, their lifestyle and not rushing to adapt – well – give it time. A generation or two. Brits abroad don’t change instantly, or indeed at all. Cut immigrants a little slack. We’ll get there. We do want to fit in, we do want to be here but we are different and we always will be.

I also should say that starting over when you are middle-aged and already had a pretty nice life is not a case of waltzing in, looking round, and grabbing all the goodies. I arrived in 2000 with  a trunk, an aunt able to put me up very briefly in her retirement village, and £1000 in my bank account. I’m luckier than some immigrants in that English is my home language, albeit every time I open my mouth people still instantly ask ‘where are you from?’ which doesn’t get old at ALL. I found a temp job typing and opening mail at a local council within two days of my arrival. The pay was lousy, and the job boring, but it was pay and a job, and on the strength of it I spent my £1000 on a very elderly car which refused to do more than 40 mph, and paid the double deposit and rent of a cheap flat in a seriously crummy area.

Within 6 weeks I found a slightly better paid job with a call centre. Then I was offered a maternity cover job doing real admin with a national company, which wasn’t as well paid as the call centre but would put me back on the path where I wanted to be. It did – it was extended past the return of the mum because I was doing an internal audit. The next job started as a 6 month contract and lasted 10 years. It gave me a learning curve, a credit rating, a mortgage, a decent car and a future but it started as a junior credit control position.

My daughter finished school and came over to the UK to study. When she had her degree  in business studies she took an immediate job opening post (the apple didn’t fall far from that tree) in a hiring agency. Two years down the line she had a good job with an international company, which will give her the final experience she needs to land her dream job. Some of the friends she’d made at Uni who graduated at the same time were still sitting at home waiting for the dream job to pop through the letter box. Some were even a little resentful that she, an immigrant with an accent, had beaten them to the good job. Well, now you know how.

Immigrants don’t expect everything on a plate. Chancers, sure, will try to milk the system but there actually aren’t that many of them. Most of us are trying to start over because the life we had before isn’t an option any more. We are truly grateful for the opportunity for a new life, and we will work our butts off to make the best of the opportunity.

It’s a funny old world, and who knows where the next bend of the road will take us?

Anyway, thanks for reading this.

 

 

 

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