Saturday, 31 March 2012


So, I have certainly become one of the long term unemployed (perhaps not as a statistic yet as I only signed on last month), this is not an ideal situation. Now before we worry that this is in some way a pity parade Stop, fear not, for I want to explain something simple and yet complex.

On Tuesday I applied for a job on-line, something I didn't really want to do but felt I could get it and so went for it. Wednesday night I got the call, no, not for an interview but instead to start the next day! Result right? Well here I go by explaining that this job is cleaning newly built buildings on building sites. This is an environment I had stated categorically I would never enter again, and yet off I went. I said yes, packed my bag, pulled my boots out of storage and made my lunch. With my alarm set I hit the hay and decided I would make it work somehow.

The next day saw me arrive early from the pick up point and watch as the other site cleaners arrived, A mish-mash of multinationals and unfriendly faces. I signed in expecting to be given some forms, a few bits of paper and a finish time. Nope. Nothing. I stood and waited and then was approached by a guy that said I was 'with him' that day.I followed him like a sheep to the car and we set off, a young Latvian girl driving. Informed that we were off to Horsham and then Chelmsford I began to understand what I was in for.

We sat and she drove and they bitched about how shit it was to do this job and they were friendly enough to me but it was almost taken as read that I would not be around for long. Was this a value judgement on me or the job? Still unclear on that one really. The jury's out.

We arrived in Horsham and hit the house we needed to clean. I've worked on sites for the last four years or more and I know what to do, what to clean, what to move, what to say and how to act. The work was easy, we did it fast and got out. Two hours in and out. That's pretty good. So its not the work that's the problem.

Back on the road and off to Chelmsford and the M25 hammered us, we got stuck for an hour and a half and still continued on to our destination arriving at 2ish. We got a house to do straight away and again got right to it and without boring you we got the job done, but oh, what time did we leave? Five o clock. So our trip back fired us back into town and home for seven thirty. Out from five thirty AM till seven thirty PM.

I didn't see Dot at all. The elder kids went to bed thirty minutes after I got back. We got a half hour together. That's it.

I texted the contact man and asked when I was to sign things and get an idea on wage per week and he texted back in broken English saying I had to work Friday and then meet the boss afterwards and that he agreed different money with every single person he worked with. I texted back and said okay. I didn't want to walk away from money I should be earning. I didn't want to admit defeat and yet knew I couldn't work and sacrifice the time with my wife and children. I can work full time but not all week, never seeing the little ones at all, then be expected to work Saturdays? No.

I arrived the next morning and same again. Off to Chelmsford. We hit there by nine, stayed all day and though all the talk was of leaving as soon as possible my two co workers slowed right down come two o clock. The urge to return before six was gone for them. Why? What could have turned their heads and made them resistant to arriving at a reasonable time? I'm thinking because that's not what they are expected to do. They are expected to work twelve hours so the need to get back was defeated by their fear of the 'boss.'

We set off home at four forty, got caught in traffic and finally arrived back in town at seven thirty again. Hum.

I didn't go to the office and see this man, I didn't say 'see you monday', I got out, thanked them and headed home (they dropped me off on the way to the office). I walked briskly home and got back to spend twenty minutes with Dot before she went to bed. I was overjoyed to see them and felt robbed of my day, of the reason I live and knew I couldn't do the ridiculous hours they wanted me to.

My phone buzzed and I looked at the text; a demand for me to work Saturday. I said no. I also said I wasn't working again until I saw the boss and got an idea of money. What I'm actually looking to do is simple; I want my money from the two days of work I did. I don't want this job, not because its hard but because it goes against my way of life completely. Want me to work a hard job with long hours? Sure. Want me to work a job which comes between me and my family? Forget it!

So I don't want you to think I'm lazy, unrealistic or weak. I don't want to be handed something on a platter. I just want you to understand; the things that are important to me are too important to sacrifice. I will work, find several part time jobs or a permanent position that fits and gets us the cash to stand alone. I will develop my writing and study so that I can get a better job in the future. I will try and make this work every and any way I can, but its important that you understand that nothing is more important to me than my family. Nothing ever will be.

