Amusingly I can’t get the Kirsty MacColl song Days out of my head. I do hope I’m not descending into self-pity with incidental music.
Like some of you, I’m now planning to enjoy the Bank Holliday – but what to do? Having completed many job applications, and desperately needing a rest, I’ve been staring at my bookcases. A change is as good as a rest. I have four across one wall filled with books, pamphlets, some ornaments and many a nick-nack.
I could, of course, read one of the books but I’m in the sort of mood associated with bored children who, once so bored as to be irritated, find any suggestion of entertainment annoying. No, I don’t want to draw a picture. No, I don’t want to go to the park. I want to sit here and sneer, staring at my bookcases.
I have many things from previous travels. I’d always hoped I’d be a seasoned traveller, with a home full of African masks, Turkish rugs and authentic trunks once used by intrepid sea-farers, full of alcohol and fine foods. Instead I have a tin of sunflower seeds from Amsterdam, a wooden heart from Zagreb, a hand-painted carving of Che Guevara from Cuba and a sculpture of a girl with a bird in her hand from Georgia, US. There are other bits and bobs, some tacky reminders of New York, tackier religious icons from Sicily and Venice, even a pinecone from Southampton and a snow globe from Manchester.
These do not make the sophisticated collection of an intellectual traveller but make me smile. Every item is a reminder of not just a place I’ve been but the people I met, the moment I bought it. Some are a reminder of the articles I wrote about my travels – and what I’m now missing out on. I’ve not had a holiday in almost two years and think I’m unlikely to have one for a while.
But there’s not much time for reminiscing as you’d think when you’re unemployed: finding a job is a job in itself. I have submitted three applications today. I have some to complete over the weekend to submit on Tuesday.
One can’t help, though, but look back and wonder if your best years are behind you. Those in their twenties, in the unemployment line, I hope are still filled with ambition and hope, determined to make sure they fulfil their dreams and potential. I do think journalism students can still enjoy a good career – they just need to think laterally, of new ways to write, to interview, to research and consider all the multimedia options available: blog, my pretties, blog! We need these trainees to be willing to work all hours to keep us informed, educated and entertained.
So I will simply, and a little cruelly, take some joy from knowing I’m not working the Bank Holiday, as many of you will be. I’ve worked many in my time – sometimes for enormous amounts of money, often for not a thank you, kiss my bum or anything.
I remember one Christmas Day, working for no extra pay, and having to drive to a tiny village in search of a doctor who had given the wrong meds, or prescribed the Pill with disregard for the middle Englanders, or something. The village was pretty and festive with trees lit up by fairylights, small cottages and massive mansions subtly decorated (no garish dancing Santas for this lot) and a wooden manger displaying a blonde baby Jesus. It was, of course, snowing and it fell perfectly on the clean pavements. It was nothing like where I lived at the time – where the snow was useful for covering burnt-out cars. But would you knock on someone’s front door as they tucked into turkey to ask about their cock-ups? Even if their house was nicer than yours? No, nor did I. I sat outside and phoned the national’s news desk to clearly describe the house – then I said no one was home and I went to open my presents.
I now have James Sit Down stuck in my head as I think “if I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being poor”. (I interviewed Tim Booth once and asked if the song got on his nerves … I soon realised that I did, but not the song.)
I hope you have a fabulous Bank Holiday no matter what you’re up to.