Escape to nowhere …

For those of you who still think unemployment is easy, who still think some sign on as a lifestyle choice, consider this.

My previous past-time of watching made-for-TV movies to amuse myself has lost any intelligence. My search for something, anything to do has lost any sophistication. The books pile up unread and I now watch romcoms to produce a bitter laugh as I lie on the settee.

Pre-recession romance

I recently watched If Only, a truly awful film starring the lad who once wore a tinfoil hat in Eastenders and a woman who could be Buffy the Vampire Slayer but probably isn’t. I watched it to escape thinking, to relax, to feel my brain rotting, so as not to consider my poverty and the very real chance that I could be stuck on the dole for decades.

Then, at one hour nine minutes and 21 seconds in, I hear this little speech, told in a typical British pub by the tinfoil hat wearer, as he remembers his dad who had loved his factory job:

“The owner [of the factory] decided to relocate and they all lost their jobs. This became his second home. From the age of 15 I don’t think I ever saw him sober. And I have been determined not to let that happen to me and live my life at the whim of others.”

The laugh this aroused stuck in my throat. The film was made in 2004, before the recession, when young, handsome go-getters and their American girlfriends could dine out in posh restaurants, jump in black cabs without coppering up but still be excited on finding a retro bargain at Portobello Road market.

Then I read that Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment, says:

“Now is a great time to apply for one of the tens of thousands of Christmas jobs which are being advertised.

“Temporary work gives you an idea of the kind of career you might want, looks good on your CV and also gives you something to talk about in job interviews. It can even lead to more permanent employment.”

I hadn’t thought that I could benefit from temporary, seasonal work to see what sort of career I would want: I’ve only been working for a few decades and was inspired to be a journalist by Kermit the frog in the 80s but maybe I’m not as sure as I thought.

I also hadn’t considered that 20 years of a journalism career and experience of teaching wasn’t enough to talk about in a job interview: maybe dressing up as an elf will make all the difference.

Is even Kermit considering his future?

This comes, of course, as Royal Mail advertise for posties and get a massive 80,000 applicants. I was nearly one of them but realised I’m too unfit for it but, no doubt, department stores are searching for Santas for which I’m in better shape.

If I was successful, though, I would be taking a job from someone who needed it more – you see,  I’m happy to work as a journalist or a lecturer, for which I’m qualified and trained: I’ll work full-time, I’ll get good stories, write entertaining features, train future hacks … if someone fancies creating some jobs.

But now the world is “on verge of a jobs recession” according to the International Labour Organization so this seems unlikely and seasonal jobs are not going to help the 2.5 million currently unemployed in the UK. A massive jobs slump, we’re warned, will inevitably lead to global social unrest.

Raymond Torres, director of the ILO International Institute for Labor Studies, said in the World of Work Report 2011 released by ILO in Geneva on Monday:

“We have reached the moment of truth. We have a brief window of opportunity to avoid a major double-dip in employment.”

In the UK alone we need more than the Tories self-centred plan A as they celebrate a tiny 0.5% economic growth, more than weak words from the Lib Dems and virtual silence from Labour.

Perhaps what we need is more support for the global occupations – 951 cities in 82 countries – and, with more of us threatened with unemployment, recognise that we too are the 99%

If only …

How much money I have: About £28 to last two weeks – minus the inevitable £5 for the gas surcharges

My plans for today: I have some job applications to complete and romcoms to avoid watching

8 thoughts on “Escape to nowhere …

  1. Hi,

    I’ve noticed your posts are getting increasingly depressive! 😦 You need to try and cheer up a bit, look more on the bright side i.e., as you said, the other day you don’t need to join the masses struggling through the daily commute and you can avoid silly office politics!

    Chin up!


      • I’m not depressed, Charlotte. Thanks for your concern, though. I think I’m managing to avoid depression because I’m too aware of the many, many millions who are struggling as I am – either in work or not. I’m trying to be as specific as possible in sharing the experience of unemployment, challenge some stereotypes, view it from the perspective of someone who was in a “middle class” profession and put it into an economic and political context. The experience is not a cheery one so it ‘s difficult to be upbeat … but I do try to get in a few laughs. I mean, there’re two photos of Kermit.

  2. I have suffered from clinical depression in the past and it’s horrible. I was slightly concerned also by your losing interest in things, e.g. remarking on the huge pile of books going unread. Lack of interest and a morose feeling is classic with the illness. Also, I am unfortunately in a similar situation to you; although not unemployed, I am struggling hugely through a dire lack of money. One of the main things that helps me keep sane is exercise. It doesn’t have to cost anything, a walk with a friend or the dog (if like me you have one) or jogging are both good, and getting outside doing exercise is one of the best ways to beat that morose, desperate feeling, even if you are not actually clinically depressed.

    • Thanks, Charlotte. I will get out into the fresh air. I do sit with the window open for Chaplin but feel fairly certain that doesn’t count as exercise. I walked back from signing on today and ended up having to carry my thick, Victorian-style frock coat which I was wrong to take with me – so that turned into an incredible workout!

  3. Sounds like you will see through the bad press and misinformation.
    Take a look at UKIP, we need good writers and thinkers.
    It’s not a paid job, but it keeps me busy, and you can get out and meet people.

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