I spent many hours watching the Tottenham riots on the news. My own anger is growing as this recession bites, but there isn’t a Currys within walking distance so I’m burying my head in books to gain some long-term perspective and distract myself from thoughts of how I’m going to pay my debts, my bills or buy food for me and Chaplin.
Good books, I’m hoping, will stop me from becoming the sort of person who appears on afternoon telly, let alone one who enjoys watching it. On weekdays the Loose Women are so vacuous there must be no air in the studio.
So, while watching the world’s wealthiest nation buckle under the strain, I came over all Jimmy Herf. I should be out on a moonless night, walking in the rain, bristling with anger at the injustice of capitalism: but I never did cope well with the cold.
I’m more like Jos Coney, though, living in a city of vast riches and appalling poverty, a victim of economic injustice, sinking from respectability to a social outcast: I live in jogging bottoms and only wash my hair now when it is absolutely necessary
I’m not moaning; I’m struggling. Like many, I’m already looking beyond my usual job choices of journalist and lecturer having applied for youth work, project management, PhD funding, jobs in marketing, PR and media consultancy, careers advice posts, and various vacancies in research. I’ve applied for full-time work and part-time work and even sent my CV on spec. With this I have successfully secured three-hours teaching a week – starting in 2012.
I wonder if I could look yet further to secure gainful employment. I’m thinking bat biologist or volcanologist. I’m very keen on both these positions despite not being remotely qualified. There are no volcanoes where I live but there are Pipistrelle bats. I wonder if I can put these in my little Looking for Work booklet to show to Job Centre Plus anyway.
I’d prefer a job where I use the skills I have gained and the qualifications I both worked hard and paid for. It’s not a lot to ask that your experience, skills and qualifications are valued … especially in a society that assures if we part with thousands to gain a degree we will be more employable. We can only be employable if there is the employment.
While I don’t want to contribute to the con of the Big Society, I do want something to do: So many skills, too much time to waste comparing myself to characters in books. So I’ve started applying for volunteer roles … near to my home so I can walk there (damn you, Stagecoach, and your extortionate fare prices!). I found there is a queue of people ready to do the same.
I also thought maybe I could start searching again for an agent for the novel I have sitting on my computer, then Francis Wheen wrote in the FT on Saturday, “These are bleak times for authors. Most of us – by which I mean those not in the exalted realm inhabited by JK Rowling and Dan Brown – find it ever harder to persuade publishers to give us an advance that will cover a few month’s electricity bills, let alone keep us supplied with booze and bacon sandwiches for the next couple of years while we write our masterpiece”.
Suddenly I just fancied a bacon butty. I’m obsessing about food. I think because it’s not always readily available. However, rather than take my time now to relish each mouthful of my meal I grab at it, like the youngest child in a family of eight. It’s a good thing Chaplin and I have vowed not to eat each other’s food or each other.
I realise now how much money I wasted when filling the shopping trolley with things I fancied that went off before I got a chance to eat them. That, at least, is something positive I have learned from this experience.
What I have in my fridge: Half a tin of sardines waiting to be turned into a curry tasty enough to make Jamie Oliver say, “cushty”; a bottle of Netto cava; half a tube of garlic paste; half a tube of tomato paste and a jar of horseradish sauce that needs slinging.
What I want: A meal in a restaurant. I’d order pigeon breast with red cabbage, woodland salad and redcurrant sauce, followed by duck leg, dauphinoise potato, beansprout fricassee and a cider jus, washed down with a nice, rich Rioja. It would cost me about £46.50.