This job is mine for the taking, or more accurately, if I took this job I would be being taken for a ride by it. I'm not doing it. I'll find another way. 

I'm one of the long term unemployed but I'm not beaten. I know there's work out there that's for me and that as important as it is to find it I also need to make sure its the RIGHT sort of work. To sacrifice my family life is simply not an option... It never has been and it never will be.

I apologise if I'm going to be on Job Seekers for a little bit longer but some things are more important than money.

(As a side note the wage they offer is apparently in the region of £225 a week, that's for over fifty hours work. Now I'm no maths genius but I think its highly illegal to employ people and offer below minimum wage. That's why I'm shopping this nasty arsehole to the job centre come Monday.) 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


So I was booked in for a day of writing and expression and attempting to put something down on screen that didn't reek like last weeks training socks, but no. I looked to the day and rolled out of bed slightly late. A question arose in the air about jobs and employment and money and being skint and so I find myself on the bed seeking ways to earn money and actively not express anything other than a need for filthy lucre.

I've applied for jobs but the web page has expired in a fit of self driven stupidity played out by the lack of ability for it to do anything other than ask you what type of position you're looking for...and its not even wearing a wig and period dress to ram home how stupid a fuck up this is on an official gov site.

I'm about to try and do the 'writing thing' again but to be honest I'm knocked into a funk again. What's the point? I can reveal I've handed out my last project to four different people. One read it quickly and helped me edit, one worked his way through it over time and gave me useful feedback and the other two simply haven't bothered or have and feel its so shit they don't even want to have that conversation.

I pointed out last week that I'm not Joyce or Wordsworth, that's a given, but really? Not even read it?! Come on?!

I'm going to write today (no this doesn't really count to anything other than a word count and a cathartic explosion of disappointment) and I'm going to try, but realistically, if the people on your side can't be arsed then what fucking chance have you got against the haters?!

It would be better just to shoot me now.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


So we have many things happening in the world which are upsetting. Cruel, ridiculous, unfair and down right evil things. So many in fact that it makes you wonder how the hell we got this far as a race... and yet tonight my rage is not aimed at men who club pensioners with harsh budgets or idiots that plummet their country into colossal debt and then blame the next government Tonight I ask you why the fuck would anyone want to molest the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? WHY?!

Its trivial and sad and just not really worth a moan when placed next to the real worries of the world but this week Michael Bay announced he was adapting the Turtles, making a new movie, due out December 2013, and that the Turtles were now going to be... Aliens.

I want you to breathe that in.

That's right. No, go back and re-read, its okay, I was fighting with the logic of it too.

Are you ready to continue? Cool.

So what the hell is the problem right? It's a comic, a story, a t.v series several times over and has made more money than perhaps it ever really deserved too. Don't get me wrong, I love The Turtles, but seriously?! Come on! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?! A global phenomenon?! Fuck off!

We know the story, we know the characters and we know the deal... a new version takes a certain perspective shift to make sure its not like the old and so if he wants to take the brand and re-jig it then why the hell shouldn't he?! Well, I would say because its lazy. 

Presumably Mr Bay has the swing and the sway to get projects he wants to do off the ground, he's a huge movie director right? A king of the modern, dumb, summer effects fests! He doesn't need to have an established fan base for his story...So why the fuck take something with a massive fan base and screw with it? Why not just rock up and say 'Hi, I'm Michael Bay and I want to make this huge movie about a group of warriors that fight crime...and they are from outer space!'? Surely if they do their own thing then they can get a whole different visual style rolling and make it as expensive and stupid as usual without dumping on something people already like? Surely it doesn't work to piss off the target audience with the first press release?!

Now its not that its The Turtles (No I'm not typing their fucking names every single time I mention them so give up on it 'cause it ain't happening), its that this is something that doesn't need to happen. Bay can get some FX guys in a room, get some writers to put some shit together and then make a kickass film that's low on... well, everything other than effects... and huge on effects! He doesn't need to do this crazy Donatello bumming thing! 

