Tag Archives: employment

Splattering the monitor

A lot of big issues upset me, which I think is a sign of sanity. Yet I now wonder whether my riotous fury can occasionally be misguided after a recent visit to the toilet in my office building. You see, it has a dispenser of single sheets of shiny paper masquerading as toilet roll. Fuck the beheadings and retaliation bombings, this is an absolute disgrace.

These single square sheets are fucking ridiculous. The dispensers are usually gigantic and situated at such a height you have to bend down whilst attempting to gracefully use facilities, so your face is far too close to a floor that you know is covered in pubic hair and menstrual flickage.

If you feel frugal or environmental, you will pull a single sheet. A sheet that barely covers your arsehole and disintigrates within one foot of water. With echoes of “for fuck’s sake” coming from stall to stall, the sound of a hamster on a wheel begins as you all pull as many sheets out as you can. No matter how many times you pull you’ll either get two (pointless) or fifty, enough to clog any toilet.

With the wadge gathered after an hour of tugging, you then have to try to crumple or fold (if the advert is true) the paper into a mesh that wont rip if you try to use it. Flimsy loose leaves of it trickle onto the floor, either sticking to the unknown substance around the panty liner bin, or just under your shoe. No matter how many times you gather the paper, you never feel sanitary.

As everyone knows, toilet roll is also the safety net for the sudden office cold. Sitting in these germ ridden places full of martyrs dragging in their kids’ latest phlegm-intensive disease, you will at some point find yourself rushing to the emergency tissue supply. These dispensers of evil barely cover a nostril, and any blowing will just burst through, splattering the monitor.

Meanwhile the infested turn up with boxes of Aloe Vera soft tissues that don’t rub the skin from your nose like sandpaper. Will they share? Will they fuck. Instead you turn into an advert for cocaine abuse as your septum cracks and bleeds. How can this paper be so harsh yet totally useless at actually mopping up solid or watery substances?

I sometimes attempt to study this paper when seeking peace from meetings. Sitting in the toilet I hold the paper to the light, poke it, stretch it, yet I cannot determine exactly what this element is. It certainly isn’t paper in any traditional sense. It has nothing in common with pulped wood, papyrus, newspaper, even the beautiful Andrex you can only dream of.

As a poor student I used to relieve toilets of their spare loo rolls. This ‘eco-friendly paper’, seemingly the result of boiling plastic bags in battery acid, defies such support for the poor. If you handed it to a homeless person they’d shank you, and rightly so.

As much as I understand the underhand tactics to reduce our arseholes sucking up paper as we work, surely there must be another option? Even just a slightly bigger leaf of paper would be enough. Then again, that would probably quadruple an average company’s budget on what they can spare to keep their employees from self harming.

Busy times, busy people, busy minds

A few days ago I encountered a homeless man near Moorgate Station. It was 1.30am or so, and I was there ’cause I’d completed a random shift at The Water Poet that day (7.5 pounds an hour for just collecting and washing glasses, not bad). It was too late to take the Underground, and I don’t know shit about the buses, so I just got a little bit…lost. It was very dark, I was in a city I don’t really know in a country I’m new to, in a part of that city that was completely alien to me until that day and I was nervous as hell. It may seem ridiculous, but it certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience for me.

But let’s go back to the homeless guy.

He approached me very slowly, smile in his face – not a creepy smile, really, just a warm one – and probably cold to his bones. He talked to me with a very good British accent, using a polite way of speaking, with learned words. He was short, white bearded and very thin. He introduced himself, but apologized and didn’t give me his hand because it was “too dirty”, and then started to ask me if I could buy him some food at Sainsbury’s.

But then he stopped the talk, and frowned. He looked at me and asked if I was lost.

I smiled then and, of course, said “yes”. At this point he started to apologize again because he said he was putting his own problems above mine. He started to ask me what I needed, told me that he knew the bus system, all that kind of thing.

So, at that point, I sort of stopped listening to him. I knew that he’d help me for sure; of course, he had nothing better to do, and helping me could result in a grateful person with money in his pockets. So, instead of listening, I started to think about all the other people I’d approached myself, asking for help.

They numbered five, until the homeless guy showed up.

Two of them just told me something like “busy, sorry” as they walked by, phone in hand and with the same tired face I probably had on. One of them listened to me, but as he didn’t know the place where I live, he just told me that he couldn’t be of any help. The other two didn’t even reply to my “excuse me”.

