Jumping Ship

24 Apr

I feel obliged to create a blogging equivalent of a flashing diversion sign. I’ve moved home.

After six months of silence (except for all the time I kept saying ‘I really need to start writing again’) I’ve set up a new place to chat called Lucy Writes Stuff. Don’t worry, there will probably still be plenty of useless nonsense to feast upon- it’s just… well, at twenty-six years old I’m kinda milking this ‘graduate’ thing a bit. Still very much wayward though. No change there.

I apparently still get a fair few views on this. Probably cos of the SEO value of internet dating freaks. Ahh, we’ve had some good times.


Wayward Graduate, over and out.


The Bar Etiquette Bible: The Last Will and Testament of a Retiring Barkeep

23 Jul


Just over four years after graduating, I have finally got a (sort of) job. Well, yes, it’s another internship. But in a baffling turn of events, I’m actually getting paid this time. This means that once more I’m hanging up my pinny and leaving the pub game- and who knows, this time it might be for good.

Having started working in a bar at Manchester in 2007, I have come to learn a lot. It’s a trade that can be really good fun and very satisfying, but also wretchedly stressful and bloody hard work. It teaches you how to talk to people, multi-task and keep calm under pressure… but it also gives you an insight into the worst habits and rotten core of human nature itself. A bit dramatic? Try dealing with a pack of lecherous, middle-aged men in the twelfth hour of their drinking session.

So it is now that I feel I should offer the following twenty rules to make the world a better place for barpersons and patrons alike. Anyone who has ever worked in a bar, please know that you are not alone. And anyone who ever frequents a bar, please take these points on board. They might save your life one day. Okay, that actually was a bit dramatic.

1) You know, as a barkeep, having to offer an assortment of options for each drink is just as knackering for us as it is for you. However, some useful advice to keep close to hand is that ‘normal’ is neither a classification of size, taste or indeed, brand of beverage.  If we’re to take such a guideline literally, I suppose we should be grateful for the amount of faith you put into us and our perceptions.  I regularly talk in cat-speak and bite my toenails.

2) The phrase ‘when you’re ready’ is poison to a barkeep’s ears. If we were ready, we’d be serving you already, you utter berk.  By abstaining from this bolshy practice you are in fact retaining your deserved position in your server’s mental queue. If you choose to indulge in it, we can only wish you the best of luck.

3) Coming to a bar whilst mid-conversation on your mobile and still expecting to be served is as good as holding out your hand and saying ‘Hi, I’m an Ignorant Pr*ck, pleased to meet you.’ It’s one of the most infuriatingly rude of all customer crimes, suggesting that we’re not even worth giving your full attention to as you place your order. We are not a vending machine. To be fair, we probably don’t want to talk to you either- but unfortunately, it’s something that the conditions of our pay require us to do.

4) You may find it hard in your intoxicated state to remember the pocket-cripplingly long list of drinks in your round, but please, don’t think that means you have to dispense it to us in some kind of weird, alcoholic breadcrumb trail. One-at-a-time ordering draws out this affair much longer than necessary and will result in an impatient reception, often coupled with eye twitching. (Unless you spot a barperson with a pedometer, in which case they will probably be grateful of the seven mile journey of to-ing and fro-ing you send them on.)

5) Waving notes around or unfurling wads of cash for attention usually only proves effective in strip joints, and should be abandoned when awaiting service in any other pub or bar. You will be instantly branded as a flash kn*bhead and 99% of witnesses of such practice will secretly hope that a pickpocket targets you.

6) No, it is not okay for you to place your order, leave your money and nip to the toilet. I can’t actually think of any other place where this may be considered acceptable mid-service. If you went to a bank you wouldn’t turn to the cashier and say ‘I’m just going for a wee whilst you count that out’ or announce to a Vicar that you’re off to empty your bowels whilst he breaks the bread.

