I used to be a tabloid hack. I’ve knocked on the doors of the bereaved, had doors slammed in my face, been chased by dogs up driveways. I’ve blagged my way into hotels to chase celebs, asked footballers who they are intimate with and attended strip shows all in the name of journalism.
I’ve been unemployed for too long. I’ve previously been a reporter, a feature writer, a travel writer, a critic. I’ve even designed pages. I’ve also been a lecturer. Oh, and a bingo operative but that was a long time ago.
I’ve seen the journalism industry decimated and many colleagues made redundant. I’ve watched the government’s public sector cuts leave more of my colleagues without jobs. I’ve travelled the length of the country seeking employment – willing to take jobs for which I’m over-qualified and those for which I’ve no experience whatsoever.
I’ve applied for work to earn as little as £15,000 and as much as £40,000. I’ve applied for full-time work, part-time work, temporary work. Still the Tories tell me I’m lazy and a sponger.
Following the many rejections I’ve wasted afternoons watching magpies attack each other over food I’ve strategically placed to create such friction. As I watch yet another repeat of CSI to pass the time – with my cat Chaplin on my lap – I remember the glitzy parties I attended, the free travel abroad staying in the poshest hotels, interviewing the quirky and annoying the powerful. I wonder if my memories keep me sane or are the reason I fantasise about killing my noisy neighbour.
I wonder if I’ll ever work full-time in a permanent post again. Here I share my memories of life as a journalist, the day-to-day existence of attending Jobseekers’ Gym (where one walks everywhere) and the benefits of Dieting on the Dole (sardine curry recipes and a love of mushy peas).
I’ll also defend the unemployed – because no one chooses to live on £67.50 a week if there is an alternative.