And that, so far, is the one and only fucking crap thing that I hate about London. I won’t say “people are shit”, no; the main problem is our jobs. There’s always a lot more work that must be done, at all times, in all places. Talking about London is talking about busy times, busy people, busy minds. People tend to act cold because they’re just too tired to be anything else, and only fucking homeless people have the will to be kind or careful with strangers because, of course, they don’t have a job that’s draining their entirely lives out its bodies.

It’s hilarious.

I don’t know if I’m right or wrong. And of course, I can’t say that every homeless person and every random worker is exactly like this, but the truth is that I got home that night because that guy helped me, and the others just didn’t have the time needed to even listen to my words. It was very sad. I thought of it all the way home, and not in a good mood. It all seemed sad as hell.

And yes, I bought food for the guy.

The Start-Up of You

Quick tip for book lenders: unless someone has asked you to borrow the book, they don’t want it. They’ll probably accept it, because they don’t want to insult you or your reading habits. But they’ll resent you for it, because when they get home, it will sit in the corner, looking at them for weeks, and making them feel guilty for not having started it yet. If you begin asking them questions about it, like “Did you get a chance to read it yet?” they’ll start avoiding you like you have Ebola or something. This will be your fault.

Eventually, out of guilt and resentment, they will return the book and say they ‘couldn’t get on with it’. What they mean is, they haven’t looked at it, and never intended to. Let that be a lesson to you.

Anyway, the other day, a well-meaning friend lent me a book. Actually, it’s my own fault. Since I complain about my job all the time, sometimes well-meaning friends get the funny idea that it’s a cry for help of some sort, and not just my favourite pastime, and they offer suggestions or advice about shifting jobs or careers, unaware that for me, shifting careers has about the same appeal as selecting coffins does for someone on Death Row.

This book was called ‘The Start-Up of You’, a title which manages to combine all the things I hate about modern publishing, or actually life, in a pithy and disgusting four-word phrase. Well done. The subtitle was: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.

Transform Your Career? Transform it into what? What are they talking about? Naturally, I was terrified, and threw it in the corner. Later on, sheer morbidity prompted me to pick it up and browse the contents page. The first chapter was called “All Humans Are Entrepreneurs”. What? Was this book written by an alien? Or are there other species on Earth who can read now? I continued. Later chapters developed the theme: “New World of Work”, “Strengthening Risks”, “Structure and Maintain Your Network”, and so on.

I’m sure you are getting the gist. The gist is, the world of work isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days when you left school and cosily snuggled up under the protective wing of a large and benevolent enterprise, who would pay you a steadily increasing salary, plus healthcare and pension, as you moved inexorably up the escalator. These days, wages are stagnant, add-ons cost extra and, where once you could confidently say, ‘the world will always need customer service subscriber managers’, now things are not quite so predictable. Quite frankly, an answering machine could probably do your job better than you, and next week it probably will.

The keyword now is ‘flexibility’. The Start-Up of You teaches you how to think and act like an entrepreneur, all the time.  The usual examples are trotted out: that wanker who started Facebook, and look how rich he is, and what about Fuckface who invented that app nobody likes but everybody uses? How did Fuckface get to start his Fortune 500 company? Why, by exploiting his network, you imbecile. There are many other similar examples. You have to be thinking creatively, pivoting constantly, and if you do nothing, then a career tsunami is going to come along and sweep you out into the street where you’ll be eating cat food out of bins for the rest of your life, and you’ll deserve it.

The whole prospect, of course, is designed to terrify. Nothing sells like total fear, and for those of us (like me), who spent the first thirty years of life just  getting over the trauma of being alive, and never bothered about career until it was too late, the prospect of having to suddenly build network intelligence and navigate career opportunities is pure gothic horror. Already, in my reasonably steady, horrible job, I spend a fair amount of time with my hands resting on the keyboard, staring out of the window thinking, “What the fuck am I doing? What the fuck am I doing?” over and over again. In the past we were allowed to be quietly but complacently miserable. Those days are gone.

Back in the old days, you sold your soul to a company, but at least when you’d put in your working hours they let you alone, to go home and watch TV or something. Now, unless you bounce out of bed with fifteen different ideas about how you can maximise your skill set and generate career opportunities, you are basically a slacker, an old-world caveman who deserves to be swept away in the tsunami.