So a plea, a request... a suggestion... for the greater movie making world out there; if you don't have faith in your product enough to see it all the way then don't try to high jack another story and a pre-existing fan base to bolt it too. Its just crap, unimaginative and cowardly. Have faith in what you do and don't coast.

Peace out. 

Be excellent to each other. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


I'm sending my writing off to agents and so far I've been given the happy nod from the self publishing arseholes that want me to pay (not what I was looking for) and the scowl of disapproval from the real agents that could be helpful (I say could be because I have no experience to say that they certainly would be). With the first rejection letters I felt okay, like it was a right of passage, but now that feeling has changed. I check my email and when I see a rejection I can almost hear the sound of hammer on nail head, driving that spike of hate deep into the cheap wood of my literary coffin.
Should I stand and watch as they hammer more and more nails in and then lower me down into that hole? Listen as they start tossing spadeful upon spadeful of wet earth down onto its wooden roof and here that bang of inevitability as with each load I am forced to accept the brutal reality of life? The simple truth that I'm just  not good enough, not exciting enough or even more realistically that I'm simply not hard working enough?
If I fight on and keep taping away and chasing this dream when do I finally look up and know that I'm beat? Will it be a month down the road or ten months? Will I die knowing I could have done it if I'd just stuck at it or will I die knowing I should have accepted my weaknesses and just got on with life instead of wasting time trying to catch something that was always out of reach?
Right now I feel like quiting. Turning it in. Old Yella' has a rope around his neck and he's being led to the back of the barn because he simply can't see anymore, the farmer has his gun and it is only going to take one barrel, but he's loaded both.
I can write for my own amusement, put my stuff up on line, fill my blog and have a respectable time without any pressure or possible achievement clad in the fancy clothes of finance. Its something I will probably end up doing.
I think I look and see my failings, can see that I'm no Wordsworth or Joyce, struggling against the world, armed with prose, punctuation and the inevitability of my own success. I'm not the man I wished I was. I'm not even the man I hoped I was.
I won't give up yet. I still have some energy in the old pulse rifle and a steady aim. I can see the enemy approaching and I can knock a few down before apathy and defeat take this battered fortress, pillage the dream with its stark and powerful armies of reality and finally I find I must submit myself to the average. The mundane.
I'm sending off, I'm continuing to type, to craft and to try but my eye now wanders. It sees what must be the alternative, a job that I can rise through the ranks in. Be it in a shop or in an office or sweeping roads. Reality  hits and i'm rocked. My legs have wobbled and everyone in the arena knows the score now. This bum goes down in the next couple of rounds.
I was never a real contender.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


So it was Mother's Day today, a day when we (people who are not mothers) are meant to put great effort into helping, supporting and in fact making sure that the women in our lives get some rest and it strikes me as odd, odd and slightly disturbing that we need a special day to make people think and act like we actually give a shit.
What is this? Why is this day even necessary? Surely we should treat everyone well , especially the women in our lives, every day. We do don't we? Don't we? Well, the answer must clearly be no.
So we have days to remind ourselves that others need reminding of how important and awesome they are. Perhaps it says something crazy about us as a modern collective that we have to put a day aside officially to actuate this but its a good crazy, mainly because it shows we still want to be nice to the people that share our lives. That the old 'Mothering Sunday'; traditionally the day we went back to the place we were baptised, has metamorphosized over the years into a day of celebration and thanks for the love mothers give is a good sign. It shows we still want to try.
Now its great for those women that get the attention, gifts and thanks that they deserve but what about the people in the abusive relationships, the single mothers or those that have lost their children? I can't imagine what this day means to them. Another day that shows the world's increasing cruelty? Another day to feel more intensely alone or up against the world? I can imagine it would be hard but how hard I have no idea.
With each day that celebrates someone there will be others that are painfully forgotten. For each spouse that gets up, delivers breakfast with a kiss and sweeps the kids downstairs for some quiet entertainment there are some that don't give a shit, some that abuse their spouses or even mothers, some that see it as a day to remind someone of how powerless they have made them. This saddens me.
I don't know the answers to any big questions like how to deal with people that abuse their partners (male and female), I couldn't give you the magic key to unlock the mystery of why some treat others terribly. There are reasons, studied and documented and known, but there seems to be no 'fix' that can be implemented to drive the arseholes that need 'control' of another person into extinction. So what to do?
Treat people well regardless of what day it is. Monday to Sunday, be as supportive, kind and understanding as possible. Compromise and protect that which is important while still making sure you're not a doormat. It's not an easy mandate, it's not even a fun one some of the time, but I think it's the one that we need to follow. Be as good as we can be and then on the special days focus that effort into a day not of gifts and expense but of care.
These special days should stay, certainly, but they shouldn't be an excuse to not be as nice as we could be normally. That's my take on it. Celebrate everyday if you can and sometimes, sometimes, a day will come up that reminds us that we need to pull our socks up a bit, or just reminds us why we should put the effort in all the time if we can.
These days are important, of that there is no doubt, but they do not replace the attention of the year that surrounds them. They don't make up for 363 days of bullshit, so I suppose what I'm saying is that I believe in Mother's Day and Father's Day and Easter and the Birthdays but I believe that it's the days in between the 'big ones' that make the real difference and it should be those days to which we turn our attention.