7) Whilst we’re on the topic, it’s probably around now that you should know that dumping money onto the bar top when paying for drinks is just not cool.  If we have a hand outstretched awaiting payment, that’s where the money goes. Not in the puddle of ale you’ve created as you snatched and spilt your pint. If you still insist on doing this you should hope that you’re not owed any change. Coins can hurt when thrown.

8) Just because you know a barperson’s name, it doesn’t automatically entitle you to a bespoke customer service experience. Shouting their name loudly over a busy crowd of thirsty punters isn’t going to bump you up the queue. If anything it’s going to make you look like a bigger tw*t when you’re publicly snubbed by someone who clearly doesn’t want to know. Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not the only one we talk to. It’s not you, it’s us. Does that help? No? Well, get over it. We’re busy.

9) No matter what, always remember your P’s and motherf*cking Q’s. Your cash may buy you a few short minutes of our attention and service, but that does not elevate you to some kind of slave-master role and exempt you from treating us like real human people. I have been known to deny an overheated and profusely sweating youth of his abrupt demand of ‘WATER’ at a teenie-mosher gig until he had realised and rectified his omission of a simple ‘please’. It felt like a motherly scolding but my God, it was worth it.

10) If it’s late, the bar staff are cleaning things and we politely tell you that we’re closed, ‘you’re joking’ is not the best response to give. Not only are we probably tired and desperate for release, you should respect that we could probably fabricate some better gags for our stand-up routine. No, we’re not joking. Clearly. That’d be even less funny than that ‘knock knock’ joke about bananas and oranges, which I still don’t really get to this day.

11) Another thing to bear in mind whilst we’re discussing closing time is that we’re not in the mood to wait for you while you carry on your conversation and slowly finish your drink. Having to be asked more than three times to drink up and responding with an off-hand ‘yeah, yeah’ will get you struck from any barkeep’s Christmas card list. If you’re about to make a comment about us being abrupt or rude, well, we are truly most frightfully sorry. You’re right, it’s not your fault we’ve been sober and on our feet for eight hours whilst you slowly get wrecked… but would you mind most terribly if you jog onwards now, kind sir?

12) In most retail roles, that age-old golden rule of ‘the customer’s always right’ is true… but not here. The bar staff are always right. Please hold back from telling us how to do our job. We won’t come into your office and tell you that your filing system leaves much to be desired if you can accept that we know how much head there is supposed to be on your pint. Deal? Good.

13) It may come as a surprise, but your average member of bar staff exercises absolutely no control over the cost of the drinks they sell, so please don’t get arsey with them about the price. Angrily exclaiming ‘how much?!’ whilst sifting through a handful of coins with indignation isn’t going to help anyone. Believe us, we’d much rather that it was a boozy free-for-all too, but that would mean that we ourselves would be collapsed behind the bar in a drunken coma and there would be nobody left to serve you. Swings and roundabouts.

14) Abbreviations. Southern Comfort may have tried to get down with the kids by actively encouraging requests for ‘SoCo’, but it’s the equivalent of a middle aged try-hard reversing a baseball cap and sitting down on a backwards chair thinking they’re Snoop Dogg. Requests of ‘OJ’ or a ‘pint of numbers’ are habits that jar against the grain of my heart, soul and very skin like a blunt, rusting knife. Just talk like a ‘normal’ person, please.

15) Do you think shredding beermats, tearing up menus or peeling bottle labels before scattering them like confetti all over the floor makes our job more fun, or less fun? If you think the latter, well done and have a gold star. The former? You’re a d*ck. Please drink at home.

16) Also, just so you know, when your mate hurls his guts all over the floor/table/upholstery, this does not make them a ‘legend’. If you think it does, we’re going to come and find you when you are exhausted after a long day of work armed with a bucket of warm sick for you to deal with, with only a mop and some paper roll as your permitted tools. Gloves? Ha, no.

17) If you come to a busy bar and wait for ten minutes, we assume that by the time it’s your turn, you know what you want. When we say, ‘what can I get you?’ please don’t stare back, open-mouthed like we’ve asked you to work out the square root of 48,642. Sadly, most companies can’t afford telepathy training so you’re going to have to decide. We also heard you grumbling to your friend about how long it was taking to get served, so please don’t do this now. It’s not that hard. Promise.