The world of work, formerly contained in offices and factories, has come spilling out into the streets and cafes, where hipsters line up their identical Macbook Pros and develop their profiles. Work follows you home like some blob from a 1950s horror movie, and it sits in your house, making you feel guilty for watching TV instead of expanding your network. TV is no escape. Everyone is at it on every channel – thinking like an entrepreneur. Christ, round me, even the beggars have been reading The Start-Up of You. They used to just beg. Now they all have a sideline in selling stolen books or doing performance outsider art. Soon they will be asking me to endorse them on LinkedIn for smelling of piss and drinking K cider. What chance have I got?

The Start-Up of Me makes an executive decision. I decide to place The Start-Up of You in an out-of-the-way spot where it can languish for enough time so I can give it back to my friend. Later on, I will tell him it was interesting in parts but I couldn’t really get on with it. I enjoy a horror story as much as the next guy, but some things are just too awful to contemplate.

Shot, beheaded or barbecued

I have to admit I don’t generally keep up with the news. It’s not that it’s too depressing – the truth is, I’m too depressing, and the news just can’t keep up with me. It just constantly reminds me how much better everyone else in the world’s life is.

Unless, that is, you’re unlucky enough to be getting shot, beheaded or barbecued by ISIS. This is a terrorist outfit that simply must win PR firm of the year, or it’s all a big fix, since it’s got every media outlet in the west doing its recruiting for it. There now surely can’t be a single person in the west that isn’t aware that despite sounding like a trustworthy car hire firm, these are the last people whose car you want to get into.

What I have understood about ISIS is that they want to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, where their particular version of what God, who may or may not be Santa Claus, may or may not have said to someone 1,500 years ago, will reign supreme. The obvious first step to achieving this goal is to wipe out the group of people whose beliefs most closely align to theirs, but who differ on certain technicalities, such as whether to throw overarm or underarm when stoning people to death. After that, they can take on the really big job, which is killing everybody else in the world. Okay, sounds perfectly reasonable – where do I get my membership card?

Politicians are desperately try to stem the evil tide. I heard David Cameron on TV calling it a ‘death cult’. Sorry, Dave – a ‘cult’ is a phenomenon or movement with strictly minority appeal – like the Conservative Party for example. Current estimates have ISIS membership at around 200,000 (though not all of them filled in their census forms on time), while the Conservative Party is reckoned to have around 150,000 members these days. That means that significantly more people would rather die in the desert than join the Conservative Party. What an endorsement. Has anyone seen George Osborne lately?

Well, who can blame them really? It is, of course, all about a search for meaning. And the meaning is: killing people is really fun. Nobody who’s played Call of Duty would argue with that assessment. Who wouldn’t want to have a go on an M79 rocket launcher, when the alternative is standing in a queue in the Jobcentre Plus with your P45 job launcher, to be asked by an even bigger failure than you exactly how many call centre positions you’ve applied for this week?

Well, I’m just keeping my head down, on, together, whatever – I’m basically staying as far away from those mad bastards as possible, and if I have to claim asylum in China eventually to escape the screaming hordes of global retribution, then so be it. Anything is better than Tory Britain.

Another five hours mate

Money really does fuck everything up, and not always in the way you think. As people in the western world beat each other senseless in shopping centres for the right to buy that last cut-price giant TV for someone who already has a giant TV, I’ll be getting screwed by money in a wholly different way.

Someone has offered me a job for more money than they should have, and I’ve said yes. My fault, obviously. Applied for a job by accident and the bastards went and gave it to me.

The reason this website exists is because I’m keen to demonstrate I and other like-minded people don’t need office jobs to make a crust – just tell us what to write, we’ll decide where to write it, and we all win. But sometimes an idiot – most frequently the British government in my case – will say “Please sit in my little box doing half a day’s work over the course of a fortnight and I’ll pay for your next holiday to St Kitts, Nevis, or both, plus spending money”.

So here I am, sitting in a government box. Furious with myself for having betrayed my aim of doing a whole year without an office job. I’ve missed it by four days. Four remarkable days in which the man whose job I’ll be taking over in the new year, for at least three months, has explained to me that there’s not only loads and loads to do, but he’s also done most of it himself already, and there’s an almost infinite amount of time remaining to do the tiny amount that’s left.

