It’s been an odd few weeks since I last posted here, and I’ve had much and little to say, if you see what I mean. Married life doesn’t really fit in with an effective, regular blogging schedule. Nevertheless, plenty enough has been actually going on since then. I have had odd sort of jobs, and I’ve mostly been left befuddled by a new level of mis-understanding of how employees are employed.

One job was supervising a blind woman in an office: no problem, errands to run, typing to check etc. But that is one inefficient use of salary. The next was receptionist, or rather, the bored-looking security guard who gets to sit on a swivel chair, hand out visitor passes and watch lots and lots of news channel news.

The latest is the school office, which fulls my burning administrator’s need for officiousness whilst actually being quite a pleasant place to work. This one looks to be extending into the new year with a proper job looming, so – if the phone interview with TfL was unsuccessful – I might be in full-time work again soon. And lookit, it seems my calling in life is education sector admin. Huzzah!


Temporarily available

From Toothpaste For Dinner

From Toothpaste For Dinner

I’m beginning to see the appeal of becoming one of these serial unemployed types that you hear about in the newspapers these days. I’m having quite a pleasant time, all things considered, sat at home: today I’m constructing road signs out of coloured cardboard (don’t ask), playing with Google Maps, and waiting for the phone to ring while listening to the Beautiful South.

There’s only the question of money to be dealt with, so I’m biting my tongue to talk to vacuous, squeaky-voiced recruitment consultants who keep trying to convince me to do night shifts scanning documents in Hoddesdon, and trying to find something to occupy my time that doesn’t involve scissors and prittstick. I type at least 15wpm more than Kim Jong-Il, I got advanced scores on Word and Excel, and though am now registered with three temp agencies, have had a miserly total of 9.5 hours work in the last month. Ah, the modern world. I’m slightly pinning some hopes on getting a proper job soon, which would be nice, but until then I’m going to have to run the risk of IDS coming round to knock on my door looking like the vulture muppet and demanding my arms and legs in return for some dole money, thankyouverymuchsiryou’reverykindsiridoffmycaptoyousir. Stupid tories, ruining everything.

…then I found a job

Well, not really. I have 10.5 hours work this week. Perhaps some next week; perhaps not. My wife is the breadwinner right now, a public servant, and I am grabbing what I can. I do believe this puts me in Gareth Stedman Jones‘ “dangerous classes” of casual labour, which is quite exciting. See you down the docks.

I’m an optimistic sort of chap, and have confidence in a master-plan that I don’t really know about, so I figure there’s no point fretting. But I can’t really help but feel an ire on behalf of everyone in this country who isn’t stinking rich right now: some hilariously disingenuous economic spin gives an impression that we’re all in this together, but it isn’t true: just ask Vodafone, who were last month let off £6bn tax – incidentally, not too dissimilar to the amount slashed from welfare benefits by Gideon George Osborne yesterday.

According to the Guardian then, we’ve got a withdrawal of £50 for those on long-term disability benefits. Screw you if you can’t afford Bupa, peasant. Screw you if you can’t afford to defend your rights against huge corporations – £350m goes from legal aid. Screw you if you happen to live in a poor place where there’s crime but no private contracted security – 20% from the police. Screw you if you can’t afford a roof over your head – “half off social housing!” reads like a special offer – it’s not. Screw you if you’ve had to slave through your life looking forward to retirement because you can’t afford a pension – retirement age goes up. Screw you if you can’t afford a car – rail fares to rise. Screw you if you’d like to be educated but can’t afford it – EMA is dismissed for the poorest students as a “bribe”, FE and HE funding is slashed.

And screw you if you think freezing the science budget when it needs to be swelled, raising the schools budget a touch – but taking the pupil premium from within it – or a paltry £1bn green investment bank is sufficient, because you’re wrong, and if you’re not stinking rich, you’re going to suffer. Pleh.

Recommended reading: Johann Hari in the Indie.

I was looking for a job…

And I still am, and it’s pretty much boring and stupid. I’ve not progressed past applications for jobs I’m overqualified for, and there’s just not that many I’d like to do in the first place; and, as your man said, even if I find a job, I’d still be miserable. If anyone would like to give me a perfect job right now, that would be great, ta.

It’s a test of faith I guess: I’m certain there is a right job for me, I just don’t know what it is, or where it is, or when. My wife and I have surprised ourselves by realising it may not be in London, or in the exact career we’ve trained for, or what have you. We are awaiting some sort of guidance. Temping awaits.

I was looking for a job…

It’s job-hunting season chez Simone, again. This means a slew of daily email alerts to read through and mostly discard, because clever old Simone chose to do a Masters with the intention of working at some level of government, be it local, national, civil service, what have you. But now the shiny-chins in charge of killing the public sector have taken all the money for such ventures away, and there’s a distinct over-supply of qualified applicants. Temping here we come.

I suppose it shouldn’t come as too huge a surprise, what with the election and financial crisis and so forth, but really. I’ll forever advocate a strengthening of state apparatus, because it’s the governments duty to care for it’s people, not to hope that greedy people with no commitment will look after others. Follow the current government’s route and you have a pile of poorly-funded charity sector organisations staffed by underpaid, overworked, good-natured folk, plus a private sector content to ignore it’s duties to, for example, the environment and other people, plus a government that sits back and ignores the lot. This might be a gross over-simplification of the marxist-structuralist school, but I don’t think so. This is the way people are inclined, and that’s what a Conservative government wants. I’m all for a state-funded public sector with many jobs, providing fairly for both the less privileged and more privileged alike. It shouldn’t be so hard.


Prior to taking my course, my experience of research involved mostly googling bands and transcribing Pixies songs on a crack copy of Sibelius for my undergraduate dissertation. But I’m a social scientist now, and apparently my trade has tools. I found the methods course fairly uninspiring when actually taking it, but having worked out how to write an essay again I managed to work out that, actually, it was pretty useful and now I’m looking for a job, maybe invaluable.

I’m looking at a job at the IPPR – reading carefully, this may just be the exact job that I could hope for. Reading the job description, I suddenly discover that I am in possession of knowledge and skills to do it – quantitative or qualitative, archival research or focus groups, postal survey or semi-structured interview, desk-based or fieldwork. I discover that I  know about the subject, and care about it – I can argue my case for redistributive welfare, green industrial growth, renewable energy; or against neoliberal ideas of big society which may work for the majority of the population, but make the most vulnerable even more vulnerable; or for democratic participation and individual and community representation at all levels. I have my views and I can do the leg-work to prove it: I’m actually pretty pleased, it’s easy to get bogged down doing a Masters, as if it were for its own sake.

Not much more

I was skipping through some old posts on here, as I sometimes do, and came across this cheery invective, The Grumbling Commuter. Plus ça change, I thought – this last weekend I’ve done a number of the same things that I enjoyed doing in April, and I’ve come back to the same crushingly-dull work. No spring drizzle this time, but a jam-packed tube doesn’t cheer up the righteously indignant mood you’ll find yourself in reading The Road To Wigan Pier.

But there’s hope on the horizon. Despite all appearances, I’m a relentless optimist, but this time with good reason. I either get onto my MA course and change my life around; or I don’t, and I change my life around anyway. It’s time to do something: I’m old enough to not have to be sitting in an office doing the same job I did as a last resort when I left university 6 years ago, temping. I’m big enough and ugly enough to make a career, so I’m all up for it.

I just hope my referee will pull his/her finger out. For the record, I found my solace in Hubert Selby’s Last Exit To Brooklyn then, it seems an age ago that I read that. Now I’m dividing my brain: George Orwell for the tube, PD James’ The Children of Men in the bedroom, Freakonomics in the bathroom.