18) Dealing with so many members of public, you soon discover some strange, widespread habits. The one that seems to stand out is the inclusion of the word ‘just’ before placing an order. There have been many attempts of working it out, but why do so many ask for ‘just a Carling, please’ or ‘just a large white wine and some peanuts, thanks’? Is it because they want to let us know they’re sorry to bother us? It’s okay, we don’t mind. Are they trying to sound flippant and casual? We don’t really care. Is it because they didn’t want us to think they were going to be ordering a hundred items? I’m sure we would have realised that as you said more things. It’s an odd one.

19) Underage drinkers: yes, we’ve been there. Yes, it’s a bit rubbish. But unfortunately, giving your soft, young innards toxic booze makes us bad people that get fined a whole lot of money. Frankly, the outcome of your night out doesn’t mean that much to us.  So please don’t:

a) Tell us that we’re out of order

b) Say that you really are over eighteen, promise!

c) Attempt ‘go on, just one’. Did you not hear what we just said?

d) Pat your pockets down and sadly report that you left your ID at home. That has never worked. Ever.

20) And finally, we really do welcome your gratitude in the form of taking a drink or a tip. We honestly do appreciate it, and can be the best tonic for a terrible night (quite literally for lovers of gin.) However, please do remember this. Just because you bought us a drink does not mean that we owe you anything. We thought it was because you were being nice, not because you thought it worked like some kind of fast-track system. If you do think that, please up the rate of bribery, because we’re not cheap, beer-pouring hussies.

N.B.  Leaving the five pence of your change does not, repeat, not constitute a thoughtful tip. So please don’t swan away from the bar on a cloud of your own sense of generosity like you’re Bob Geldof.

You’ve Got to Procrastinate to Accumulate

11 Jan

Christopher Parker: A modern day Socrates

A great actor once said, ‘procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill’. Well, I say great actor. It was apparently the chap who played Spencer Moon off Eastenders. Christopher Parker, his name was. The reason I know this? Because I just Googled him. I can also now tell you that he also won a ‘TRIC Award’ in 2005 and fronted a show on Gala Bingo’s TV channel a couple of years ago. I have plenty more important things to be doing with my time. It’s as if I haven’t listened to a word the man has said; for I am like a veritable infinity mirror of procrastination.


It’s a condition that affects many creatives, much like black lung has marred the profession of miners through the generations. Often, it’s not that you don’t want to get on with something. It’s just that your brain is as co-operative as a Jack Russell pup that has just spotted a flock of pigeons in the park. The idea that was once fizzing fresh in your mind like a new morn’s Berocca soon sinks to the sludge-filled bottom of your cloudy mind-lake alongside the corpses of book ideas and inventions to take to Dragon’s Den. It’s a atrocity that should not go unpunished.


So, who are the deplorable villains of this serial crime? Taking the obvious, such as furniture rearranging, sandwich making and wondering what it would like to be a cat out the equation- there are the big three. Facebook. Youtube. Wikipedia. They need hauling up into the dock and have a thousand sentences rain down upon their unforgiving cyber souls in penitence for all of those precious hours snatched from our grasp. Each of these dastardly characters possess qualities that surmount to an ultimate and irresistible power, much like the Deathly Hallows that Voldemort was after.


Facebook. The infinite source of social gossip and outlets for nosiness. We’ve all ended up scouting the profile of our work colleague’s younger brother’s best friend’s cousin. Right? Youtube. A twisted labyrinth to make Bowie’s Goblin King cower in terror. It will never let you go. It will never stop suggesting you should take a look at that man popping a blister. Wikipedia. The relentless pull of the factoid. Just when you think you’ve finished an article about the Rhodesian Security Forces there will be just one more of those little blue links to coax you down another back alley of useless knowledge.