Monday, 12 March 2012


I'm taking a self imposed Twitter break, its a short story but I'm not telling you, I can be coy if I like, it's my Blog. Now this time has given me a view to do other things when I would normally be staring at a small screen and shooting the textual breeze with my tweeps, things like reading and writing and cookie making and well, other stuff.
Over the last two days I've been digging into Time magazine which has a feature on the ten ideas that will change our lives, it was riveting. What could I do but dive into the future concepts that some clever people claim will revolutionise our way of life and alter our perspectives forever? I read with enthusiasm about 'Black irony' and 'Cloud memory', and wondered at the the many ideas that could push us into the future like the normalisation of singular living and then I got stuck. Oh dear. Now what? What did my brain do that stopped my championing of new learning? It was the idea of niche ageing.
Now don't get me wrong, the idea of retiring in a community of like minded people was quite appealing and I read with interest until I slammed into a script idea, focusing on such a living arrangement. The laughs I'm sure would be endless but then I stumbled and realised I wasn't laughing with the old people...but at them. How shallow.
Why could my brain not formulate a place where I could see this working for me? Why could I not take this concept seriously?! It took me some time to cut through the crap and the defences, dodge the defender and head for goal and there I stood in front of it and I felt very uneasy. Very uneasy indeed.
You see I have no idea what life for me will be like at that point. No idea what condition I'll be in physically or mentally and even though I have a fairytale retirement in mind I have nothing in which to make it actually happen. No massive pension, no huge promotion or shares to balloon into a nest egg, there isn't a provision or a plan, just a fumbled want and a dream to not be impoverished and bitter.
I wanted to be someone important and I have succeeded; I am important to my wife and children, but is that enough? Should I find something that will make me important to all? Is that what writing is for me? The promise of a pay check and a place in a magazine about fabulously clever people? No.
No, I don't write because I just don't want to work, I write because I want too and dearly wish that I was good enough to be paid for the privilege. I want to entertain and provoke others to think about what I'm thinking about and maybe have them say to themselves 'I disagree with him' OR 'I agree with him and will read another one.'
I don't know what my future has in store for me, I cannot say. I hope it will be sprinkled with enough success to keep me and those I love when we reach an age considered to be old. I hope I find that spark of wonder in someone that tells them that enough people would like what I write and I hope that it happens sooner rather than later.
In the end I know hard work and never giving up may get me somewhere, wherever it may be. I will need to make sure that what I continue to do is write what I like, what I find interesting and what I feel is important or entertaining. In short, I have no plan and no map, just a far off mountain and maybe just enough energy to get me up the damn thing.
Hope and a prayer sends me into the unknown.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Today we sat around our much loved but badly beaten kitchen table and asked the question 'What shall we do today?' The first suggestion was to visit the local Zoo gifted us by Petal (4 years old, obsessed with pink, cats and Ballet), it was an idea we ran with and within the hour we were in the car and ready to go.
Now normally there is a juggling act in place, there are eight of us and we have a seven seater, so I normally stay home, but today the teenager was left to fend for himself (which meant completing the minor tasks left behind for him to do and then settling in in front of the Playstation 3, he's 15 what can you expect him to do with his time right?). Sitting in the car I felt quite excited, I was going on a trip! Me! Woo hoo!
The sun shone and the roads were blessedly clear as we flew down the English south coast roads I was feeling pretty good and we arrived without incident at all. Lovely.
