Monday, 15 February 2010

New Optimism and Kelly

Balls to my future, that'll wait. I am doing modules for my last semester of university that appear to be what can only be described as facking sweeeeet. Modules about Blaxsploitation films and 1970s literature run by bicycle-enthusiast Dutchmen. That one actually has film viewings and everything. Modules in which I am one of only two participants run by starry-eyed Californians about memories. See, doesn't this sound amazing? Doesn't it? If you're not filled with my boyish exuberance, treat those questions as rhetorical. There are also more exciting University exploits I am preparing for, which I'm not allowed to talk about until Friday afternoon. See, today's blog entry is a smorgasbord of emotions. A roller-coaster ride that only engages in loop-the-loops of pleasantries.

That said I do currently have a cold, making me feel rather naff and as such I'm not doing anything productive and am instead watching Disney films with my housemates. I did manage to venture out earlier, but only succeeding in getting a rather aggressive haircut from a woman; a woman to whom the phrase "A smile costs nothing" would have been valuable advice. But I don't tend to wisecrack to people have tattoos on their necks. I find tattoos on people's faces are usually an indicator of a person that could kick seven shades of shit out of me. Anyway let's steer this back towards Disney films and away from snobbery. You might want to stay tuned for a critical analysis of Aladdin 2. Or you may not. I'd perfectly understand that. It doesn't even have Robin Williams in.

Let's end this entry with something vaguely reminiscent of my first posting: the appraisal of popular music. I went to a gig t'other day. I don't go to gigs very often, but I went to see Kelly Clarkson. I won't beat around the bush, it was fuckin' ace. Pop music comes in for a lot of very harsh criticism from people who tend to confuse their opinions with facts and bestow great importance on their own tastes. The backup act were a bit mediocre, but most backup acts tend to be. They were quite practised though, and did their set with a bit of flair before promptly leaving on cue. I'm also quite a fan of the new Academy in Birmingham. Your feet still stick to the floor as before, but it's a much better venue than the old one. Anyhoo, that'll do for now.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Please Don't Volunteer

I now work at a charity shop. I say work, that implies you are paid. I am a selfless, altruistic and praiseworthy volunteer. Feel free to knock down commemoratory statues of Mother Teresa and build shrines in my honour. They are long overdue. I can't pretend it's all out of the goodness of my heart though. First dibs on ladies' blouses and 90s dance CDs? I'm so there, as the kids might say.

I went on Saturday, rolled out of bed only recently, and found it to be a lot more enjoyable than I had anticipated. People, young and old...mainly old, were friendly and time went quickly as I sorted through cat-hair clothing and assorted bric a brac. Also I get to use a till. The novelty of using a till has never worn off. It's not fancy touchscreen, and I don't get a swipe card. We're talking old school tills, but nevertheless it will do for my fun.

But oh dear. Oh dear oh dear Monday afternoon in a Save The Children shop. Volunteerism, as I understand it, works like the proverb about the buses. And today, after pleas for volunteers, we all appear to have arrived at once. So we were there: Elaine, Orlean (A French exchange student on what must be the most tedious work experience she could have imagined), Freda, Jean and me. Like the power-rangers, except 4/5 dressed in Dororthy Perkins and Gimbles get-up. (I of course was in the Red Ranger outfit, he being the most enviable one of the group). Ready, Set...Well, Go would be a push. More stand around for 3 hours whilst Freda regaled us with annecdotes and stories so uninteresting they could be used as a punishment for young deviants. But I shouldn't grumble: Jeanie is a bit of a peach really, and Elaine has the habit of calling you "sweetheart" after every clause in every sentence, which surprisingly doesn't really lose its warmth or sincerity.

The highlight of my day was watching a Spanish man enthusiastically ask me for his opinion on the coat he was trying on. (He may have been Spanish, or Iranian, or Greek, I'll be honest I don't have the foggiest. I am only certain he was not from France. I've got that accent down to a tee. Ask me at your next cocktail social.) I returned with gusto. It suited him very well I informed him. He paid me for the coat. A handsome salesman I clearly am. Wasted in that shop. Writing about self in third person never a good sign. Nor is missing out words in diary style and writing like some sort of Bridget Jones. Must lose weight, meet man of dreams and advance in job whilst avoiding phone calls from mother.


Sorry. I've gone a little mad. Anyway, my point was: don't go mad with the volunteering thing. Sure, do it. But don't all do it. If a few of you do it, you can spend a few hours restacking shelves, pricing things and sorting donations into relevant piles (keep and display, or what-the-fuck-is-that-pile-of-monstrosity-and-I-don't-even-want-to-know-what-that-stain-is). But when too many people do it, you just sit there listening to people compare the most economical and grandchild-friendly Sunday carvery to be found in Stannington. And fun that is not.

Thursday, 4 February 2010


Ok, I did try the poetry thing. You know, for my Pulitzer. I was going to win it. But I tried writing poetry again and it simply isn't happening. I always saw it as a discipline related to what I was academically good at, therefore something I would be able to do. Then again that might be like asking a Chemistry student to make fireworks. Or some less shit analogy. I'm not saying I wouldn't like, in some capacity, to write. But poetry isn't for me - not even with that book Stephen Fry wrote that teaches you how to write poetry.

The following paragraph is written fully in the understanding that I am starting to channel Bridget Jones if she was more worried about her career and less worried about showing her fanny to Hugh Grant:

It's quite disheartening actually, as I'm still trying to find a bit of direction. Graduate schemes, careers, actual current work. I am of course giving in the Max Factor (see previous posting), but the enormous number of people running for the position (something I wasn't previously aware of) makes that unlikely. I am quite aware that most reasonable people don't expect you to have a career plan laid out by the time you're 21 but having some idea might help. Also, as third year progressed, the idea I had in First Year, that I was a shoe-in for a 2.1. has evaporated. We're now looking at a 2.1. just about, if things go according to plan next semester, but quite possibly a 2.2.

If that was in a more obviously employable degree, or from Durham, I'd be a bit less worried. But university is a troubling place, that tells you how very special you are, before spitting you out the other end with a hundred thousand other people with a 2nd class honours and a hostile jobs market. Basically, third year has sucked the optimism out of me.

I'm a worker. I don't want to spend however an indefinite number of months back living with my parents whilst trying to find any form of gainful employment. All this would, as said before, be greatly aided by me knowing what I wanted to do: advertising, teaching, retail, hospitality, social work, political work, PR, journalism etc. The list of possible avenues is as long as one's proverbial arm, yet none of them feel like I should be pursuing them for one reason or another. Maybe it's a cliché, but I might genuinely need to spend a bit of time away from university and work, and, how to do they say "find myself". If nothing else it'd be a good excuse for a relaxing holiday.