The problem is, these evil forces aren’t going anywhere… and deep down we don’t really want them to. Perhaps one day, they will prove a force for good. Perhaps to a young writer who left her application for a Columnist job far too late and panicked about a topic last minute. (Erm, yeah. This is what this blog post was originally written for.) Who knows? Until then, beware of falling foul of these bewitching booby-traps, or you are doomed to creative vegetation; with only with the world’s funniest woodland creatures video to comfort you.

2012, The Apocalypse and Me

3 Jan

The Four Horsemen. They look well metal. Rawr.

As the fireworks crackled across London’s smoked filled skies, I took a sip of my Champers and desperately searched for the words to Auld Lang Syne in my fuzzy head. The annual frivolity of exploding millions of the tax payer’s pounds looked as spectacular as ever when the London Eye transformed into a Catherine Wheel that made us feel Lilliputian.

Of course, I was just watching on telly. It’s far too much hassle to actually go and witness the display live. Besides, since childhood I’ve found that the anticipation of a firework’s bang has always caused me to literally blink and miss it. ‘Happy new year!’ I turned and slurred to a friend; accompanied with that smile we do when we get excited about it turning midnight that one day a year. Perhaps the antithesis of how Cinderella felt.

‘Yes, happy new year! Well, it should be a good one until December 21st at least.’

I scrunched up my less-than pristinely made up face in confusion as I questioned why.

‘What, Max’s birthday?’ I enquired with a figurative scratch to my head. If Facebook has been good for anything it’s been for remembering when to send warm Hallmark-worthy wishes to my dearest friends. Well, that or an ‘HB xxx’. I was well aware that Max could be a bit of a dick, but was there any need to bring in the new year scorning the thought of him reaching another anniversary of his birth?

‘Who’s Max?’ I had forgotten I had only just met this ‘friend’ tonight and that it was unlikely he would know a boy that I had met when I was fifteen. What can I say, I’m not a Champagne drinker for good reason. ‘No, it’s the end of the world this year isn’t it. You know, that Mayan thing. There was that terrible film with John Cusack in it. 21st December 2012. The apocalypse.’

‘Poor Max. I mean, oh yeah. I remember.’

I had totally forgotten until this moment that we are indeed ‘apparently’ entering the final year of our existence. 2012 has been the date destined for disaster for centuries- not just since the announcement of London’s Olympic bid win, despite what so many of us think. According to the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, we will be experiencing the end of the 13th b’ak’tun which will herald cataclysmic change for the world as we know it. Yes, it does seem somewhat unfair for our doom to be finalised by something so unreasonably challenging to even understand. Sort of reminds me of how I felt as I stared at the second paper of my Maths GCSE exams with tumble-weed eyes and a pen gnawed down to it’s nib. I also got ‘Do The Conga’ stuck on repeat on my internal jukebox that afternoon, but suffice to say that wouldn’t be on my ‘Doomsday’ themed Spotify playlist.

So, it’s the end of the world, and it was always going to be. Those cheeky Mayans went and pre-dated our demise like a cheque we never wanted to cash. As we all try to escape on a private plane to track down Woody Harrelson on a dusty American hillside (this may be exclusively part of the adaptation according to that terrible film with John Cusack in it) we can all say, ‘ah, well. Wasn’t much we could do really.’ Well actually, there probably was.

Should the world indeed blow up on December 21st 2012, the last thing that will be Mother Nature’s lips will be ‘serves you right.’. Let’s face it, we’ve not done a very good job of looking after our planet. Essentially, what we’ve done is the equivalent of house-sitting a beautiful mansion, only to cake mud into the carpets, set fire to the curtains, smash up priceless treasures and leave a poo in the bidet. Our once stunning home is gradually falling to pieces as we continue to burn up it’s resources, tear down it’s rainforests, and generally treat nature like a playground bully would. With the rapid speed of the Western world’s development and endless consumption, we’ve spawned Veruca Salt generations of always wanting more- whatever the cost. While we may not all be fat cats of large factories flowing waste into the oceans or CEO’s of global brands knackering the trees, we do all leave our own dirty little carbon footprints on the carpet.