Here I’ll sit, day after day, thinking of the money, hating myself more and more. Pissing people off moaning about it because they all have office jobs already and don’t see the problem. If I have an office job I don’t see why you shouldn’t too, goes the argument. A similar type of egotistical reasoning could well explain the spread of Ebola.

There are positives; there always are. The job’s in a superb location – Fleet Street, in the heart of my favourite part of my favourite city on Earth. Surrounded by venerable buildings, the river nearby, just about every route to everywhere within easy walking distance.

The people are very nice, as far as I can tell. It’s an office, so occasionally I have to laugh indulgently at humour a child would scorn, but these are friendly people. Not much by means of potential pub comrades, but you can’t have it all.

I’m a bog-standard heterosexual man, and there are more women to look at than there tend to be in my flat. With a nod to headlines agitating that technology is turning infants into filth-hungry fiends who see each other as nothing but objects to insert each other into, my time working at home has made it tricky not to see a shapely female trudging the corridors of the workplace without wondering how she might eat a banana. And it seems I’m no longer trained to hide that natural instinct, much to the very obvious displeasure of the recipient and, imminently, HR.

And as I may have mentioned, the pay’s all right.

Sadly none of these plus points matter a jot when you consider the same journey every day, the same seat at the same desk every day, the same faces, the same conversations, the same set of eight unendurable hours spent doing the same shit that just doesn’t need to be done here. It needs to be done, maybe, though even that’s questionable. But it does not need to be done here.

Here, which is hotter than a Moroccan’s armpit by about midday and yet still there are people wearing coats complaining it’s Baltic. Here, where every purposeless meeting is attended by eight people; one person talking, one taking notes they’ll never, ever look at again, and six embodiments of hatred wishing a fiery death on the name at the top of the agenda.

Here, where a man places a spittle-laden ball of paper over his computer screen’s clock each morning, removing it only when the strain gets too much for him and he simply must know how much longer he has to be here. Another five hours mate. This man spent days hanging on the telephone after his interview, waiting to find out if he’d got this job, and was thrilled when he did.

I’m doing this for the money, despite being one of the least ambitious or avaricious people you’re likely to meet, because I couldn’t justify not doing it given the boost it’ll give the bank balance, and because rounds don’t buy themselves. I like to think I’ll do this for the initial three-month contract and then quit, go back to a life of relative freedom, limitless creative outlets and stoutly defended mental health. It’s hardly an easy life, spending hours every day trying to eke out small monies from huge amounts of good quality work that nobody will ever read, but it’s life.

It’s an uncertain, often worrying existence, but it makes me smile wistfully to think it was my existence this time last week. Then on my very first day in this job I was told “there’s probably years of work here if you want it”, and freedom seems so far away from me there’s probably a NASA probe about to find methane on it.

It’s the ‘here’, not the ‘work’. I will do a sterling job for you people; I always have in every job I’ve had. I’m not one of those chancers who clocks in, does the absolute minimum, badly, and clocks out again, even though my having written this in work hours might suggest otherwise. I take pride in a job done well. Just pay me half as much and let me do it from where I want – can’t say fairer than that, can I?

But how can we have meetings? How can we check you’re not just sitting there beating off to work permits and Chinese visa literature? How can we justify our existence to you if you can’t even see us toil?

Voluntarily back in the rat race. Five days a week for as long as I can take it. And this time it’ll either make me rich or dead.

Due to the high standard of applicants

“We just can’t get applicants with the skills and attitudes we need.” The constant refrain from employers bemoans a lack of skills, and applicants who turn up in pyjamas and expect to be allowed to drink neat vodka all day, along with an inability to hold a basic conversation. There are, so British industry says, no suitable, skilled, British applicants for UK jobs. At all. Anywhere.

And Peter Pan is real, and lives two doors down from me.

Employers: the reason you’re not finding suitably skilled applicants with a good attitude and decent work ethic is because you don’t get back to us when we email you. We write, in perfectly grammatical Queen’s English, explaining our relevant experience, with examples of things we’ve actually done, and projects we’ve been involved in. We give you the names of real, physical companies we’ve worked for, and who were pleased to have us there (or said they were, at any rate).

