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Furlough Diaries: Lauren Hodges

This is the FOURTH  (oh my, this does go on doesn’t it…) “Furlough Diaries” email… if you missed it, last week’s was: Peter, the Jolly Good Beer warehouse manager.

Today started with trying to understand what the government had announced and changed over the weekend… to an end result of: nothing that affects my business really. And I just want to be clear again that right now I see no safe and viable way to resume business for the time-being. Nothing is changing there, and I doubt it is going to change before July. The safety & well-being of my staff and their families comes first – and my judgement is that remaining furloughed with the business mothballed is by far the best option.

Literally as I type this up this has now been released by the government: OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy – so there’s some fun lock-down reading for y’all. Note that it says July 4th is the earliest they’ll consider re-opening the hospitality sector and this will be under stringent “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines (which are not defined yet I think.) So there we go. 

ANYWAY… This week we meet Lauren, who works for me mainly in a credit control role – chasin’ y’all when you’re late paying us… tut tut… Lauren does some other book-keeping work as well and actually used to be a Jolly Good Beer customer when working in Cambridge pubs, one of my first customers in fact.

Enough from me… I will be sending around an email of my own on more business related matters later this week I think. But for now, here’s Lauren:

Hey folx, I’m Lauren and I work for Yvan in many guises but mainly I perform credit control services for Jolly Good Beer. This means the majority of customers may never have spoken to me until the last weeks before lockdown when it all started to go a bit Pete Tong. My job is calling customers who have payment issues and trying to help them out. I also spend a large amount of time each month organising paperwork and sorting out returns & credits  with brewers. All the boring stuff that no one else likes, but I love. 

The Millstone © Nicola K. Reiss

My background is alcohol retail, I have worked in pubs and off licences since I was 18 and a fine life dedicated to booze it has been. I started off in a John Smiths pub in Stamford, Lincs called the Millstone which was (is?) an absolute dive. The customers were rough, the beer was shoddy, we had karaoke twice a week and I was a terrible barmaid. I bloody loved it. I knew that even though I didn’t want to work in dive bar all my life I definitely wanted to part of this atmosphere of camaraderie for as long as I could. That was 20 years ago and I have worked in every type of booze retail going and I’ve learnt a lot along the way; I know my botrytis from my brettanomyces. 

Unfortunately, this all came to an abrupt end 2 years ago when I had 2 heart attacks and was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. I was heart broken, literally. All I’d ever learnt was, I thought, now useless. As you all know, selling booze is a high volume business and that means lugging vast quantities of the stuff up and down which is no longer possible for me. I was ill, depressed and skint. However, here we meet the hero of the hour, the wonderful Yvan Seth; in need of a credit controller who knew the business and being a friend he sorted me out and offered me a job. It has been a live saver. Thanks buddy.

I was the last to go on furlough but the first to be isolated by doctors. I haven’t left the house for more than 30 mins since March 8th. Thankfully I have a lot of hobbies. I sew, knit, garden, I read Sci-Fi constantly and I am a regular contributor to a radio show.

My main day to day hobby is knitting. I knit jumpers and tops, but i have been known to bang out some gloves and socks for Xmas presents. Here’s a few bits I finished recently: Ghost Horses Fair Isle Pattern by Boyland Knits, Socktober Sock Master Pattern by Kirsten Kapur. You can find me on Ravelry: Queenblag

I’ve also been doing a bit of embroidery & sewing. I like to make soft furnishings and clothing mainly. I have nothing finished I can show you lot (I doubt you want a keek at my knickers..) but here’s a little embroidery I’m doing for detail on a jacket.I am a regular on 8 out of 10 tracks which is a radio show dedicated to introducing the good people of Cambridge to brand spanking new music and then arguing its merits for entertainment. You can find all our previous shows on Mixcloud, here’s a link to the last show I was on through the power of the internet in March:

If you really want to have look at what I’m reading have a pop on my GoodReads profile:

I give you all my best wishes and remember – you don’t have to diet, you don’t have to be creative, you don’t have to be perfect, your job is to survive. That is enough. Thank you for staying in if you can, you are saving my life.


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