Cheap food, cheap living, fast travel, fast fixes- they all come at a price for our poor world. There’s a lot to be sorry for I’m afraid, and our selfish actions and avaricious lifestyles have left Earth gasping for breath like an obese cross-country runner. It brings to mind an old folk tale that’s been in my family for generations. It’s about a notoriously hoggish man who finds a cave full of food that is absolutely huge. As he explores, he stuffs his face until he meets a giant who forces him to eat all of the food to point of literally bursting. The giant only agrees to let him go when he’s promised to never be so indulgent and gluttonous again. Mr. Greedy humbly agrees and then goes back to all the other Mr. Men and sheds a few pounds. It’s pretty resonant stuff that we should all learn from- something that perhaps reflects what the Mayans were trying to tell us should we wake up in one piece on December 22nd.

As we take our first few tentative steps into this new year, I do so with a number of hopes. I hope the Mayans were wrong, that we don’t blow up and die. It sounds rubbish. I also hope Max gets to enjoy his birthday. But most of all, I hope that perhaps we all, like Mr. Greedy, can take a look at the damaging effect we are having on ourselves with our excessive consumption and selfish actions.

Maybe then we can relax a bit and look forward to drinking Champagne in 2013. Happy new year.

Merry Christmases and Round Robins

31 Dec

I suppose I should say it. Happy new year!


Ever since I was little, the days between Christmas and New Year have filled me with great impatience. Let’s face it, it’s a cheerless no-man’s land where we all complain about how rotund we’re feeling as our belt buckles snap and we gaze upon the futile twinkles of our presentless Christmas trees. There’s no more meat left for sandwiches and the return to reality that January heralds is creeping up behind you like a crap pantomime villain. It’s New Year’s Eve though… hooray! And we will all groan at the prospect of having to drink yet more alcohol, spend more money, and potentially have to shell out on an alternative outfit to accommodate for our new flabbier frames.


There is something about this time of year that makes us all go terribly existential. How many of us have already used some of our energy to consider what punishments (sorry, resolutions) we’re going to enforce upon our 2012 selves as soon as we switch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang off on New Year’s Day? Smokers, I know there will be a lot of you that have been seriously debating your relationship with your cigarettes. Unfit folk, I know you will have started to notice how knackered you feel after one flight of stairs with two medium sized bags of shopping. I am also considering opening a sweepstake on how many ‘Bring on 2012… It’s gonna be my year!!’ Facebook statuses will be flooding the old news feed. Come on, there’s enough year for everyone. Chill out, yeah?


If we’re not looking forward just yet, we’re certainly looking back. Reflection is a brilliant thing. Not only can it be a method to see if you’ve got something drawn on your face after passing out, it can also be in that figurative sense in which we can learn stuff and things. It can be an adventurous jaunt down memory lane in which we can revisit those highs, lows and ‘meh’ days. One traditional way in which these ponderings seem to find an outlet is through the ’round robin’.

Cute and cruel in equal measure.


It might sound like a bird that’s just put on a few pounds, but it’s quite often less comedic than that. Maybe they don’t plague everyone, but there seems to be an abundance of relatives and friends of my family that like to include a small essay in their Christmas cards detailing what they’ve done in the past year. Why they might assume others might want to read what they have to say is often a mystery (erm… yeah, blogging is different, right?) There have been letters which have made me want to whip out a red biro, correct the spelling mistakes with an ‘SP’ in the margin before posting it back to them. There are the ones that leave me reassessing my own subsistence through my lack of holidaying and employment successes. Yeah, Happy Christmas, fuckers.