We submit our CV, or the carefully-completed online application form, well within the deadline, having checked, double-checked and triple-checked that our email address and mobile phone number are accurate, and that we haven’t inadvertently given you the address of the Facebook and Twitter accounts that we let our mates see – you get the same profile Mummy and Daddy do, where we talk about our volunteering work, the educational programmes we’ve watched on the BBC, and the online courses we’re undertaking to “improve ourselves” and “further our education, knowledge, and experience”.

We make sure that relevant documents are attached to the email, which we’re not sending from our ‘workisforwankers@dossmail’ address, or, if you’ve asked us to be all old-fashioned and post things to you, we make sure everything’s included, the address is right, and that the lady at the Post Office checks the envelope to ensure we pay for the right amount of postage. Then we drop it in the slot, or hit Send, and wait.

And wait. And wait.

Until, three weeks or so after the closing date, we eventually get a terse “Thank you for your application. Unfortunately, due to the high standard of applicants, you have been unsuccessful. We wish you luck in your job search.” It’s not even addressed to us, and you’re not even skilled enough with computers to fake that you’re not sending it as a bulk mail job.

And then, a week after we stopped less than an inch short of slashing our wrists in response to your rejection, you’re in the paper, or on This Morning, whining about how hard life is for you, and how no one’s good enough to work for you.

Boo-bloody-hoo. That’s not what you told all those folk currently having their benefits stopped because they didn’t even get to interview with you, so must’ve screwed up somehow. You’ll carry on raking in your hundreds of pounds an hour salary, while the rest of us struggle to buy groceries, pay bills and get by on the same amount you’d spend on a “quiet evening out”.

There are skilled, sensible job applicants out there, who know that they’re expected to turn up on time, do as they’re told, and be professional. Who can write and speak good English. Who know that you don’t wear a tie to an interview for a kennel hand, or a gimp suit to an interview for a job in a solicitors’ office. But we’re not psychic – if you want to interview us, you have to respond to our application. Preferably with your location, and a date and time.

But it’s cheaper for you to ignore any applications you get, and go on TV whining about your life. After all, it’s free advertising, isn’t it, especially if you can get the telly crew to do a few seconds of footage in your offices or your factory. Not an avenue that’s typically open to jobseekers, the free publicity of an appearance on the six o’clock news. The truth is out there, along with the job applicants you claim don’t exist. And the truth is, British industry, that you don’t want a workforce – you want a soundbite.

I’m paid to be here

I know I’m probably still drunk because I start the day by putting a winky face in an email to a trader. It’s an improvement on what I was thinking of writing which was “Who gives a shit, you uptight wanker?” Instead I made a sweetly self-deprecating comment about the team I work in and how we’re really just snivelling little wretches compared to the big boys (and girls) on the front line raking in the masses of wealth, whacked the winky face at the end of it to assure him I’m non-threatening and away it went.

It’s had quite a journey, the wink. It’s gone from being a smooth yet wordless come on, through to a warning sign of a sleazy pervert and in cinema it provided the pivotal plot twist in iRobot. Nowadays we bandy winks around like nobody’s business in texts, emails to friends, and emails to professional people at work who we hate. It’s become a prolific part of the way we communicate. If you send something a bit tongue in cheek without the required wink at the end of it, you might just sound like an arsehole.

My decision not to go with something along the lines of “People are dying mate, I couldn’t give two hoots about why this error came up in the first place, just pull your fist out of your arse and fix it” was based on the plain and simple fact that I’m paid to be here.

Like so many people who find themselves working in the recklessly overpaid industry of finance, I am in it for the money. The things I really like doing which are – in no particular order – laughing, writing, drinking, chatting, watching films and trying to be nice to people, are piteously underpaid. So until I can sustain a living by doing any of the above, I’m stuck with it. I do not, I hasten to add, underestimate the fact that the industry I so despise and the job I feel draining the very life out of me is handsomely paid. Loads of people hate their job and get paid fuck all for the privilege. But let’s conveniently sideline that fact because this isn’t about them, it’s about me.

Running concurrently with the issue that lead to the drunken winky face incident was the news that a report that should have been sent wasn’t. I took the necessary steps to rectify the issue, but at no point did I feel sad, angry, hurt or worried about the outcome. A more senior colleague did care and I could sense him prickling behind me while I sat there blithely dismissing his requests about what follow-up action had occurred with the words “I sent an email, I’ll show you in a minute”, while I turned around to finish the article I was reading about the Mitford sisters to find out who the hell they were and why one of them being dead was newsworthy.