Out and into the Zoo, we are members so it doesn't cost an arm and a leg (thank you to my lovely Mother In Law for paying for that) and after getting my card all sorted we entered. Five kids between 2 and 11, me and the my lovely wife, animals and sunshine. Bliss. Then the clouds gathered.
The sun went in for the day but it didn't really matter, we had a lovely time, the zoo was busy, not a problem. In all it was awesome... but isn't there always a fly in the ointment?!
Coming through the crowd came an arsehole, one I knew, one I really detest. Could I avoid? Should I ignore? Turn my back and just wait for it to pass? No. No, I did what any good polite person did. I was polite. I shock his hand, I asked him how he was and I wished him well. Good.
Now this person needs some loose going into, only a little, but enough. I worked for him on a building site and worked incredibly hard. I arrived when the project was having problems with Labour, specifically the labourers. They were lazy, shoddy, unfocused stonners that should have been fired on their first day and it still stuns me that they were there a full twelve months before I arrived.
In short I worked hard and quickly managed to get a trusted mate on the site with me. We worked very hard and got them back on course. It took alot of energy, a massive amount of determination and a willingness to continue through injury.
We pulled tonnes of rubble from the blocks that were behind time, we filled a thousand skips, we pushed it and both gained alot of muscle in a short space of time. It was hard core ladies and gentlemen. This guy was one of the agents and treated us like crap. He moaned, never congratulated, pushed without ever conceding that we had transformed his site and had made him look good for the first time since the site opened. Not a boast, simply a fact.
In time we came to be the only labourers on site and were expected to drive a site on that should have had at least five lads doing the slog. We did it though, so you can imagine he was an arsehole but here comes the kicker. Midweek a boss came down and walked past me, he made the decision that the site needed to save money so told this agent to sack me. On the spot. He did. I left that day and returned the next week for the painters and did two weeks for them.
Months later my mate (who they worked like a dog without ever thanking him or cutting him any slack) damaged his knee. The doctor told him two weeks of rest were the minimum. This guy and his partner in crime had him back the next week. He shouldn't have worked but they phoned him everyday and told him clearly he didn't have grace when it came to time, so he went back to find the guy hadn't even put the accident in the book. The levels this guy would sink to were beyond belief.
In the end the site ended and my mate came away okay, we got a small amount of cash from the site and it was steady for a while but this guy was scum of the worst managerial kind.
I perhaps, facing this man, could have told him what I thought of him but he wouldn't have cared. I could have ignored him but he wouldn't have cared. In the end I did what would bring the best result for ME and so chose to be the better man. This brought me far more peace and contentment, knowing what a prick he was I simply let it go.
We walked the zoo and had a great time and played in the awesome playground and I bumped into him several more times but he wouldn't look me in the eye. In the playground he left the area completely. Now was that my fierce presence that poured aggression out towards him? No. I take it as an admittance of guilt.
If my being polite in the face of his idiocy and incompetence brings the next guy that works under this man some grace then every word spent with him was worth it.
I learnt today that my attitude towards politeness and respect are valid. That hard work is recognised, even if not always rewarded and that I can be the better man and be happy about it.
Saying all that I would happily have drowned him in the flamingo pond. :-)
Welcome! You have arrived and so the party can finally start! Excellent.
Now there are many Blogs out there and many specialise in books or films, babies or technology, this Blog is not a genre specific event and will wander as I wander, inform if I become informed and enthuse or bitch as I feel the need to vent.
I hope for the this place to be positive, amusing and optimistic view into my world , as I see it, when it changes and folds around me. I hope you read and enjoy and find yourself coming back. That would be grand.
Shall we begin? Excellent, lets.