My absolute favourite this year came courtesy of a distant cousin of my Mum’s whose existence I wasn’t fully aware of before. Not only was her round robin letter printed wrong- being double sided and losing it’s ending; it’s content was the verbal equivalent of tumbleweed. With a tone of one of those people who include too much unnecessary detail when recounting a tale, it was the persecution on a level of a maths class and holiday slideshow all in one. Within the eight or so paragraphs, she mentioned specifics of visiting around twelve different piers across the country. Each to their own and that, but… really?


So what have I done? I’ve left Manchester to get out working in a bar to find myself… working in a pub. I’ve worked four out of the last twelve months full time for free. I got asked out by mentalists on the train on two occasions. I went on dates with mentalists from the train on two occasions. I did a wee in my tent at Glastonbury. I helped drink a free Jager bar dry backstage at Hevy. I’ve started eating more cheese. I’ve giggled at the jokes of musicians I adore and admire like a massive girl. I dyed my hair pink. I dyed my hair orange. I’ve vowed to stop drinking at least three times. I’ve done a fair bit of fishing. I’ve made new friends. I’ve made new enemies. (I didn’t really make enemies… I don’t think.) I haven’t visited any piers.


It’s been a very fast year indeed and I hope it’s been a good one for all of you. For those of you going out tonight have a hideously good time. For those of you currently updating their Facebook with an ‘It’s gonna be my year!’ status, stop it. Now.


Plentyoffish Hall of Shame: The Experiment

27 Dec

It is safe to say that my single life has been constantly punctuated by instances of frustration and confusion. Like many girls I know gathering dust on the shelf, I’m quite inclined to think that I’m actually quite a catch. None of this ‘why, God, WHY??’ thanks very much. I know so many intelligent, ambitious, confident females that seem to struggle finding themselves a man. What’s going on?

Things sort of come to a head when you realise that you even struggle when signed up to an internet dating site like Plentyoffish. Sometimes I wonder how a girl like me is perceived on there. I know I’m not like a lot of other girls. My blindingly garish hair, tattoos, piercings and eccentric approach to life may be too much for some. When my list of interests includes amongst others, ‘leaves bigger than my own face’, ‘pickled onion Monster Munch’ and ‘moderate moshing’… I know I’m certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t even like tea.

There have been those moments when I wonder what’s going on that I turn to male friends and see if I can get that different point of view through testosterone-tinted glasses. One word that seems to crop up quite a lot is ‘intimidating’. It was a strange revelation for someone who spends much of her life imitating cats, marvelling at shiny things and crying at Disney films. But the more I thought about it, maybe that’s true for a lot of us confident girls. I may be soft as a play doh kitten, but perhaps my strength of character splattered across my dating profile can be off putting to the male species.

I decided to conduct an experiment.

I’m remembering what I learnt in Mr Unsworth’s science class to detail what this experiment entailed. Coincidentally, I actually quite fancied him.


I wish to put to the test the notion that opinionated girls with strong personalities ‘intimidate’ the male population. Furthermore, I want to see if ‘alternative’ looks and interests are less favoured than the ‘normal’. Basically, do I scare men off?


I think that by making an internet dating profile that makes me sound like a more ‘normal’ character with generic interests, thoughts and feelings, I will be more favoured amongst the male populace. I think that by sounding like less strong a character, more men will try and talk to me. I will try my best to not cry as I implement abbreviations and use the word ‘lol’.


  1. Create new profile. To make it a fair experiment, I have used pictures of myself, the test subject. I just happen to be a couple of years younger, a more natural hair colour and have had my tattoos edited out.

    Fake Me

    I never said I was any good at Photoshop. My poor bare boobies.

  2. I exaggerated the colour of my eyes and did some light editing as so many females feel inclined to do in profile pictures.


    I got a lot of 'are your eyes really that blue???' messages. I started to wish they were. I've fallen into the Photoshop trap. Wholesome though, right?

  3. I chose a suitably ‘dating profile’ standard user name and headline. I became ‘Sxigrrl’ who wanted to tell the world that ‘GiRlS jUsT wAnNa HaVe FuN!!!’
  4. In the main body of my profile, I told only the truth… but chose to project myself in a different way. I also threw in a selection of text-speak abbreviations and dating profile clichés for good measure:

‘I really don’t know what to put here but here goes…!!!!!!!!