When something goes awry at work I ask myself a very simple question: “Did anybody die?” It’s a pretty solid litmus test for how you should react. There are plenty of jobs in the world where people dying is a very real outcome of someone making a mistake. Mine is not one of them.

If the answer is no then I’ll ask myself: “Has anybody been seriously hurt? Do they require medical attention?” Short of falling off a chair, getting a paper cut or walking into a glass door there’s very little in the way of danger in my immediate surroundings so invariably the answer to both of these is also no. With the facts established and with no person or persons in any real, perceived or imminent danger, I limit my reaction to that of perfunctory action. I will do what needs to be done, but there will be no tears shed or recriminations or sleepless nights, because I just don’t care.

There’s a lot to be said for taking pride in what you do and I don’t begrudge anyone that; I applaud it. Just because I have significant dissatisfaction in my lot because it is so entirely contra to my values and beliefs doesn’t mean everyone who does a job that doesn’t involve saving lives, or helping the less fortunate, should drag themselves around in a tortured cloud of misery. We’re all at the mercy of our capitalist existences and require some form of income to sustain ourselves. First World Problems abound, but bills must be paid, nights out must be had, and holidays provide a soothing balm to the tiresome ache of life for the rest of the year.

If you have found something that sustains you financially, intellectually and emotionally, regardless of where it sits on the spectrum of worthy to self-serving careers, then wallow in your smugness; you’ve earned it.

But just try to be self-aware. Try to be realistic. Try not to care too much about something that matters not at all in the wider world. Get some perspective. Be grateful for the money rolling in and out of your account like a healthy turn of the tide every month.

And if something does go wrong, do what you can to fix it and then just chill the fuck out. Unless somebody dies or is very badly hurt, in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter you overpaid, self-unaware fuckwit ;-)

A picture of Trigger

We haven’t had a team meeting at work for months now. The gratitude I feel for this is matched only by the gratitude I feel for the fact my siblings and I lacked sufficient imagination to come up with a good enough idea, therefore never got around to writing an appealing enough letter, and were subsequently never successful in our bid to appear on Jim’ll Fix It.

We threw all sorts of ideas around, such was our desire to get on telly. I don’t remember many of them, but I know someone suggested we should ask to dress up as clowns and throw custard pies at each other. The thinking behind that one was to aim low enough to make it nice and easy for Jim to Fix It for us, thus maximising the chance we had of making it on to the show.

Not for the first time, I thank God for our collective familial apathy.

The last team meeting came at a time when our already small department was being hacked to pieces under the guise of improving efficiency. Rancidly overpaid consultants forced us to explain every detail of every pointless task we undertake, and in return we were given patronising snippets of training. The best – and by best I mean the most awkward and vomit-inducingly cringey – was on Excel.

Our consultant opened with a picture of Trigger from Only Fools and Horses and asked, with what I assume was meant to be a wry grin rather than looking as if he was having a stroke, “Does anybody know who this is?” It was a clear attempt to connect with the plebs before blowing their minds with a pivot table and a vlookup.

I dare say he didn’t know the answer to his own question and had only included it in his training material after reading a study on how to communicate with the intellectually inferior. Fuck knows how he went on to link the picture to his subject matter. My brain will have refused to absorb anything beyond that desperate and patronising opener.

Cut forward a few weeks and a meeting was called to bring together the decimated and devastated team, for us to take stock of what had gone on before and what was ahead. Weeks of watching our life-wasting jobs being picked into tiny parts, and then put into graphs and PowerPoint presentations had crushed even those of us who already knew we’re wasting every minute we spend under this strip-lighting, so we shuffled into the meeting room defeated.

It was too hot and too small so we were crammed in together like the terrible punchline to a “How many uninterested adults can you fit around a tiny table in a phone-box sized room to waste another hour of their lives?” joke.

Until this point I’d tried to mask my utter hatred of my job and industry with a tissue-thin veil of professionalism, but on this occasion I was hung over, the glass room was getting hotter and my poker-straight hair was starting to curl in the rising temperature. With every gruelling minute I had slumped lower and lower in my chair until I was almost under the table.

Across this city and the world, meetings are run and overrun by one or two droning voices. They always make up the minority of people in the room, but control the majority by raising point after pointless fucking point. On this occasion, the droning voice punctuated each point by addressing me “I’m sorry I know you don’t want to be in here”.

