Monday, 28 June 2010

Swindling Scientologists

Job Applications: 8
Interviews: 0
Pitches: 4
Commissions: 0

In an attempt to distance myself from our slack national football team, I got straight in on the job-hunting act at 10am this morning. By midday I had pitched four feature ideas, e-mailed one job application and contacted one potential business contact about an idea that has been simmering in the back of my mind for some time now.

Once that was out the way, I gave myself a pat on the head. Literally. I felt a bit weird doing it, but I knew it was deserved. I had done more in those two hours than I had in the previous two days.

After the head-patting-induced endorphins had dissipated, a crashing realisation hit me like a bus to the balls. I still wasn't doing enough. Despite my (albeit sporadic) job applications and feature pitches, I was still just doing the same as every other graduate of this uniquely-unfortunate academic year. I needed to try something else.

I also needed/wanted American Dad! Season 5 on DVD and some nice shorts, so I headed to central London to make some purchases and consider my next course of action.

As I exited Oxford Circus station, I was handed a card by a creepily chirpy-looking man. It was an invite to a screening of The Story of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health at the Dianetics and Scientology Life Improvement Centre in Tottenham Count Road.

Excited at the prospect of 'achieving my goals' by doing nothing more than watching a short film about 'the most popular book on the mind ever written', I quickly made my necessary purchases and headed for the Centre.

On arrival I was greeted by an enthusiastic and attractive girl called Natalie. She had a glint in her eye, a spring in her step, and a whole host of other cliche characteristics that suggested that she was far from the brainwashed cult-member that I had been expecting. After reassuring me that, no, I wasn't too late for the film, she showed me to the empty screening room, switched off the lights and disappeared... no stage did any sacreligious thoughts enter my mind.

As the film started, I began to get a sense of why this philosophy/cult/religion/pseudoscience had obtained such notoriety. There were odd symbols on the walls of the theatre, the chair was suspiciously comfortable (as if it didn't want me to leave...) and founder L. Ron Hubbard's name was mentioned in the opening sequence at least 10 times between blinks.

Overall, the film itself was pretty uninspiring. It didn't really answer any questions about what Dianetics or Scientology actually were; rather it just relentlessly bigged up the supreme master of the mind (L. Ron Hubbard, in case you were wondering), for a good 20 minutes.

I exited the film unconvinced. Despite his incredible observation that the mind could affect the body, and even though he had been awarded an impressive number of scout badges in his youth, L. Ron Hubbard seemed no closer to solving my unemployment problems than any of the disinterested temp agency workers I'd encountered in the past 6 weeks.

A different, less enthusiastic-looking woman called Margaret approached me in reception to ask if I liked the film. "The production values were surprisingly good," I answered. "There must be a lot of money in this business". She wasn't amused, and after failing to persuade me to buy a copy of Dianetics, she ushered Natalie over to answer all my questions.

To her credit, she did very well. I could tell that she was intelligent and well-read, and was quick to answer many of the questions that I raised. However, this made it all the more tragic that she believed the pseudoscience that she was so readily preaching.

Before leaving, I had a go on an e-meter. I held the metal things while Natalie asked me to think of something that was concerning me. This would be the starting point of my therapy. By identifying the problem, my journey to enlightenment could begin.

Of course, I thought about the job situation and waited for the dial to move.

It didn't.

Maybe I'm not worried about unemployment after all!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

A Small Boost

Job Applications: 7
Interviews: 0

Yesterday was pretty constructive, all things considered. The daily job hunt started early, some time between two teenage boys discussing the physical attributes of a substitute maths teacher outside my window ('nice rack', apparently) and me finding my Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back DVD despite the fact that I'd lost it in a different house some six months previously.

I managed to find three jobs that were of vague interest to me. To be perfectly frank, none of them really tickled my pickle. But as I have previously explained, pickle-tickling is no longer my highest priority.

If that wording unsettles you, I can only apologise.