I’m a bubbly, fun lovin girl… love life, love having a laugh with the girlies!
Erm… what else? I’m a propa girly girl realli, pink is my fave colour and I’m always out shoppin! My mates all say I’m a bit crazy and random but hey! I love nights out but also love nights in cuddled up on the sofa with that special sumone.

At the minute I’m a barmaid, it’s a right laugh. I’m not sure what I’m planning on doing in the future. What makes me unique…ermm….my DNA?? LOL I dunno!!

I like films, all sorts of music, TV and SHOES LOL

Anyways, I think that’s enough for now, wanna know anything else just ask 😉 ‘


The results were pretty incredible. In the first hour of it’s creation, ‘Sxigrrl’ got thirty-seven messages to my real profile’s two. This could be a trend that would continue throughout the experiment, with at least forty-plus messages with each log-in to Sxigrrl. Over Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Sxigrrl got one hundred and thirty-nine messages to real profile’s thirty-five.

In the two weeks of this experiment, my real profile got one hundred and seventy eight messages. I’m afraid I can’t tell you how many Sxigrrl got because they start to automatically delete messages when you’ve reached four hundred.


Sweet and simple is more appealing to mankind. It would seem that it is a sad truth that girls that have a lot to say for themselves can be a bit off putting. Why, though? Maybe men think they’re too much like hard work. Perhaps they think that here’s a girl who will talk the hind legs off a donkey. Of course, my profile may make me look mentally unhinged.

But there were other interesting things to be learnt. Sxigrrl, despite her name, got less crude messages than real me. Do tattooed, ‘alt’ girls get judged in a different light? Are we automatically a ‘bad girl’? Thanks a lot Bowling For Soup.

Despite this, I also learnt something which I took great pride in. Despite having a measly amount of messages than my uncomplicated alter-ego, the ones I did receive were infinitely more interesting. Sxigrrl’s neverending inbox may have had a queue of suitors waiting to grab her attention, but if she’d managed to gain much from the generic compliments and ‘Hi, how’s u’ messages I would be most surprised.

So, what I conclude is this. Be yourself. So what if the road is long and your options are scarce. What we can put faith in is that when we do find that person we click with, they’re going to like you for you. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

So long, Sxigrrl. Okay, I might still be you for a bit longer… I grew to like the fan mail. There’s still 107 unread messages to get through.

(Published at Lovescene Magazine)

The Future is Bleak: Career Guidance with Chris Grayling

28 Oct

True to this blog, three years on from becoming a graduate I am still struggling. At twenty five years old, I am very much part of the statistics that have been dominating the news for most of 2011. The youth employment rate is at it’s lowest for twenty years we are told. You can give us as many bar graphs and interactive graphics as you like, but none of this is particularly comforting as you settle down for another day of trawling the internet for the faintest glimmer of hope for your future. I just popped ‘faint glimmer of hope for the future’ into Google. Nada.

I have been ticking all the correct boxes in my attempt to make a career of writing, building a portfolio and taking on internships- but certain frustrations have begun to come to a head. It’s ever so easy to sit on the sofa in your pyjamas half-ranting about how unfair things are whilst being distracted by the latest laughable situation unfolding on The Jeremy Kyle Show, but I decided to be proactive. Instead of letting things stew, I thought I would take some action. I set to my laptop and I drafted a letter to the Conservative MP for employment, Chris Grayling. He is actually my local MP, someone that my community- including my parents- have put faith into since 2001. Let’s just say that after our interaction, I doubt my parents will be voting for him again.

Chris Grayling

He's not got as friendly a look as 'Dear Deirdre', but I hoped for some good advice nonetheless.

As I closed the email informing me of my latest job rejection, I decided that today was the day that I should share what was said.

I was pleased with my letter. I’d be happy to have sent it to Points of View, or the Queen. It sounded that accomplished- just give it a click and see.