Who knows what gave it away. Maybe it was the rolling of the eyes, or the mournful cries each time she uttered “Can we also discuss…”, but she was quite right. I’d rather have been dangling from a bamboo, precariously balanced across the top of a live volcano than spent any longer in that room.

The laws of decency state that if you intend to detain someone in a room for a meeting of any longer than one hour, you forewarn them, or you at least provide some sustenance. Since the time spent in there will be completely wasted you might as well get a biscuit or two out of it because, sure as shit, it will be the most productive thing you do in that time.

So when we broke through the one hour mark, in a sweltering and biscuit-free zone, and I heard her say “While we’re all here let’s also…” I punctuated it with my own “Oh for fuck’s sake”, and dropped my head into my hands. It wasn’t enough to stop her so I held on for maybe a few more seconds out of politeness before standing up, announcing “that’s enough” and walking out, to the sound of her speed-talking her way through her final, worthless monologue and a few chairs scraping across the floor as the remaining poor bastards followed me out.

Since then the call for meetings has fallen silent. Maybe this was a direct result of my behaviour, or maybe it was the silent fall of a blanket of apathy across what remains of the team. Either way, it’s worth remembering apathy kept me and my family out of harm’s way as children, so perhaps it’s not such a bad thing after all.

Intellect, drive and productivity

We’re the same, you and I, and not just because we’re both on that one way journey into the eternal darkness. We’re bound together by the soul-crushing, life-destroying need to cram our achievements, personalities, ambitions and desires into two perfectly formatted yet eye-catching pages of lies.

No matter how hard I try, and I can assure you I gave up trying long ago, my CV reads as an excruciatingly boring and unimportant list of jobs sewn together with cringing attempts to make me sound like a professional, confident and competent person. Trouble is, in so doing it also makes me sound like a complete arsehole.

Read yours right now, if you can bear to. I start retching and getting stomach cramps when I so much as click on the filename. I haven’t touched a printed copy of it for years and I’m pretty sure my hands would catch fire if I did. Read someone else’s too, preferably someone you like or at least care about.

Done it? Do you still like yourself and the other person? Unlikely. It’ll probably take a few weeks for that to wear off, so avoid them and your own reflection for at least a fortnight and stay away from sharp objects.

In my long-since-abandoned quest to write the perfect CV I discovered one simple fact: it doesn’t exist. It’s as mythical as the Holy fucking Grail. If you believe you have the perfect CV then you are most definitely wrong, and you are most definitely the same pompous wanker your CV makes you out to be.

Like so many of life’s shit, shit aspects, this all began at school: the personal statement. The pressure placed upon us to knock up 300 words of ground-breaking and original self-promotion to make our UCAS application shine brighter than any other was almost intolerable. They rammed the importance of getting it right so far home, I became convinced they had rigged up my house with IEDs and would let them rip if they identified even one stray word they considered waffle.

And so yet another generation of exaggerated and often fictional achievements was born, each one more gut-achingly arrogant than the last.

Wouldn’t life be so much better for every single person if we collectively decided to just be honest? People would then get to know who they were actually going to be working with, rather than a turbo-extreme version of them. Jobseekers would have half a chance of getting matched to a job that actually suited them. All up it would make the job market fairer.

And therein lies the fatal flaw; the job market isn’t fair. It’s a shallow place biased towards those who can make their mundane existence sound like they’re packing the kind of intellect, drive and productivity to make an entire Cambridge college shudder.

The last time I attempted to do my CV without going into anaphylactic shock, I employed the help of a friend who’d spent some time on the receiving end of job applications. I completely submitted to her will, as another piece of conflicting advice on how best to do it would have resulted in me going a bit Michael Douglas Falling Down. Word for word I put together the CV she advised. The result? An interview.

What got me this interview was the extremely creative inclusion of things I neither know nor care about. What got me this interview was two pages that sounded like they were describing a cunt of significant proportions. Within minutes of sitting down it was clear. They knew it and I knew it and the bright red face and stuttering didn’t help; I just wasn’t the cunt they were hoping for.

In a way I felt sorry for them. I could have saved us all the pain and humiliation we experienced that day if I’d just been honest from the start.

So I’ve decided to put a CV together that is completely truthful. Who knows whether or not I’ll send it out, but at least I’ll be able to read it without hyperventilating and feeling like my eyes are going to explode in my head.