I spent a good 40 minutes tailoring each C.V to fit the requirements of the job. I emphasised the vast array of skills I developed throughout the three-year admin career that preceeded university; such as misfiling documents, 'accidently' hanging up on difficult customers and walking away nonchelantly when the printer jammed.

Although I consider it to be testament to my independence and negotiation skills, I decided not to mention the annual office debate about why I should be *forced* to pay for and bring in cakes for the office ON MY OWN BIRTHDAY...

Once that enraging memory had found its way back to the nook of my mind reserved for the likes of George Bush's re-election, Bono's face and Theo Paphitis's general smugness, I checked the uni intranetmajig to discover that I had received a first in Journalism and Creative Writing from the 117th greatest university in the country.

It might not be Cambridge, but it is surely at least as academically and vocationally valuable as an A Level in General Studies from one of the country's better sixth form colleges.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Will Write for Food

Job Applications: 4
Interviews: 0

I rolled out of bed at about 12, much later than usual and definitely not the sort of time I should be getting used to. Unemployment is no excuse for such behavior. Even bums like me need to make trips to Costcutter for Ross pizzas and beef Space Raiders before lunch time. However, this is not my usual getting up time. Due to the chronic insomnia that hangs over me like a simile that I’m too inarticulate to put together, I tend to fall asleep at stupid o’clock and awaken at barely-past-stupid before falling into the odd state of semi-consciousness that’s not quite as enjoyable or spiritually productive as lucid dreaming, but still manages to eat away time marginally quicker than full consciousness.

Today I decided to start keeping a log of my progress on the road to employment. Seeing as I have semi-realistic dreams of being a journalist, many people have encouraged me to write a blog as a means of whoring my writing skills unto the world. I feel kind of strange doing that though, particularly as I rarely read blogs myself. They mostly seem to be written by the kind of people who yammer on about some issue at a party, despite having very little idea of what they're actually talking about.

My blog won’t be like that, of course.

So how is my journey going so far? Well, if I were to employ my GCSE English skills I’d be inclined to use the following metaphor: Imagine you were obsessed with Formula 1 (I find this very hard to imagine, but stay with me). For years and years you watch the cars go round and round the track, (in my case, secretly hoping that there’ll be a crash or two to make it actually worth watching). You intently study how it all works - the mechanics of the cars, the tactics of the drivers… After 3 years of this you can fully intellectualise F1 in intricate detail.

Then an opportunity arises.

A genie (an entity which is known to frequent vehicle-based sporting events) offers you the chance to race in the British Grand Prix. Wow!, you think. Of course you’ll do it! So you chisel away at your ribcage so you can fit into the tiny cockpit (is that the word?), squeeze your way in and get ready to go. Everything in the car is in order: The steering wheel is sort of round, there are dials on the dashboard and there's a cup-holder that can endure forces of upwards of 4G. You put your foot on the accelerator and BANG! You flatten the guy with the chequered flag.

It was his last day before retirement.

Having spewed that nonsense onto the page, I’m not sure that the metaphor is actually relevant at all. Oh well, my point is this: You can spend three years at university learning the how’s and why’s of something, but in those three years the people with any sense will actually be out there *doing* it. Okay, so I actually do have some writing experience, both paid and unpaid, but even with severe C.V tinkering, I am well below the ‘3 years of editorial experience’ that the decent writing jobs seem to require.

After more than a month of fruitless searching, I have decided to lower the bar. I am now pretty much looking for *anything* writing-related. My dream of a desk job at Mixmag or Empire has evaporated. With unemployment at such a ridiculous level and with that greasy, smarmy Etonian pulling the strings at 10 Downing Street, 2010 is not a year for wishful thinking. It is a year for reluctant doing.

With that in mind, I have decided to start offering to amend the grammatical errors displayed in shop windows for a small fee.

So if you see any adverts for ‘fish and chip’s’ on your travels, do let me know.