Letter To Chris Grayling

I thought this was a perfectly fair and well-thought out point of argument. Work experience and internships are a necessity to so many careers as Grayling has pointed out himself on BBC Five Live recently;

One of the constant complaints from young people is the old adage: if you can’t get a job, you can’t get experience, but you can’t get a job unless you’ve got the experience.”

However, as more employers seem to realise this, the idea of an ‘internship’ is being totally abused. It feels like all too often they are simply used as a means to avoid paying young people for their hard work by exploiting their desperation to get a break in their choice of career.

Well, I had my fingers crossed. I sat expectantly looking at my emails, getting irritated by every offer for discount penis enlargement and chance to win an iPad that spammed my way. The day the response arrived I clicked on it as fast as my finger would let me.

There is no formal system in place unless the person concerned is on benefits.

‘Oh.’ I thought. ‘Mr Grayling seems to have forgotten how to write a letter to someone.’

Okay, so I didn’t expect a full ‘sender’s address in the top right, recipient in the bottom left’ jobby, but a ‘Dear Miss Sanderson’ would have been nice? Maybe even a ‘thankyou for your message, it’s good to hear from you’, but perhaps I’m getting confused with Jimmy Saville.

Oh and also, may I point out the thorough uselessness of this opening line given the fact I had already clearly stated that I’m apparently not allowed to be on benefits?

I have to say I share your misgivings about the way internships are used.

Well thank goodness for that. Maybe we don’t have to graffiti devil horns and a goatee onto every picture of him we see in the paper.

However it is easier said than done to stop – if an individual is willing to do the work, then banning it is difficult.

Did I ever say ‘ban’? I do appreciate that it would be difficult to ‘ban’ a widely used system that has been in place for decades, yes. It’s not The Human Centipede 2.

What we have done though is create a new work experience scheme were we are organising places in a wide variety of organisations for unemployed young people. They can stay on benefits for up to two months while doing work experience, and so far we have found it to be a pretty good way of getting people into work at the end of that period.

Well that’s brilliant. I researched this (because he didn’t bother letting me know what the scheme was called or tell me where I might find more information on it) and apparently it’s a scheme for those between the ages of 18 and 21, so there might be a bit of a problem for me there. There also seems to be that overlooking of the whole I’m-not-eligible-for-benefits thing, and that it isn’t necessarily the finding of internships that’s the problem.  According to the website:

“Work experience is getting the backing of some of Britain’s leading employers such as Homebase, Hilton Hotels, McDonalds, ISS Facilities Management, Chums, De Vere Hotels, Carillion, Coyle Personnel and Punch Taverns.”

So, I guess this still isn’t really answering any of my questions in regards to those seeking employment within the creative industries. Okay, so what else did Mr Grayling have to say?

My advice for someone in your position is always to take a job, whether or not it is in the area you are ultimately aiming for. As an example, if you worked for a major retailer, and succeeded in your career, it opens the opportunity to move into head office functions, including marketing and communications, and from there it is an easier step into what you are trying to do.

As we come to the crux of this solution, it would seem that Mr Grayling’s advice to me is as simple as ‘give up your ambitions and go work in a shop’.

The truth is that media jobs are ferociously in demand at the moment, and the opportunities to go directly from university into the media are very limited. So my advice is to work your way towards what you want to do in a more around and about way.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

I think this is the first time he has actually acknowledged the relevant career area at least, but the overwhelming sense of not being listened to before being fobbed off is as much of a kick in the gut as every job rejection that appears in my inbox.

It is with these words of advice ringing in my ears… well, eyes, I shall do everything I can to ignore absolutely everything that was said. As countless more young people find themselves lost and drowning in the job market in the months to come the government will wonder why it is that the population becomes more disheartened and agitated. Just ask Chris Grayling. He’s clearly the guy you should turn to in any crisis.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t get sent to help out on the phones at the Samaritans on a misguided publicity appearance any time soon.