This is a call to arms and I’m going to launch the first attack: I work because I have to, and so do you. That’s the truth. Stop expecting me to dress it up with fake enthusiasm and stop believing people whose only talent is to exaggerate their own brilliance. They’re just the same as you and me. Their only true gift is being able to make waffle sound less shit.

Illiterate, innumerate

Yet more employers are whining about how “young people don’t have a work ethic”, and how “everyone wants flexible hours and decent pay straight off, they don’t think they should have to earn it”. More hand-wringing over how ‘incompetent’ and ‘lazy’ British workers, particularly young British workers, are illiterate, innumerate, have shit timekeeping, can’t follow instructions, and won’t stick with anything if it’s not exactly to their liking.

Meanwhile, the same young, British workers are driving themselves to nervous fucking breakdowns, applying for everything, posting ads on Gumtree that are only ever responded to by people with poor English skills thinking that the ad is offering a job, or wankers who think it’s funny to take the piss out of the desperate by responding with something sexually suggestive. They’re uploading humiliating begging videos to YouTube and Facebook, because the business world is so immature that it thinks it’s cool to run Dragons’ Den-style recruitment processes. These young workers see all of this and think “What’s the fucking point?”

It’s not going to matter that I could be at a job that starts at 8am by 7.45am, or that I worked a summer job hauling marquee poles around – god, that was shit, but I stuck it out – or that I know better than to turn up to an interview in jeans and a hoodie. Nothing’s going to fucking matter, because you’ve had a few bad experiences with people from my socioeconomic demographic and decided to write the whole lot of us off, and tell the world via social media, newspapers and television that you’re doing so. Fucking great.

I spent my early teens to mid-twenties among the first wave of “useless young people”, despite applying for jobs that would’ve meant an hour and a half on a fucking bus, each way, despite doing a job that meant I had to get up at 4.30am so I could feed and walk the dogs, get showered and dressed and have breakfast before I had to leave the house at 6am to walk to the bus stop for the ONE bus that would get me into the city an hour before I needed to be at work.

Despite getting to work, and having to watch colleagues who lived in the fucking city eating their breakfast at their desks, because apparently I was the only one who could be bothered to be fucking organised in the morning. And anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a morning person. There isn’t enough coffee in the world for me to be bright-eyed and bushy-fucking-tailed before about 10.30am.

Despite the fact that I was intelligent and capable, and proved it time and time again. No-one was interested, because I was a “useless, lazy, entitled young person”, so they could go and rip off some poor foreign bugger with a clean fucking conscience.

Now, in my late twenties, I’m suffering the effects of that dismissive earlier attitude – my ‘career’ hasn’t ‘advanced’ as far as some fucking suited wanker thinks it should’ve done, so I’m therefore not worth bothering with. I’m obviously a workshy waster who’d struggle to spell ‘work’, never mind actually do it. Or I get the “Oh, that’s quite a way from Norwich – and you don’t have a driving licence?” with the pitying look that says because I’m apparently incapable of doing this piss-easy thing called driving (easy if you have decent peripheral vision, and haven’t had a ‘dissociative episode’ during a driving test), I must also be incapable of reading bus timetables and working out if I can get to and from a place for the times they want me there.

I also get a lot of “Why don’t you move to the city? That would surely make finding work easier.” Yes, because I can pay the astronomical fucking rents on crappy city centre flats with Monopoly money, can’t I?

British business has spent years writing off British workers and they wonder why so many of us are now shrugging our shoulders and saying “fuck you then” at the expense of that mythical beast ‘the taxpayer’, as if we don’t pay fucking tax on just about everything we buy.

I don’t give a fuck that you probably have met some fucking useless twats – I probably went to school with most of them – but until you give everyone in the group you’re so casually trashing a chance, you don’t get to have a fucking opinion on that group as a whole. Talk about the individuals you’ve encountered but don’t fucking tar us all with the same fucking brush. You wouldn’t get away with it if you were saying “all black people are lazy”, or “all Muslim blokes expect a decent salary for an easy job”. Just because there’s no law against this particular prejudice, doesn’t make it right.

Offer me a job. Give me a chance to do it. Then tell the world – if it’s the case – that I’m lazy and incompetent. But you don’t get to fucking judge me until you’ve met me.